Google Panda is an update that Google made in its search engine algorithm in February 2011. The aim of bringing out this algorithm was to lower the rank of those websites that had a poor quality and to increase the rank of those websites that had a high quality. The reason behind this update was because it was being felt in the industry that there were websites that had duplicate content on them but were still achieving higher rankings than those websites that had the original content on them.
Google continuously keeps releasing newer versions of Panda every month and Google Panda 4.0 is the latest update introduced by Google in May 2014.
Why is the Google Panda update relevant?
The Google Panda update is very relevant because it seeks to penalize those websites that have low quality content on them. In other words Google Panda uses a filter by which it ranks websites as low or high and those websites sites/ web pages that are found to be of a low quality are prevented from ranking well in the search engine results page. There are mathematical formulae associated with this filter and if some web pages are found to be in violation, then the penalty is imposed not just on those web pages but on the whole website. Google has also added another feature to the Panda update which seeks to penalize websites that practice over optimization. In such instances Google just checks a few web pages to determine if there are instances of violation and if found then webmasters are informed of the violation and asked to either remove these web pages, or block them or rewrite them. In case of re-writing content webmasters are advised to ensure that the content they create is of a very high quality and not just general, non-specific content that is not substantially different to what is already written on the website. Such content is termed as one that does not add value and is therefore categorized as low quality content.
How does the Google Panda update affect SEO?
SEO strategy is greatly impacted by Google Panda because it has a direct relationship with content on the website and user engagement. If the content on the website is rich and relevant to the user, then the user will continue reading it and will be more engaged. In such instances chances of the user leaving the web page will be less and therefore the bounce rate of the website or specific webpage will be lower. Also, if the content keeps getting updated on a routine basis and regularly, then the user will continue coming to the website again and again and this will boost the traffic on the website and increase rankings. On the other hand, if the content is either too thin and not user friendly, or if it is copied content and duplicate, then that will be detected by Google and the website will be penalized.
Steps to make your website compliant with Google Panda update
The following steps are recommended for websites that have been negatively impacted by the Google Panda update:
- Do an audit of the website to find whether it is compliant to Google Panda or not.
- Check for content that is on the website – whether it is original or duplicate?
- Go deeper into the content and check it for relevancy, user friendliness and engagement. As yourself the question “Is it worth sharing with others” or “Will users like it”
- Prepare a time based execution plan based on the audit report.
- Implement the plan with minimum delay.
- Prepare a content marketing strategy so that you can keep feeding new content on the website and refrain from repeating mistakes of the past such as having content duplication or thin content on the website.
Continue monitoring web analytics to check the traffic flow on your website and overall website rankings.