Will the elusive Google Panda leave its tracks all over the internet?

We have been expecting a Panda update since the middle of May with the most recent reports claiming that it will be rolled out at the start of July. One week in and we are no nearer to knowing how the update change will affect the web.

It has been made clear that this update will not change the algorithm and only update the data. This means that sites with genuine content that have been negatively affected by the big update last year should see some improvements in their performance.

Whilst we wait for the update to happen we’ve put together a guide to all things Google Panda from its origins to its most recent changes.

Panda

Google Panda was established February 2011 but it wasn’t in full effect until April that year. It aimed to lower the rank of low-quality websites and reward high-quality, genuine content that was user friendly and not just search engine appeasing. However, initially the websites that benefitted from this algorithm were those that are known as scrapers (websites that gather and steal content from around the web, posing as their own).

Since then many updates have perfected the algorithm to better distinguish between original content and websites that pull this content from other sources. That’s not to say it’s problem free as it can’t distinguish between a CMS generating duplicate data unknowingly and genuine duplicated content which can cause some sites to have lower rankings.

We are all currently under the thumb of Google Panda 4.1 which was rolled out in September 2014 which was perhaps it’s largest update since it’s initial appearance. This update promised the use of more precise indicators of low-quality content allowing for high quality small and medium sized websites to rank higher for their content.

As with any Panda update, keep a look out for your traffic or rankings to indicate whether your site has been penalized and then act accordingly. Make alterations to your website and hope to see a change by the next time Google crawls your site.

So What Does Panda Penalize?

As mentioned, Panda’s aim is to reward websites with genuine, high quality content and penalizes websites that have low-quality content and black hat seo. Although it gets its information from pages from a website it will penalize the entire domain not the page performance.

Affiliate links and doorway pages

Doorway pages are often overloaded with keywords in order to funnel visitors to a more relevant page on the site or to an affiliate website. There are two established problems with these pages. One is that the page is over-optimised which screams ‘spam’ and the second is that often the affiliate websites are of low quality too.

Keyword Stuffing

Similarly, pages that are heavily laden with keywords not only in the content but in the meta titles and meta descriptions also saw a drop in their rankings. A keyword density report can easily identify pages that are going to be perceived as spam.

Advertising

For many, affiliate advertising is a necessary part of having their website live at an affordable price but for some, advertising can be a misleading redirect to somewhere else. Perhaps it’s a floating advert impossible to click around it, or a string of adverts that looks like the websites menu bar.

No Shortcuts

What you must take away from this is that content is what drives your ranking higher and not just any old content. Something genuine, for your users, clients and customers and that’s not search engine fodder does this best. There is no more cheating or short cuts to SEO success anymore.

It can take just a few pages of poor quality or duplicate content to bring down your entire sites ranking. Have you noticed a change in your websites performance since September 2014? Get feedback from an outside perspective and get a true understanding of how user friendly your website really is.

If you’ve experienced problems with Panda you can tweet me your frustrations at @ISD_Jordana

Google Partner