Commandments of the Anti-Panda Writer

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:: By Steve Aedy ::

Apparently, Google’s sole desire is to help people find high-quality sites in the search results. The jury is still out on whether or not they really intend to rule the world and updates like Penguin and Panda are just a precursor to their total domination of our lives.

We’ll assume the best and just trust Google when they say Panda was only about assessing website quality. But their lack of specific guidelines and tips leaves us wondering, especially when they come right out and tell us they intend to tie our hands.

“Of course, we aren’t disclosing the actual ranking signals used in our algorithms because we don’t want folks to game our search results.”

That is particularly helpful for those of us who want to follow the rules but don’t know how. Google does, however, invite us to step into their mindset.

So, according to Google’s own suggestions, here are the eight, not 10 (since nothing in SEO is that neat and tidy), commandments of anti-Panda writing.

1. Thou Shalt Provide Truthful Content

Lying is not nice - ever. It is especially frowned upon when you do it under the pretext of being an authority on a subject. Therefore, it is essential to provide content that is not only useful, but also truthful.

For example, if you are writing on a health topic, are you quoting and referencing doctors, health professionals and accredited research studies? Or are you nabbing information from Joe Blow’s blog who may or may not know what he is talking about?

Also, it is important to present both sides of a story. Don’t be prejudice, only offering readers what you think they want to see. Throw both sides of the argument out there. Let readers decide for themselves which opinion/idea is more credible.

2. Thou Shalt Become an Expert about Something

Whether you are the site owner or a content writer, you really should be an authority on something.

If you are the site owner, what is your site about? Do your categories include health, family, education, business, travel and entertainment? If so, you are probably angering the Google decision-makers.

If you are a content writer, what are you writing about? Do you pen articles about Web design, exercise routines and hair extensions? If so, Google might think you are a fake.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” You can’t possibly be an authority on all those topics. Pick the ones you do know something about; write about those. That way, you can actually build credibility and become a reliable source of information.

3. Thou Shalt Use Keywords Wisely

Oh how we loath and love keywords. It’s a love-hate relationship, really.

While writers and site owners might oscillate between affection and dislike, Google doesn’t waiver at all. They hate writing for keywords 100 percent of the time.

By now, most of us know it is a no-no to keyword spam our content. However, keywords are essential for a site’s success. There is a very muddy, blurred line between what Google thinks is acceptable and unacceptable.

However, we do know that Google frowns upon sites that have duplicate, overlapping or redundant content. If you have page after page that discuss the same or similar subjects, you could be in trouble. It is also not OK to write articles that cover the same general idea but are optimized for slightly different, or synonym, keywords.

4. Thou Shalt Write Content that People Actually Want to Read

In general, sites exist for one of two reasons:

1. Build as many backlinks and/or earn as much money as possible by posting crappy, no-one-cares information.

2. Provide quality, helpful, insightful information with relevant, useful links that ranks well because they are just that good.

Which do you suppose Google likes better?

For quite some time, we have all known that quality content is a must. However, it needs to go one step further. No matter how masterfully it was written or how naturally it links, content needs to be applicable to a target audience.

Writing about PHP on a social media marketing blog is not of interest to the readers. Similarly, trying to write content you think Google will like is pointless. Instead, write content you think your readers will like. Google is much more likely to reward that content.

5. Thou Shalt Conduct Quality Control

Someday, Google will probably be able to predict the future or at least control the weather. In the meantime, we’ll just have to be amazed by the fact that they can “read” content on the Web.

If you think spelling errors don’t affect your ranking, you’re wrong. If you think having a few factual mistakes doesn’t matter, you’re wrong. If you think Google won’t be able to tell that guest bloggers write all your content, you’re wrong. If you think the bots won’t notice you threw something together at the last minute, you’re wrong. If you think it doesn’t matter that you are routinely writing little, insignificant articles that are devoid of useful specifics, you’re wrong. If you think it is pointless to go beyond the basics, you’re wrong.

Google can detect all that and more.

6. Thou Shalt Encourage Sharing

Many of us dislike social media – it takes a lot of our time and doesn’t produce much noticeable ROI. Even so, sharing, liking, tweeting and all that jazz is apparently more important than we would like to admit. 

