Part III: Google Panda Update - GO.CO Blog

Hi there, .CO friends! Welcome to another installment in our Google Algorithm blog post series! In our last post, we talked all about the Hummingbird update. Today we are talking about one of the biggest algorithm changes Google has ever launched: the Panda update.

What is Google Panda?

Google Panda is an algorithm change launched by Google that targets low-quality content, as well as content “farms”—sites that spit a large amount of content out that is of poor-quality and usually that is aggregated. Panda was launched with the goal of making it much more difficult for these low-quality sites to rank well in search engine results, and to improve the overall quality and relevance of search results. Websites with poor content—whether that means it has been “scraped” from other sites or of poor quality—have been penalized via ranking decreases, and in some extreme cases, blocked from search results.

In the past, algorithm changes only targeted individual webpages—however, in the case of Panda, it only takes a few pages of poor content to negatively impact the entire website.

Although Panda was officially launched to target poor content, other observations can be made by examining the winners and losers.

  • Websites that have a large amount of advertising of their website were negatively impacted
  • In the case of websites with a large amount of user-generated content, having that content was not enough. If the content itself was very generic or poorly written—even if it was user-generated—it had a negative impact.
  • On the flipside, websites with a lot of user-generated content that was of high-quality were rewarded.

When was it launched?

The Panda update was first launched all the way back in February 2011; there have been subsequent releases over the years. For the first two years, updates were rolled out every month. After that time, updates were less frequent and had less of an impact on search results.

How big is it?

Google Panda has had a far bigger impact on search results than previous updates. Google has said that it effects approximately 12% of search results.

How do I know if I got hit?

The first update was back in February of 2011, so if you were impacted, it would have been close to that launch date. However, the Panda update was a game-changer for Google, and at its core, it aims to continually prevent sites with poor content from ranking well. Google has even said that the principles of Panda are now integrated in its indexing. So, a key takeaway should be that it is extremely important—more important than the pre-Panda world—to invest in great content. Whether you create content yourself, have a content team, or outsource it, always make sure it is  a) unique and b) high-quality.

What should I do?

As mentioned above, the main takeaway from Panda is that a website cannot rank well just by having content. A good way to think about it is to ask yourself questions about the content. Would you read it yourself, or leave the  website? Would you recommend the website to your friends? Does the content sound like it was written by a writer whose first language is not English? Does the content read as being spammy—for example, is it overly optimized? If the answers to these questions are wishy-washy, then you most likely will want to begin re-thinking your content strategy.

We hope we’ve provided you with some helpful info about the Panda Update! Be sure to stop by the .CO blog often for more SEO tips and news.

More info:

Building High Quality Websites

23 Questions to Ask Yourself if Hit by Panda