By Justin H.
We at TekShouts! are continuing our tour through the proverbial search engine zoo. Having already covered the bases on Google Pigeon and Google Penguin, we will now be detailing Google Panda in lieu of its recent update.
Just like its cuddly real-life namesake, Google Panda was massive in stature upon its release. It was launched on February 23, 2011, and immediately affected 12% of all search results. Panda laid a beating on sites with thin content, content farms, high ad-to-content ratios and many other problems that were having negative impacts on user experience.
Panda 4.1 – Google’s 27th installment of the algorithm – was released in September of 2014 with the goal of allowing more high-quality small and medium-sized sites to rank higher. With over a month under its belt, users now can see tangible results from Panda’s update. This slow rollout of the update paid huge dividends for some sites, and did damage on others, as always. Based on feedback from many of the users and webmasters, this recent update allowed Google to uncover some new methods for Panda to target low-quality content more efficiently.
The rollout will allow sites previously affected by the last Panda update to prove that they have made necessary changes to move back up the search rankings. For example, if a website had questionable content that hurt its rankings, the update presents it with a chance to show that it has improved its content, and/or produced plenty of new content that abides by the appropriate standards. Believe it or not, just a few bad pages of keyword-crammed, weak content is more than enough to send a site plummeting down the rankings.
Aside from weak content, Panda also audits sites that aren’t engaging, as well as those that feature a deceptive amount of advertising. If sites are not generating much interaction and users are subsequently spending very brief amounts of time on the page, down the rankings they go! The update will notice trends, so if users are leaving a site for certain reasons, it will be flagged, and the ranking will be lowered. Conversely, if a site goes live and immediately receives a ton of traffic, it is a red flag and will often result in being penalized by Panda.
While all of this information may seem daunting, don’t be frightened. Pandas are friendly animals. The update was not put into effect to punish anyone who didn’t deserve it. Not every page will be completely free of mistakes, but try to minimize them as much as possible. Since it now appears to be on a quarterly updating schedule, Panda allows ample time to atone for mistakes that caused lowered rankings. Just as it is rude to show up to a dinner party empty-handed, don’t run a site that contributes nothing to the web. Some simple attention to detail and innovative content will keep you on good terms with Panda.