Google likes to assume (and you know what that means). They assume content that gets shared is quality. After all, if someone took the time to read the article and decided it was good enough to recommend to other people, it must be worthy of a better ranking.

7. Thou Shalt Not Suffocate Readers with Ads

Google is all about enhancing the user experience. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn they dislike in-context ads or anything else that will detract from the readers’ overall goal – consuming useful information.

In reality, they probably just dislike any moneymaking scheme that is better than AdWords. Either way, ad bombing, according to Google, is just as heinous as link bombing.

8. Thou Shalt Design a Killer Website

From start to finish, Google wants users to have a nice time at their little social gathering. After all, they are the bigwig host. And nothing makes guests feel more welcomed than a pleasant, enjoyable, relaxing, comfortable ambiance.

When analyzing the quality of their site, Google encourages owners to ask themselves, “are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail?”

How on earth can Google tell if a page is produced with great care? We have no idea. But apparently, you had better do it.

There you go; our eight commandments of anti-Panda writing. Did that clear things up? Do you now have a very thorough understanding of exactly what you are and aren’t supposed to do? Have Google’s tips and suggestions helped your writing? Sound off in the comments section below.

This article was written by Steve Aedy, who is a staff essay writer and content manager for He specializes in writing articles on social media, education and history.

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tatil 06-04-2013 3:52 PM

Apparently, Google’s sole desire is to help people find high-quality sites in the search results. The jury is still out on whether or not they really intend to rule the world and updates like Penguin and Panda are just a precursor to their total domination of our lives.

We’ll assume the best and just trust…

PeteD 06-04-2013 4:04 PM

Apparently, Google really likes review sites such as that can be easily gamed too.

JohnH 06-04-2013 4:11 PM

Where does a strictly e-commerce website fit into this scheme?

* Truthful content: the items we represent digitally on the site are in fact the actual items customers receive.

* Expertise: We sell what we know.

* Keywords: Product names & descriptions are what they are.

* Content: People do not come to our site to read. They come to purchase. Product descriptions are the content.

* QC: Absolutely, it has a lot to do with conversion rate.

* Sharing: Social media doesn't really fit our industry.

* Ads: Not a chance. We want people in the checkout funnel...not clicking ads.

* Design: Somewhat limited by the shopping cart but we do the best we can.

Having been through many Google algorithm changes over the years and suffering 2 particularly bad SERP "poundings", I think it's about time Google figures out a better way to evaluate e-commerce sites - or better yet - leave us out of the chaos.


Explain to me how on God's green earth we were nowhere to be found "Tuesday" morning, when we had been page 1 the prior day. Thank you Google for killing our cash flow AGAIN.

KatieW 06-05-2013 8:50 AM

I have a question?? What about 'Niche' Stores. 1 of my clients runs a wedding boutique. Does google consider her blogs about 'Wedding Dresses, Wedding Accessories, Wedding Colors and Decor' all repetitive  and redundant content? Trying my best to educate clients with limited knowledge is a challenge.

PierreF 06-05-2013 11:42 AM

Uniform thought & limitations to perfectly fit "anything" in accordance to ONE worldview is a perversion in itself. Religions have been trying for thousands of years and we're still killing each other for that "UNIQUE TRUTH" TODAY, IN 2014. Humans are much much bigger, more complex & stranger than that... But G works with robots, which aren't humans and capable of humanity. Guess where we're going and who's leading the way? ISN'T ANDROID ALREADY A GREAT MIRROR LEADING TO GLASSES? What can possibly go wrong with this powerful idiocy/meme?

MarkR 06-08-2013 9:13 AM

Mr. Aedy, your article is helpful to me from the technical side. And it was a pleasure to read because of your style. Well done and thank you!

MatthewB 06-16-2013 12:13 AM

Dear Website it possible that Google is simply forcing companies into buying Adwords? In all reality if you out bid your competition for any of the top 3 ad positions and drive traffic to a properly designed landing page you have just paid your way out of worrying about any type of updates. Classic bate and switch. Please write about this.

Pay For Homework 06-18-2015 12:54 AM

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