In the last few days, you can see the whole search engine optimisation world talking about pandas – no, not the furry little endangered fellas, but about the newest Google algorithm update.
In the last few days, you can see the whole search engine optimisation world talking about pandas – no, not the furry little endangered fellas, but about the newest Google algorithm update. Ever since it was first introduced, it created a disturbance in the World Wide Web, something that could be felt even by those not interested in traffic and ranking numbers, and over time, there were about 26 confirmed updates and refreshes with the purpose of increasing the quality of content posted on high-ranked websites, and sanctioning those that were using other, more sinister, methods of producing content.
The most recent update is not-so-fantastically named Panda 4.1, and while it started officially on September 25, 2014, it is still in the process of roll out, but the effects are noticed by many webmasters around the world. If you notice a drop in traffic related to organic searches, it may not be even related to Panda since, simultaneously, Penguin 3.0 was released, with the sole purpose of eliminating spam from the internet, punishing those that have unnatural links towards their website, and promoting websites with natural linking.
The Black and White Panda
The first mention of the name Panda was in February 2011 when the version 1.0 was released, affecting nearly 12% of all search queries on google.com. Not only was this the first update by Google to ever have a unique name, but it also was one of the most significant updates to the Google Search Engine’s algorithms since it was developed, making it one of the most profound ones. The tech-wizards at Google had one purpose in mind – eliminate low quality websites that hosted plethora of low quality content, but reward and promote those websites that had high-quality, frequently updated posts and content. This sounds interesting, and no one can deny that it is even extremely beneficial for all of us, but it changed how SEO works from the bottom up.
Link buying was a popular, yet hidden practice, where people used to find ways of building links that pointed to their site. This increased traffic over those links in a very small amount, but search engines used to analyze those links and conclude that the content there must be really popular. It was considered as a shortcut to success, and meant an increase in search engine ranking. This, of course, translated into more money for the site owners.
However, Google discouraged this, and they even implemented the term natural, marking those links that were not organic as unnatural links. Many people had great sites, yet played with blackhat SEO tricks in order to quickly cheat the system, while others, simply waited for the popularity to pick up. This gave birth to too many SEO experts, and all of this was changed by the first Panda and Penguin updates.
The message was simple: focus on good quality natural linking from your visitors, do not pay for forced links, abandon shady tricks and post user-friendly content on your website. The SEO changed from get popular quickly to nourish your website over time and you may see results.
Why is This Panda Important?
Like many other Google updates, even Panda and Penguin were covered behind a veil of internet secrecy, mostly due to the fact that publishing information about them would give everyone the chance to cheat their way around them once again. But we know one thing, once you feel their bite, it is already too late to do anything about it.
Panda, which focused mostly on content posted on websites, tried to target websites with lack of user generated content, or websites with duplicated content. It also had a purpose of eliminating spam content in the form of machine-generated content, and this update was focused on refining the precision with which that content was discovered. We know that there are a few new signals which are marks of low quality content, but those are kept in secret.
For you, there could be clear benefits, and small to medium businesses with good-quality content should rejoice, as the search query should now have a greater diversity of websites. But if your content is deemed not good enough, then you could suffer quite a drop in ranking, and the task of finding out what the problem is shall begin. News sites with constantly generated content are getting a boost, on the other hand, it is clear to see lyrics sites getting affected since they have mostly unoriginal content.
What Is Panda-Friendly?
Anything that you make for the purpose of informing your potential visitor and everything that is organic and has natural links inside can be seen as appropriate content. But if you want to make sure that your content is up to Google’s standards, then make sure to follow these guidelines. Make sure that the content is long enough, and anything 700+ words can be seen as user-friendly, something that is explained in great detail, and truly a well-researched piece. Format your content so that it is easily accessed via mobile devices, tablets, and so on, as this is also something Google algorithm takes into an account. All the internal and external links must lead to related topics, not something that should feel “pushy”. Having active social media shares is also quite welcoming, as those numbers can easily influence the relevance of a particular blog post.
Creating a trustworthy page can sound difficult, but in reality, it can be quite easy. This includes that everything you post should be relevant and well written, from a linguistic standpoint, too – posts with grammatical errors, typos or poor spelling will be detected by Panda as irrelevant, or even spam. Another good thing to have in mind is that regular posts are also seen as friendlier, which is why even simple business pages, which are usually constant and change very little, should have an active blog with a constant stream of new related information.
If you see an increase, then Panda has been kind to you, and if you detect otherwise, and you notice a drop in organic visits and overall visibility of your website, then prepare yourself. The only fix to this is to have a thorough content audit and remove posts that are not up to code. Duplicate content is a great no-no, and Panda is extremely harsh on plagiarized content. This was done even by the previous Panda algorithms, but this one is even more thorough, and will easily detect stolen content.
There have been many winners and losers when it comes to both Panda and Penguin Google updates, and we can only hope that you were spared this time. While these updates maintain the delicate balance of the internet, and keep the spam content in check, they also promote high-quality content and can easily create the driving force behind you and your website, but only if you apply proper marketing strategies without trying to trick Google. Being truly original has never been more important, so try and avoid any get-popular-quickly SEO techniques since those can not only get you negative traffic, but can also ban you from Google Rankings, something which cannot be repaired until the next algorithm refresh or update.