It's been a couple of months since Google rolled out the Panda update, and blog owners are still adjusting to the impact of the new algorithm. While Google has tweaked the algorithm since its release, there are still blogs and websites whose rankings have suffered. Even well-known and legitimate sites were downgraded after Panda took effect.
There hasn't been a lot of explicit direction from Google, though a May post from Google Fellow Amit Singhal gives a list of 23 questions for blog owners to ask themselves before posting content. It boils down to the fact that high-quality content must become the top priority for blog owners who want to rank.
The big questions
The list of questions posted by Google is long, but they all get at the same thing: "Would I trust this content if it weren't my own site?" The things that matter to you as a website owner--expertise and authority, fairness, excellent spelling and grammar, in-depth discussion of a topic--matter just as much to your readers. And if you don't believe in what you're posting, your readers will give their traffic to other, better sites. Panda isn't the only one judging your site's quality.
The formula is simple: Provide top-notch content--if you're passionate about a subject, let that passion show through in your writing. Not every successful blogger is necessarily a great writer--so consider some browsing some blogs for writing tips. You can also use online training to discover new information or more in-depth history of what you write about, or to boost your trustworthiness about a subject. Also consider rearranging or revamping some pages on your site--with Panda, one low-ranked page can affect an entire site's rating.
Practicing safe SEO
We've established that high-quality content should be your No. 1 concern. Now, how do you get that content? Start with researching topics before you start crafting an article, so you can write from a place of authority. Write with your audience--not the keyword or the search term--in mind. Your audience will know if you've shoehorned a term into an article simply for SEO value, and so will Panda. Well-written, clear, and detailed articles will serve both your SEO purposes and your audience well.
If you run a blog with multiple contributors, be sure that your fellow writers do the same--and ask them to provide legitimate sources, whether you post them or not. You can also look for other bloggers willing to guest post--this is a great idea for topics that are new to you, or to give new bloggers a chance to get their content on the web. Be sure to read any content you receive with those 23 questions in mind, and to offer feedback if your guest posters ask for it (and if you have the time).
Site owners who've worked the system before will obviously have to step up their game with Panda; but on-the-level websites will have to step it up as well. Google's algorithms don't rule the Internet, but they do determine how your site will appear in their search engine, which basically does. Keep that in mind as you craft new content, and your site may become even more successful than it was before Panda.