Guest post by Thomas Doane
Who isn’t familiar with the image of the solitary writer?
Sitting alone, an unsmiling face illuminated by a single candle, mired in an existential quandary; full of disgust and angst and wracked with the agony and desolation of a pitiful, meaningless existence. The candlelight is now the incandescent glow of the computer screen but the loathing and isolation are still there, especially when the writer cannot find a job. Luckily, good writers have been in high demand thanks to Google.
In early 2011, Google enacted the largest update to their ever-changing algorithm to date. The update is known in tech circles as Panda. The purpose of Panda was to de-value the trashy, spammy sites on the Internet so that search results (Google’s primary function) would be free of useless returns. In order to facilitate this, Google’s search algorithm gives value (in the form of “rank”) to sites that meet a set of criteria:
- Content must be rich
- Website must be easily indexed
- Pages must load quickly
- Advertising/content ratio needs to favor content
Up until this point, website content writing has been thin, uninspired and near worthless. The extent of Internet marketing involved things like email marketing, black hat SEO and banner adds. Panda banished sites filled with that kind of writing to the nether-realms of the Internet (read: page 10 or 12 in search results).
All of a sudden, websites were in dire need for new, fresh content to rise in the ranks of Google. Writers on the lam were recruited en masse to produce this content, rescuing them from the sordid world of unemployment and putting them in a position to ply their talents in a corporate initiative. The result: a golden age for copywriters.
The call for real writers to begin writing content bolstered the value of content on the Internet, and as websites rose in rank thanks to the efforts of the writers, those very writers became essential to the new web marketing process.
Under the Panda regime, the Internet has swollen with high-quality, valuable content, at once beneficial to the average web user and branded companies. The average person interested in finding real content about a subject benefits by not having to wade through a swamp of ads for Propecia and Acai Berry cleanses. And companies looking to rise in Google’s ranks and thereby secure more brand recognition and conversions achieve those goals through rearranging site infrastructure and beefing up content channels.
Google recently applied another update, dubbed the “freshness” update, which factors the publish date of content into the algorithm. The idea was to offer more up-to-date content to the searcher, which meant that content gained even more value.
Google is notoriously fickle when it comes to their algorithm, and even when Panda dropped, many legitimate websites saw a dramatic decrease in their rankings. The issue has since been smoothed over as the algorithm is constantly updated and refined. Movements in the Googleplex indicate that they will continue to pursue these types of updates in the future in the name of cultivating an Internet free of websites populated with advertisements, links, and weak content. Writers will benefit from this boom for a long time to come.
Thomas Doane is a freelance-writer and a frequent contributor to Big Fish Small Bowl.