Google’s Panda +1=New SEO Kung Fu

Google wants to know what you think.

The Google +1 update has been well documented here. +1 seems to be part of a trend, wherein Google is taking into account user feedback when doling out search engine rankings.

Details are now coming to light about how Google put together its new Panda algorithm update. These details seem to indicate that Google finally wants direct input on what sites should be deemed ‘good.’ In an interview, Google quality team guru, Amit Singhal, told Wired.com how they established determinants for what qualifies as a “”low quality”” site:

“”Wired.com: How do you recognize a shallow-content site? Do you have to wind up defining low quality content?

Singhal: That’s a very, very hard problem that we
haven’t solved, and it’s an ongoing evolution how to solve that problem.
We wanted to keep it strictly scientific, so we used our standard
evaluation system that we’ve developed, where we basically sent out
documents to outside testers. Then we asked the raters questions like:
“”Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card? Would you
be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids?””””

Basically what this means is that there’s a new question to ask when you’re optimizing your site for Google: does this page resemble a trustworthy pharmacist? This approach seems far less scientific than Google’s traditional heuristic algorithm. Of course, this survey approach was really just used as validation for what the new algorithm is doing. The approach is striking, nonetheless.

Taking a fresh look at Google’s new +1 feature through this lens, a new narrative emerges. The +1 functionality gives users a quick and easy way to offer the kind of real-time validation for content that Singhal described to Wired. Once the +1 buttons start to appear on pages (similar to the Facebook “”like”” button,) an onslaught of this kind of gut feeling feedback is going to hit Google like a Kung Fu Panda nerve attack.

How data from the +1 feature will be used by Google in ranking sites is beyond opaque at this point. Jonathan Allen at Search Engine watch is predicting a coming “”gamification”” of Google through the +1 feature. This makes perfect sense. I can see people hocking +1 services that are basically an off shore package of people clicking buttons all day. It will be interesting to see how the Google quality team deals with that.

I think that it’s nice that Google wants to know what we think. I just wonder if they’ll regret asking the question when the answers start rolling in.

Scott Ensign, Digital Planner and Channel Integration Specialist

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