Google's Panda update in February 2011 left a lot of websites by the wayside as it slaughtered the rankings of low-quality and shallow websites. Many article sites and link farms were hit hard and lost up to 90% of their traffic in one hit.
Hopefully these new improvements will see a jump in good sites getting top priority. It has promise in the long run.
Now, since the onslaught, Google has now produced a list of questions that all businesses should consider as a way of assessing the quality of your site. As an insight into Google's mindset, check out their guidance list -
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Unfortunately, low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole sites rankings so ensure you remove or merge these pages so they don't weigh you down. Follow their guidelines when producing, reviewing or revamping your site and you should see a significant improvement in your search engine results.