If you’re focused on getting your site to the top of the search engines, you understand the battle we have against spammers (crap sites). Google is constantly trying to further optimize their algorithm to get rid of the spam sites (spam sites, for example, are link sites you’ll land on that provide you with no value). If Google always sends users to sites that provide no value, people will stop using them. So it’s in Google’s best interest to make sure their search results are the best possible.

Before, getting to the top of the search engines was a fairly level playing field for spammers (black hat) and real optimizers (white hat). It came down to some basics of optimizing the page to communicate with the search engines and building lots of quality links (I am over simplifying this a bit, but you get what I am saying). Anyone could tell the search engines anything they wanted and the search engine believed them to a certain level. And BIG power lied in the links.

Until Panda.

Google released an update to their algorithm earlier this year named Panda, which to a certain extent changes how they rank your site. It’s not as much about keywords today as it is about signals.

Google knows a lot. But it only knows what we tell it. You tell Google if a site is relevant for your search by clicking the link in the search results (they’ll measure the click through rate vs others in your niche). We tell them it’s quality content many ways – by browsing many pages on the site (Google Analytics, Google Toolbar, Chrome, Andriod). We tell them it’s content we want others to see (Twitter, Facebook, +1, Google+). The more we engage a site, the more signals we are sending to Google that it’s quality content, and that’s what Panda is measuring.

Ok, great, but what does this mean for you?

YOU MUST CREATE QUALITY CONTENT! (Seems like I have said that a time or two before.)

Content on your site that’s crap has the potential to drag your site down. Remember, it’s all about your visitor. Don’t add a page to your site that doesn’t provide value to that visitor. And always remember, when creating your site strategy, that a visitor doesn’t care about you. They don’t. They care about what’s in it for them. Don’t talk about yourself, talk about how your product or service can benefit the visitor. Write it in a way that’s fun, informative, but most importantly, worthy of sharing and getting that visitor to say “wow”. Because if you can get them to share that content, it’s sending signals to the search engines that “this page has quality content” and is better than the other sites on this topic.

When creating your content, ask yourself, “Will my visitors want to share this with others?” If yes, you’re on the right road and Panda will love you.

For us, we’ve been very fortunate to not receive any penalties for any of the sites we’re managing the SEO. We’ve always had the mindset that quality content comes first, which has served our clients very well.

Hope this helps,

pferrier is the Co-Founder of Mindscape at Hanon McKendry