Google’s Panda update isn’t quite as cute and cuddly as the Panda you may be familiar with. This update was launched in early 2011 and turned the world of SEO upside down. In Google’s quest to remove poor quality sites from their index, many sites saw a dramatic dip in their rankings. Some websites were able to recover over time, but others were not so lucky. What exactly did Google do with this change and what is a Panda update?
Before the Panda update, it was relatively easy for a website to rank a page with little content if the page had strong backlinks pointing to it. Many marketers and website owners were taking advantage of this by creating hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pages targeting long-tail keywords that had little competition and were easy to rank for. Each page may have only received a handful of visitors, but this number adds up quickly when you consider how many pages the website has. If a website had a thousand pages and each page received only 5 visitors, this equates to 5,000 visitors each day. As a result, websites and blogs were able to funnel in more traffic with relative ease and expand their bottom line.
Panda was released in an effort to remove poor quality, low value web pages from the search results. This new, sophisticated algorithm was built to analyze a visitor’s behavior and discern what people view as low quality and high quality. New ranking factors were introduced and Google’s famous PageRank was downgraded in importance.
From time to time, Google will release a new Panda update. This may be to fix some issues with the algorithm or it may be to strengthen the update. Some websites that were previously hit by Panda may be able to escape, while others who slipped through the cracks may be caught by a new Panda update.
How can a website avoid being penalized by a Panda update? The first and most important thing is to analyze each page of your website. Ask yourself the following questions:
Pages that offer little value and are thin on content should be removed, blocked from being indexed or they should be rewritten. If you do decide to rewrite the content on a page, you need to ensure that you are offering something informative and valuable. “Fluff” content will likely do very little to improve your rankings.
A website owner or blogger that is focused on providing quality content to their visitors will likely be unaffected by Panda updates. Google stresses the importance of bringing something new to the table or looking at age-old topics from a new perspective. This may require a bit of creativity and ingenuity when it comes to business websites, but a solid content strategy can prevent your site from being hit by a Panda penalty.