With the latest Panda algorithm update there were a lot of changes to the rankings of certain websites, most notably with large websites like Ask.com and EBay. There has also been a recent study that shows how Panda went after PR websites, and an article that looked into the topical authority of a website in relation to the content. What this tells us is that Panda was looking for at least three things in the recent revamp:
- Original content on websites that don't accept money to post articles.
- Pages with misleading anchor texts pointing to them (aka doorway pages).
- Relevancy of content to the website theme.
However, there was something else that I noticed. I decided to do some digging and noticed one theme in particular, the amount of content that existed on the page. It appears that the websites that, in general, offered more unique words per page benefited from the algorithm, and websites that only offered a couple hundred words on their article pages decreased.
Before I get into the nitty, gritty analysis I want to point out that these results are from a very small sample size and I am not making any definite correlation between in-depth content being the next big ranking factor in Google. This is simply an observation to put the theory out there that this COULD be a huge ranking factor and to get the ball rolling for people that have better analysis tools so they can look into more.
Website negatively effected by Panda 4.0 - Schools.com
- Number of URL's Analyzed = 1534
- Average Words Per Page = 1147
- Range of Words = 0 - 5556
Website positively effected by Panda 4.0 - OnlineColleges.com
- Number of URL's Analyzed = 1665
- Average Words Per Page = 796
- Range of Words = 316 - 6479
On the surface you would think that a large website with in-depth content like Schools.com would benefit from the quantity of content it has on the website. However, the big metric that should be focused on is the range of words. As you can see, Schools.com has a big range when it comes to the number of words per page. Also, it's not just about the how many pages have the in-depth content, but about which pages have the content and how valuable are the keywords driving traffic to that page. I decided to look even deeper to figure why Schools.com took such a big hit, but OnlineColleges.com rose.
Digging Down Deeper: Schools.com
Big Ranking Drop #1
Keyword: Online Trade Schools (from 8-15)
Keyword Monthly Volume: 1000
Number of Words in Article Body: 117
Looking closer at this content we see that it is outdated, and talks more about careers than schools. We also see that it is very thin and doesn't really go into depth about the benefits that a school can have for your career.
Big Ranking Drop #2
Keyword: online schools for nursing (from 7-18)
Keyword Monthly Volume: 720
Number of Words in Article Body: 180
This article goes into more depth than the previous one, but it is still mostly about careers and not schools. It is also very shallow in content length and just regurgitates bls.gov information.
Digging Down Deeper: OnlineColleges.com
Big Ranking Gain #1
Keyword: Online Colleges (from 8-2)
Keyword Monthly Volume: 40,500
Number of Words in Article Body: 1286
The content on this page has some leader text for other articles, but it much more comprehensive and talks about different ways to help students find an online college, explain the benefits of online colleges, and give them advice on choosing an online college.
Big Ranking Gain #2
Keyword: online colleges in pa (from 9-5)
Keyword Monthly Volume: 480
Number of Words in Article Body: 4935
Again, the content on this page is much more in depth and focuses on the main keyword.
Even though Schools.com has a larger average of words per page, the keywords that the website lost were much more detrimental to the website. This caused the website to be much more effected by Panda 4.0, whereas OnlineColleges.com and shows how Panda 4.0 was more page by page than sectional when evaluating the content quality on a website.
Looking at these pages on Onlinecolleges.com, most of the content is related to the main keyword and is comprehensive. Again, this is a small sample, and the content on Schools.com does have other issues besides being shallow, but it does raise the question of how in-depth content could be a major ranking factor for Panda 4.0.
Have you seen similar trends with in-depth content rankings? Let me know in the comments section below or on Twitter @BFMweb.