Google are continuously making tweaks to improve the user-experience of their search engine. Yet, every so often they make a change with a significant impact to SEO, and the Panda 4.0 update is certainly one of them. When Matt Cutts announced the update in his Tweet on the 20th May 2014, some of the most popular websites online were already facing a huge drop in their rankings. And with reports that this update could affect 7.5% of English search queries, this could be one of the most impactful changes in Google’s history.
First introduced in February 2011, Panda is the name for a series of algorithm updates which intend to identify and penalise the rankings of low-quality websites. The updates focus on weeding-out websites with low quality content to allow legitimate, higher quality websites to rank higher in search. Panda 4.0 is the fourth in this series of updates.
The Panda 4.0 update is another step in Google’s ongoing aim to improve the relevance of search engine results, to provide users with better answers to what they’re looking for. So far, reports are showing that websites with a large number of pages with ‘thin’ content are likely to be affected by Panda 4.0. ‘Thin’ content could refer to a very small amount of low-quality content on a page or a small amount of content in comparison to a high volume of advertisements.
Ask.com. Examiner.com and eBay are some of the biggest losers from this update with eBay losing visibility for many of its keywords and reporting an 80% loss in organic rankings. The Panda update has hit-hard on eBay’s ‘doorway pages’ which show in search for specific products but lead to pages with ‘thin’ content, anchor-rich text links and ads.
Find out what Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts has to say about the update:
The Panda update is still in its premature stages so the best course of action for now is to keep an eye on your website and financial analytics, taking note of any major dips and spikes. It’s also a good idea to stay up to date with any new reports about Panda over the next few weeks.
And if you aren’t already, make sure you’re following Google’s best practices for website content. Update your site regularly with unique, well-written, relevant content that meets the needs of your potential visitors. As long as the content is sufficient, easily accessible and not buried between advertisements then you shouldn’t be in Google’s firing line.
The easiest way to regularly update your site with quality content is via a blog. Each blog post is a new web page so every time you add a post, you’re adding fresh content your website. And while a quality blog will help you stay in Google’s good books, every post is another chance to get found in the search engines. Publish content that targets what your audience may be searching for and you could draw in more traffic.