More information has been coming out about the Panda update. Google have released a article on their webmaster blog describing how they see quality content.
There were a few things that really stood out:-
Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
This seems to be a big hint towards the strength of domain branding. If your site has a recognisable brand (think gumtree for example) and this is getting linked to and mentioned it will add weight to the strength of your domain as a whole.
Some other interesting snippets were:-
Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
Obviously spelling and grammar is fairly easy to check algorithmically but how would a search engine check for factual errors?
Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
Latent semantic indexing anyone??? Get as much related content and keywords into the article as possible. This is really key to the relevancy side of ranking for terms.
Additionally Matt Cutts mentioned on Twitter in relation to how Panda updates:-
“it’s not data that’s updated daily right now. More like when we re-run the algorithms to regen the data.”
This along with a section of the blog post below gives us some insight into how this update is working:-
One other specific piece of guidance we’ve offered is that low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings.
We believe that the Panda update is a separate algorithm, programme or module within the google system. This is run completely independently from the main Google indexing/ranking process. The Panda system will target sites at domain level and assess each a quality score. This quality score is then incorporated into the main algorithm. The bad news is that as Matt said if your site has been hit by Panda you’ll have to wait until they run it again to update your new PandaRank. It is also worth bearing in mind that this is generally being discussed as a negative hit, i.e. only affecting low quality sites directly.
The key takeaway from all this information and speculation is that the update focuses on domain strength and not at individual article level. If you have a popular, aged domain it is going to be much less of an uphill struggle to get on the right side of this. Bear in mind that Google is looking at secondary ranking factors such as Facebook likes, domain brand mentions and complaints to calculate domain strength. If you are giving users a good enough experience for them to recommend your site to friends…