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How To Redeem Marketing Content From Deadly Content Sins


Some of the best advice on website and content marketing came to me recently from Mark Kilens (@markkilens), Senior Inbound Marketing Consultant at Hubspot. He said, “Create content for your ideal customers, not for search engine algorithms.” And the best content is what creates the greatest value.

content and Google Panda
If your business depends upon the Internet, this advice has profound implications on how you change your existing website and blogging content, and your content creation strategy going forward.


To attract quality visitors and improve visitor experience, create quality content that is original and contains helpful information such as research, in-depth reports, and thoughtful analysis. The business benefit is higher-quality sites that have better rankings.

It Started With Panda

The place to begin is the original announcement by Google about what has come to be known by the name Panda. This is from an article written by Chris Crum on March 26, 2012 that appeared in Google Panda Update Gets Another Refresh, Affecting 1.6% of Queries.

Chris orients us by summarizing Google’s original intent with this post from Google’s Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal:
“Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible,” the post began. “This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.”

“This 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.”

Key Takeaway:  Panda seeks to serve people as quickly as possible and it accomplishes this by penalizing low-value content and rewarding high-value content.

How Panda Works

In Beating Google’s Panda Update – 5 Deadly Content Sins posted by Cyrus Shepard and appearing on SEOMOZ, Cyrus provides this nutshell version of Panda:

“Panda starts off with human quality raters who look at hundreds of websites. Computers, using machine learning, are then brought in to mimic the human raters. When the algorithm becomes accurate enough at predicting what the humans scored, it’s then unleashed across millions of sites across the Internet.

“The point is: Panda starts off from a human point of view, not a machine’s. We can look at these sites with human eyes and see the obvious.

“Remember, Panda is a site-wide penalty, not a page penalty. So if a certain percentage of your pages fall below Panda’s quality algorithm, then the whole site suffers. Fix enough of these pages and you may recover.”

Key takeaway: Panda is about humans, not computers.

The 5 Deadly Content Sins

Cyrus Shepard writes about what Google wishes to punish, and provides these guidelines in the form of 5 deadly content sins.

In summary, his 5 Deadly Content Sins are:

1.    Heavy Template Footprint- the sin of a low ratio of original content
2.    Empty Content – the sin of nothingness
3.    Overlapping and Redundant Articles – the sin of targeting keywords instead of humans
4.    High Ad Ratio – the sin of listening to Adsense and not Panda (somewhat confusing because they are both from Google)
5.    Affiliate Links and Auto Generated Content – the sin of building pages with minimal human intervention

Pointing to the positive, Shepard adds, “Rand (Fishkin, SEOmoz) had it right when he told us to improve engagement metrics. Make legitimate, on-site fixes that actually improve your visitor’s experience. You’ll find that reducing bounce rate, increasing page views and time-on-site has the side effect of making your visitors, and you, happier.”

Finding Forgiveness For Weak Content: Focus on the Positive

This is from Kristi Hines writing for Search Engine Watch, Google Panda Update: Say Goodbye to Low-Quality Link Building.

Kristi shows us where to focus our Internet energy: “Content, of course.” Low quality sites lack quality content.

Nine in 10 organizations use blogs, whitepapers, webinars, infographics, and other high quality content to leverage for link building and to attract natural, organic links. Not only can you use your content to build links, but you can use it to build leads as well by proving the business knows their stuff when it comes to their industry.”

From Sin To Redemption With Your Content

So what’s in it for you? Matt Moog in writes One Year Later: How Google Panda Changed Our Business:

“So, that is how Google’s Panda update changed our business. It drove us to improve the quality of content, improve the credibility and trust of our experience and invest in Product Intelligence as a distinct point of difference in the market.
"We don’t know how Google is going to respond to these changes but the important thing to note is that every change we made improved the experience for the user.”

Key Takeaway: Improve the user experience.

Content And The Battle Between SEO And Conversion

In a comprehensive article on title tags, Brad Shorr makes this important point concerning the future impact of Google’s search personalization on title tag strategy that has implications for content in general. He says, “In my view we are heading toward an environment where social connectivity, rather than keywords, has greater bearing on search engine visibility.” So, for example, “…bloggers are wise to concentrate on social traffic generation rather than beat their heads against the wall trying to move up from Google page 30 to page 29.”

Key Takeaway: Build content that is highly shareable.

Coming Full Circle
Let’s go back to Mark Kilen’s advice. It translates as follows:  create fewer but higher quality blogs, longer articles that are original and well researched, and focus on what’s in it for the ideal customer, not the score on an algorithm one can only guess at.

Want help with your content? Purge it from deadly sins? Make it highly shareable? Please connect with me here.

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