Google tries to wrestle back index update naming from the pundits, naming the update "Panda". Named after one of their engineers, apparently.
The official Google line - and I'm paraphrasing here - is this:
Trust us. We're putting the bad guys on one side, and the good guys on the other
I like how Wired didn't let them off the hook.
Wired.com: Some people say you should be transparent, to prove that you aren’t making those algorithms to help your advertisers, something I know that you will deny.
Singhal: I can say categorically that money does not impact our decisions.
Wired.com: But people want the proof.
This answer, from Matt Cutts, was interesting:
Cutts: If someone has a specific question about, for example, why a site dropped, I think it’s fair and justifiable and defensible to tell them why that site dropped. But for example, our most recent algorithm does contain signals that can be gamed. If that one were 100 percent transparent, the bad guys would know how to optimize their way back into the rankings
Why Not Just Tell Us What You Want, Already!
Blekko makes a big deal about being transparent and open, but Google have always been secretive. After all, if Google want us to produce quality documents their users like and trust, then why not just tell us exactly what a quality document their users like and trust looks like?
Trouble is, Google's algorithmns clearly aren't that bulletproof, as Google admit they can still be gamed, hence the secrecy. Matt says he would like to think there would be a time they could open source the algorithms, but it's clear that time isn't now.
Do We Know Anything New?
So, what are we to conclude?
- Google can be gamed. We kinda knew that....
- Google still aren't telling us much. No change there....
Then again, there's this:
Google have filed a patent that sounds very similar to what Demand Media does i.e looks for serp areas that are under-served by content, and prompts writers to write for it.
The patent basically covers a system for identifying search queries which have low quality content and then asking either publishers or the people searching for that topic to create some better content themselves. The system takes into account the volume of searches when looking at the quality of the content so for bigger keywords the content would need to be better in order for Google to not need to suggest somebody else writes something
If Google do implement technology based on this patent, then it would appear they aren't down on the "Content Farm" model. They may even integrate it themselves.
How To Avoid Getting Labelled A Content Farmer
The question remains: how do you prevent being labelled as a low-quality publisher, especially when sites like eHow remain untouched, yet Cult Of Mac gets taken out? Note: Cult Of Mac appears to have been reinstated, but one wonders if that was the result of the media attention, or an algo tweak.
Google want content their users find useful. As always, they're cagey about what "useful" means, so those who want to publish content, and want to rank well, but do not want be confused with a content farm, are left to guess. And do a little reverse-engineering.
- A useful document will pass a human inspection
- A useful document is not ad heavy
- A useful document is well linked externally
- A useful document is not a copy of another document
- A useful document is typically created by a brand or an entity which has a distribution channel outside of the search channel
- A useful document does not have a 100% bounce rate followed by a click on a different search result for that same search query ;)
Kinda obvious. Are we off-base here? Something else? What is the difference, as far as algo is concerned, between e-How and Suite 101? Usage patterns?
Still doesn't explain YouTube, though, which brings us back to:
Wired.com: But people want the proof
YouTube, the domain, is incredibly useful, but some pages - not so much. Did YouTube get hammered by update Panda, too?
Many would say that's unlikely.
I guess "who you know" helps.
In the Panda update some websites got owned. Others are owned and operated by Google. :D
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