SEO Sunday: What Makes a High-Quality Site?


Before I start my geeky ritual of SEO Sunday I would just like to say “Happpy Mother’s” day to all the incredible Mother’s out there. I know that a number of people who read my blog are Mom’s and I wanted to thank my own Mom along with all the other Mom’s out there for everything that they have done and do on a daily basis! Heck, life wouldn’t have been possible without you and I am proud of the incredibly strong connection my Mom and I have.

Okay, now back to some geeky stuff – this is SEO Sunday after all. As we all know Google rocked the search space this year with their now-famous Panda update. This update was intended to clear-out many of the junky sites that have been clogging search results for years now. Poorly-written articles, spammy sites, and all those jerks who steal my content (and yours) and reprint it or spin it on their sites finally got what’s been coming to them for a long time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Thank You Google!” as both a search engine user and content-writer this update has been fantastic!

Of course the update has also put a lot of sleazy SEO companies out of business that have relied on forum and comment spam along with junky paid links and low-quality content written for search, rather than for people. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all SEO companies are sleazy, there are lots of great SEO companies out there, but those that were simply gaming the system are dropping like flies.

The big question in everyone’s mind right now is, what does Google look for in a website when ranking it in the post-panda world we are now living in? There are a zillion different factors they look at but in the end it all comes down to one thing – a website made for people, not for search engine bots. Forget about keyword repetition, making certain keywords bold, and trying to get as many links into your site with anchor-text matching your dominant keywords. Now it’s all about one thing – the user. That’s right, the sites that will dominate Google now are those that people visit, enjoy, and then come back to time and time again. Rather than getting links because you pay for them or beg someone else to link to you, Google is looking for sites that are linked to because people actually enjoy and recommend their content.

Social Media is a major tool that the next generation of SEO geeks will be using since it is one of the best ways to distribute your content to people who will enjoy it (if it’s actually good) and recommend it to friends. Just think about it, if you write a blog about cooking and decide to write about your favorite pasta sauce recipe, you could search on Twitter for “pasta sauce” or “making pasta sauce” and see who’s talking about the exact topic you just wrote about. You could then suggest your recipe to some other cooking enthusiasts and maybe they’ll recommend it to their friends or share it on their own blog or Facebook page. This is only one tiny example but the idea here is that you’re actually creating a useful resource, good content, and something that people are looking for rather than something that is written to rank well in search engines.

On Friday Google themselves did an excellent post on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog where they discussed What counts as a High-Quality Site. I would definitely recommend reading this as it really goes-into detail on what Google considers a high-quality site and what they’re filtering-out. At the end of the day there is no longer a formula for success, it’s all about creating a great site with great content and helping people discover it. Make something useful that people actually enjoy reading, recommend to their friends, and come back to, the days of junky mini-sites and article spinning are over, the new web has arrived and I for one am a big fan!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton