Somebody in the recent expert round of search engine journal stated: “If you have low-quality content and the content is not engaging, you might get impacted by Panda.”
Does panda actually measure whether or not a page is engaging or low quality? I thought panda worked on a site wide basis?
Jim Munro: Happy Holidays, Chase. Shouldn`t you be kicking back somewhere, mate? :)
Alan Bleiweiss: In one of their talks at Pubcon in November, one of the Googlers discussed engagement as something they consider. Whether that`s baked in to Panda or not, or a direct ranking factor is not, to my knowledge, known. People talk about dwell time, pogo-sticking, all sorts of metrics (and the way misunderstood bounce rate). I look at it this way - if it`s an informational / educational site, and the combination of bounce rate higher than 50%, average time on site less than 3 minutes and average pages visited less than two, that combination paints a picture of low engagement, low "stickiness" and low click-through once on-site. Whether those are direct SEO ranking factors is highly debatable and not entirely likely. Yet every time I`ve helped clients boost that combination trio of numbers, it`s been through improved site usability including intuitive main navigation and section level navigation, stronger content, and deeper content where appropriate. That has then led to more visits across a larger set of long tail keywords and stronger short phrase keywords. Correlation here does not equal causation. Just data I have consistently seen. And many of those sites had been hit by Panda. Yet my work does not fixate on individual algorithm classifications. It looks at overall SEO and UX as relates to site value.
Jim Munro: Consider also that Google contracts out acres of cubicles full of human search quality reviewers. If you want to publish low-quality fluff maybe it`s not panda you should be concerned about.
Doc Sheldon: Alan is spot on... we don`t really KNOW precisely what the Panda algo works into its calculations. My approach, which has kept me out of trouble, is to simply ensure that my content is unique and offers value to the users. If your site focuses on the user, in all regards, I think that`s the single best strategy for decent rankings.
Roger Montti: Human quality raters provide a baseline for algos to emulate. After that they can predict what`s engaging. Measuring actual engagement rates is naive. Then there`s stuff like VIEWPORT TIME. Imagine if algos could predict that. Viewport Time KILLS all other engagement metrics and most SEOs have never heard of it.
Michael Stricker: Great convo. Just like to add that one measure of engagement is design-based... the CAPACITY of pages to accept engagement as interaction. Forms, clickable phone numbers, live chats, internal links to Relevance are easily detected by Googlebot. This may even extend to social share tools and comment fields. Gbot has even been shown to test forms by entering text from a page for submission. So, before you look for the Magic AI manipulation of UI and capture of Analytics and heatmaps as evidence of true engagement in real time, consider that the mere presence of useful, useable interaction methods on the page count as the necessary tools of engagement.