Content and Copy
By now it should be obvious that as a web professional or freelance writer you need to be a jack of all trades. And one of the absolute essential tools in your box is a working knowledge of Google’s search algorithms, what they mean for your writing, your blogs and where you should focus your efforts. So, before we get into the why of Google’s lashing of press release sites through its latest Panda update let’s take a quick look at what the algorithm is and what it seeks to do.
According to a great post on the Moz blog the “The Panda algorithm was a ground-breaking shift in Google’s methodology for addressing certain search quality issues. Using patented machine learning techniques, Google used real, human reviewers to determine the quality of a sample set of websites.” The post goes on to give a rather detailed list of 23 different types of question one would expect to see in the so-called training set and they are truly informative for anyone who produces content meant for online consumption.
Some of the most telling criteria of the Panda update can be found in questions such as “1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?” and “13. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?” Obviously, we as content producers and writers would do well to ensure that our writing falls within these guidelines not solely to game Google but simply because it makes sense. I’ve mentioned it before but your best defense from search algorithm updates is to consistently write for real humans since that is what the engines are always attempting to emulate.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to write a press release for a client you’ll know that, most of the time, the client knows less about the subject than you do. If you’re lucky they will give you a website and some other information to work with otherwise (as is often the case) you’ll find yourself having to pull a virtual rabbit out of a hat to make it work. I have found myself in this predicament on more than a few occasions and, despite communicating my misgivings to the client, have always been told “do the best that you can.” Needless to say I have and I have yet to have a dissatisfied client and yet…something just doesn’t feel right about producing press releases that really have nothing of interest to say and that I, myself, would never want to read or share.
In light of all of this, the Panda update, although it may temporarily put a damper on the amount of work out there for freelancers, is actually a good thing. Panda demands real, quality content and that makes it hard for companies to hire out articles and press releases to the lowest possible bidders who tend to be legions of under-paid, non-native English speakers (the denizens of Odesk and other freelance sites) to produce. In the long run, Panda may be making it easier for those of us who have dedicated ourselves to writing interesting, engaging and thought-provoking content to make a living.