Everything You Need to Know About Google Panda
With the Internet buzzing about Google’s algorithm update, Panda, BSP thought it would be an informative marketing tip to provide you a brief history, overview and some recovery tips on this cute teddy bear.
Like it or not, Google has a huge influence on the world of Internet marketing. A good ranking on their SERP leads to visitors. However SEO tactics are constantly scrutinized and changes can suddenly impact what sites are well ranked. In the end, Google is selling relevant search results and they obviously put a lot of effort into clearly defining what a relevant result is.
The Panda Update
No change to Google’s functionality has had such wide-reaching impact as the Panda update. With over 12 percent of all searches affected by the primary rollout, the world of SEO was turned upside down for many Internet marketers.
The Panda algorithm was specifically created to target content farms and scraper sites, websites that contain lots of highly optimized, sometimes copied content aimed at serving up advertisements but offering little of value to visitors. Many of these sites had learned exactly how to balance out backlinks, keywords and utilize things like spun articles to appeal to Google’s algorithms rather than focusing on what people actually want and need when visiting their site.
How Panda Works
Panda aimed to put an end to the over-optimization of sites. By using human quality tester’s ratings of various websites, the Google Panda algorithm learns what makes a site great in the eyes of human visitors. Unlike other search factors that are evaluated on a per page basis, Panda penalties are applied to an entire site. This means that bad pages existing on the same domain will drag down its good pages as well.
A Brief History
Panda 1.0 was released in February 24, 2011. The first roll out applied to English-language queries only. It specifically aimed to penalize content farms and scraper sites that steal content from other websites and pass it off as their own. The fact that entire domains could now be punished for a single low quality page was something new that caused noticeable impact to many sites.
Version 2.0 came along in April 11, 2011. This version started incorporating information about pages that users of Google had blocked from their result set. It also started looking at long-tail queries, highly specific search phrases with lots of detail, to see what sites were serving up quality results. This effected many ecommerce sites with low-quality content.
More updates were rolled out on an almost monthly basis for the rest of the year. Some of them happened very quietly with no official word from Google. The updates continued to refine the new algorithm. Some sites regained their former standings, while others lost traction during these updates. Eventually, almost every language was added to the system. Social media and video content was given more importance in evaluating a site.
Avoiding Panda Penalties and Recovering
If your site has been demoted by the Panda updates, the situation might seem hopeless. However, there are positive steps that you can take to get things back to normal. Keep in mind that it doesn’t happen overnight. Panda runs periodically and reexamines sites. Youâ€™ll need to be patient and possibly do some major reworking of your site to get things back to normal.
Content is the biggest driver for Google Panda. The obvious things to do are remove any duplicate content. Even honest sites with good intentions sometimes end up with duplicate content. If you used a template system to create your site, it’s possible that a lot of pre-written text is being identified as duplicate. One of the most common places duplicate content exists is on product pages. Many sites copy a manufacturers description of products they sell or review without a second thought. This will, however, lead to penalizing your page.
The structure and flow of your page also plays a factor in how Google Panda evaluates your site. Most professional websites have a similar flow. A few clicks should get you to almost anything in the site. If your site has an unconventional flow or is littered with broken links or pages with no content, Panda will see it as low quality.
The quality of content is also very important. Pages that are too short or contain grammatical and spelling errors will be penalized. Incorporating latent-semantic indexing is very important. The easiest way to do this is make sure your article is really about the keywords your focusing on.
Link building also plays a significant impact on how Panda sees your site. If you are using black hat SEO tactics like buying links or buying reviews, it’s time to leave that behind. A link coming from what Panda considers a shady neighborhood will hurt your site. Having lots of backlinks is ok, but just make sure they are to high quality, relevant sites.
Remember, the idea of Panda is to look at your site and determine its quality as a human would. Think about the things that you hate to see when you click on a SERP link. Sites with too many advertisements, unfocused navigation and long loading times won’t fare well with Panda or human visitors.
Some Internet marketers were all but decimated by the Panda updates in 2011. However, others have made a strong recovery and moved on. Like any business endeavor, the market’s environment can shift rapidly. Only those who keep up with changes will stay relevant and competitive. One great way to get your site back on track is consulting with a professional SEO company that stays up to date with the latest techniques and has a documented record of success.
What will the future hold for search engines? Google has certainly shown that they have no plans of resting on their laurels. As a web site owner, you can’t afford to either. Staying up to date and focusing on quality will help you see success in the world of online marketing for years to come.