Google Panda Update

Posted On September 25th, 2014 by Ken Mozlowski

If you are even remotely connected to the world of Internet Marketing and SEO, you have more than likely heard about Google's Panda Update.  We at SEO Panda are of course thrilled with the name chosen by Google.  However, just as in the case of how Page Rank got its name from Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, Panda got it's name not from the bear but from a top engineer at Google named Navneet Panda.

So what is the Panda Update and why should I care?  Google's now famous formula for ranking websites in its search results is based on a carefully honed and continually updated algorithm.  Nobody other than certain employees of Google know what goes into their secret sauce.  Consequently a whole new industry has arisen called SEO that helps web sites achieve higher rankings for their key search terms.  That industry was thrown a big curve ball on Feb. 24, 2011 when they released the first Panda update.  Overnight, many site owners saw their rankings drop and in some cases completely fall off the search result pages.  This was sometimes referred to as the Farmer update because it appeared to have the biggest affect on what are known as content "farms" or sites that create tons of content.

Google's intent was to remove "low quality sites" that did not provide a good user experience searching for information on their topic of interest, such as article directory sites.  Some sites we know were pure gibberish while others were some pretty well know sites such as business, buzzle and manta.com that lost up to 90% of their keyword rankings.  Since then Google has released 6 or 7 updates, some sites who thought they escaped the first few rounds, now saw big losses, other sites actually saw some improvement and in some cases returned to pre-Panda ranking levels and even higher.

It is fair to say that if you weren't affected in a major way yet that your site is panda-proof.  That's not to say that Google will not decide to issue a major new release that looks at some other heretofore ignored factors in its quest to define quality content that you have as a part of your web site, but you at least do not have to play offense and can stick to a more defensive strategy when it comes to protecting your site from a Panda attack.

In order to defend your site from Panda, take a look at the factors that others have reported as changes they have made to get their sites back on the top search results.  In particular keep in mind that the official factors given by Google for low quality sites are detailed in their Webmaster Guidelines and that a significant factor in determining what sites were low quality related to data gathered as part of reviews done by humans hired by Google to rate sites. They were asked to rate the site in terms of quality versus spam,  willingness to buy something or consider it a site worthy of further exploration that was well-written and engaging.

In reality a lot of that info is just plain vague and arbitrary in terms of determining what changes to make to your own site. Basically think of it as a guideline or philosophy to follow in principal.  In actual practice, no business especially small businesses have unlimited budgets and access to top notch SEO Web Professionals to develop their site according to principals or philosophies.  Consequently, that is why we say if you do nothing else take a defensive approach and carefully monitor your Google crawl results for any signs of errors, suggestions, warnings, and other indications of issues with content and site structure.  Check your site for duplicate content both internally and externally and revisit your links on-page and off to increase their quality and reduce the quantity of spammy relationships between one page to another for your most important pages. Also it also doesn't hurt to get a paid SEO professional audit done of your site(s) just like you would for your accounting by a financial professional so that you are ready when Panda decides to audit you.