Launch date: February 24, 2011
Hazards: Duplicate, plagiarized or thin content; user-generated spam; keyword stuffing
It essentially runs on autopilot. Google’s learning algorithms may occasionally identify new signals that can be used to separate documents into “low quality” and “high quality” groups.
The Panda algorithm itself runs continuously as a part of Google’s primary indexing and scoring system. Almost every day, Google introduces changes to its ranking algorithm. Some are tiny tweaks; others seriously shake up the SERPs. This cheat sheet will help you make sense of the most important algo changes and penalties rolled out in recent years, with a brief overview and SEO advice on each. But before we start, let’s do something fun. What if you could see which of the updates impacted your organic traffic, and in what way? Surprise surprise, you can, with a tool called Rank Tracker. All you need to do is launch Rank Tracker and create a project for your site. Then, click the Update Traffic button in Rank Tracker’s top menu, and enter your Google Analytics credentials to sync your account with the tool. In the lower part of your Rank Tracker dashboard, switch to Organic Traffic:
Panda Launch date: Feb 24, 2011 Hazards: Duplicate, plagiarized or thin content; user-generated spam; keyword stuffing How it works: Panda assigns a so-called “quality score” to webpages; this score is then used as a ranking factor. Initially, Panda was a filter rather than part of Google’s ranking algo, but in January 2016, it was officially incorporated into the core algorithm. Panda rollouts have become more frequent, so both penalties and recoveries now happen faster. How to adjust: Run regular site checks for content duplication, thin content, and keyword stuffing. To do that, you’ll need a site crawler,
Triggers for Panda
The Panda algorithm update addressed a number of problematic phenomena in Google SERPs, including:
Thin content – Weak pages with very little relevant or substantive text and resources, such as a set of pages describing a variety of health conditions with only a few sentences present on each page.
Duplicate content – Copied content that appears on the Internet in more than one place. Duplicate content issues can also happen on your own website when you have multiple pages featuring the same text with little or no variation. For example, a chimney sweep company might create 10 pages, one for each city the business serves, with content that is nearly identical on all of the pages with only the city names swapped out (e.g. “We clean chimneys in Denver” on one page and “We clean chimneys in Boulder” on the next, and “We clean chimneys in Aspen” on the next).
Low-quality content – Pages that provide little value to human readers because they lack in-depth information.
Lack of authority/trustworthiness – Content produced by sources that are not considered definitive or verified. A Google rep stated that sites aiming to avoid Panda’s impact should work to become recognized as authorities on their topic and entities to which a human user would feel comfortable giving their credit card information.
Content farming – Large numbers of low-quality pages, often aggregated from other websites. For example, of a content farm might be a website that employs large numbers of writers at a low wage to create short articles covering a vast variety of search engine queries, producing a body of content that lacks authority and value to readers because its core purpose is simply to gain search engine rankings for every conceivable term.
Low-quality user-generated content (UGC) – An example of this type of low-value User Generated Content would be a blog that publishes guest blog posts that are short, full of spelling and grammatical errors and lacking in authoritative information.
High ad-to-content ratio – Pages made up mostly of paid advertising rather than original content.
Low-quality content surrounding affiliate links – Poor content around links pointing to paid affiliate programs.
Websites blocked by users – Sites that human users are either blocking directly in the search engine results or by using a Chrome browser extension to do so, indicating low quality.
Content mismatching search query – Pages that “promise” to deliver relevant answers if clicked on in the search results, but then fail to do so. For example, a website page might be titled “Coupons for Whole Foods,” but when clicked on, there might be no coupons or there might just be a page of ads, leading to disappointment.
How to recover from Panda
In the SEO industry, Panda has been frequently cited as an update from which it can be difficult to recover. However, given that the Panda update hinged largely on website/content quality, steps for recovery generally come back to improving that quality. Remedial actions to take include:
Abandoning content farming practices
Overhauling website content for quality, usefulness, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority
Revising the ad/content or affiliate/content ratio so that pages are not dominated by ads or affiliate links
Ensuring that the content of a given page is a relevant match to a user’s query
Removing or overhauling duplicate content
Careful vetting and editing of user-generated content and ensuring that it is original, error-free and useful to readers, where applicable
Using the Robots index, no follow a command to block the indexing of duplicate or near-duplicate internal website content or other problematic elements
In sum, websites that consistently publish high-quality, original content have little to fear from this update, but if your website has engaged in problematic practices, it may have been hit at some point by Panda. From a practical, business standpoint, your best hope of avoiding Panda is to develop a brand that becomes recognized as an authority in its field and to build a website that becomes a trusted resource by dint of its excellent content.
Other facts about the Panda update
Panda was initially rolled out separately from the core algorithm but was then integrated into it on an unconfirmed date in March 2012.
Panda was named after Google staffer Navneet Panda.