by Brent K
Google is a now irrevocably integral part of many of our lives. The company has spent many years by now building its many, varied, and mostly free products all centered around a basic principle of bringing the right content to the user faster, including their primary source of revenue, which is carefully, almost artfully coordinated relevant advertisements. Despite their many products, their name is still primarily known for one reason: internet searches. Virtually nobody these days says “let’s go research that on the internet,” but instead “Let’s Google it.” Even Ask.com, Yahoo!, and Microsoft’s somewhat recently renovated Bing haven’t made such a level of infamy that they have become a part of our everyday vocabulary. So certainly then, Google must have some very careful methods to their search engine technology. I’ll elaborate on two of these: Google Panda, and Google Penguin.
Google Panda and Google Penguin are both optimization algorithms in Google’s search results, but they perform two very different functions. According to Google’s official blog, in a post on Panda’s launch in February of 2011, “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.” Similarly, yet conversely, Google’s Inside Search official blog posted this about Penguin on its launch day, April 24th 2012, Penguin is an “important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines.”
Google Panda, then, is essentially a rating system based on your internet search query and complicated statistics, aimed at bringing you the most relevant content based on a combination of simple keyword matching, robustness and relevance of content, and a generalized statistical model derived from data provided by thousands of ratings by human quality testers of websites based on measures of quality (design, trustworthiness, and speed) and whether or not the testers would return to the site. Panda’s algorithm is tailored to find sites that have positive answers to these questions, found also on Google’s official blog:
• 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?