The latest Google Penguin and Panda updates have been penalizing various websites for what Google deems as “over optimization.” This definition has led to mass panic, confusion and plenty of Google hating. However, the truth of what is happening is fairly easy to see.

Google (and surely more search engines are going to follow in its footsteps) is not discriminating or even “penalizing” websites for low quality content. With Panda, they already made a strong statement: do not create a “content mill” (meaning a low quality site that publishes anything and everything, without a filtering process) because it will be penalized in a search. With Penguin, the message has been adjusted slightly. It now stands as: do not publish poor quality writing or your entire site could be affected.

What was once a vague warning, and a general “do not” suggestion, is now apparently a big deal and one of the most important refining criteria for Penguin. If a website publishes many low quality pages then the entire site will suffer. That’s just common sense, because some article directories out there are really undeserving of a top 10 ranking, considering the low quality of information and the poor name brand the website has associated with it.

Instead, it is highly recommended that you seek out quality links, at reputable sites. Some article directories still have clout, but Google is showing preference to blogs, magazines and other websites that don’t merely publish directories but have a strong focus. That strong focus is often associated with the highest quality of writing. And that’s not too coincidental; after all, a blog about gardening is bound to have some great information, probably far more in depth than a website that publishes content on everything from gardening to music to home improvement and pet sitting.

Google is definitely raising the bar on quality content…the question is, are you keeping up with the SEO industry’s newest standards?