As you may have heard already, Matt Cutts (the man in charge of the algorithm) has announced the release of Google Panda 4.0.
Latest reports from Google suggest this update may be gentler on sites than previous updates have been.
As people have already seen increasing fluctuations in their rankings, it's important to know what Panda is and what you can expect from this latest update.
What is Panda?
Panda was first released in 2011 as a way of targeting sites with low quality content to prevent them appearing in the search engine results page. It helped boost high quality content in order to provide searchers with the best and most relevant search results possible.
'Low quality' content could include;
- Duplicate or automatically generated content
- Plagiarised Content
- Spammy content that may include overuse of advertising
- Keyword-stuffed content
It's important to understand what constitutes 'good-quality' content, too;
- Relevant to your website
- Written for your audience, not search engines
- Informative and engaging
- Grammatically correct
- No duplicate content
- Post fresh, high-quality content regularly
At the Search Marketing Expo earlier this year, Mat Cutts announced that his team was working on the 'next generation', softer Panda update that should help small businesses do better in the search results. This suggests a 'softening' of the algorithm to aid small businesses, but the update will no doubt retain the core principle of the Panda Algorithm.
The screen shots below from mozcast.com supports this statement. As you can see from the first shot the domain diversity - or the percentage of unique sub-domains appearing on page one of Google - has jumped in the last 2 days. The second screen shot shows us the number of rankings by the top 10 sub-domains (listed below) has dramatically dropped. What this is telling us is that there is already dramatically less 'crowding' on page one of Google by these big brand names, making more room for smaller domains (or smaller businesses).
It's also possible the update may have changed the way the algorithm targets websites, and it may now only target pages rather than entire sites. This would allow businesses to correct one-off problems rather than suffering site-wide consequences. It may have also changed the criteria in which it uses to identify poor content, perhaps giving more leniency to rectify the content before being penalised.
Panda is nothing for you to fear. If you have high quality content, that's informative and relevant for your users then you should have nothing to worry about. It's merely a way for low quality, spammy websites to be pushed down the results the page making more room for those playing by the rules. Hopefully this new update will bring good news for small businesses, and help them leverage their success in Google.
Whether or not you've been affected by this update yet, it's a good time to be going over your content strategy and ensuring it adheres to Google's best practice guidelines. If you would like more information or advice on how this update could be affecting your business, please don’t hesitate to call us on +64 9 5258818.