At its heart, all SEO is essentially gray-hat, let’s get that out there in the open air right away. If the world were perfect in Google’s eyes, every backlink would be spontaneous and uncompensated, every page that ranked well would do so because of killer content, and wages of sin would be death — or sandboxing, in this case. Google has made continuous efforts to improve their algorithm to detect SEO efforts and other signs of ‘cheating’, and their latest attempt — a new algorithm codenamed ‘Panda’ (sometimes ‘Farmer’) is no different.
Panda’s focus is on shifting ‘low-quality’ sites downward in the rankings even if they have excellent off-site SEO. This new change takes a series of on-page signals that Google gurus Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts describe as “intuitive” into account and sorts pages according to those signals, with some sites suffering dramatically as a result.
According to people with their feet on the ground, the focus has shifted from the raw amount of unique content on your site — the focus that spawned the phrase “content is king” — to a focus on readability, usability, originality, authority, and uniform quality.
Readability — Panda likes pages that have obvious topics, good grammar and spelling, focus on plain English rather than jargon, and don’t have glaring interruptions to the content such as in-text advertisements (ironically, their ubiquitous AdWords fall into this category.)
Usability — In other words, the page should be focused on achieving the user’s goals, not the business’. Visitors need to be able to easily navigate from page to page on the site, not having to sort between what is an ad or call-to-action and what is the useful content.
Originality — As always, Google focuses on original content. While the occasional bit of republished content won’t tank your site, Panda specifically penalizes sites that get the majority of their content by scraping.
Authority — Similarly, Google’s algorithms have always focused on a site’s authority — generally a mix of the site’s age, number and quality of backlinks, and focus. Panda adds to that the question of ‘is the answer to this query more readily available than on other pages’?
Uniform Quality – One of the biggest steps taken to fight content farms, which often have a few dozen truly great articles and a few thousand crappy ones, Panda now takes the quality of every page on a site into account when determining the ranking of a particular site. In other words, the better the average quality of all pages on your site according to all of the above factors, the higher every page on your site will rank.
The end result of all of this is that many once-popular content farms like Suite101 are doing down hard, while so-called “thin content” sites, autoblogs, and similar sites with few pages are shooting upward in the rankings. Because they don’t have much — but what they do have is usually of fairly high uniform quality — they’re doing well enough that they may well become the next SEO metafad.
I don’t want to brag, but if you want to see a good article that has quality/originality, you can check this people search free piece written by me (ha ha). Anyway, a good tip I use to determine what’s quality is visit quality websites like mainstream magazines and see their way of writing.