Google Panda is one of the major changes incorporated in the search engine ranking algorithm to filter out the websites with poor quality content from the search results. Initially introduced in February 2011, it gets updated from time to time.
With every Panda refresh, there is a possibility that previously hit sites may get escaped if they have improved their content and made the required changes, or there can also be instances where the sites that managed to escape then can get caught now.
Google recently released Panda v 4.0 on 21 May 2014. Before Matt Cutts actually confirmed the change via Twitter about the Panda hit, there had been widespread speculation about it but none could find out the exact update.
On asking how long it actually took Panda 4.0 to fully roll out, Matt Cutts tweeted:
“Panda 4.0 actually rolled out a bit faster than usual–it didn’t take 10 days to fully roll out.”
It is indeed interesting to check how Panda 4.0 affected sites across industries and categories. Here are a few findings about this update:
Recovering from the Panda update: The hard way
There is a wide set of changes that you will need to make to your websites to recover from the Panda 4.0 update viz. removing low-quality, duplicate or thin content, making major changes in on-page seo, eliminating over-optimization and doorway pages, remove canonicalization issues, restructuring internal linking and navigation, and in some cases, you may even require redesigning the website.
Effect on forums
The update affected a large number of forums, including large and small niche online discussion boards. The forums that were able to remove thin content, user-generated spam and low-quality pages managed to recover from Panda 4.0.
Effect of removing or noindexing the thin content
If your site is hit by Panda, you should readily audit your content. If you find thin or duplicate content on your website, remove it or get it no indexed. In short, you just need to make sure that Google has your right content indexed. In the recent Panda hit, a site that had more than 30M pages indexed and had serious content issues got hit by Panda resulting in the loss of about half of the original organic traffic. On the other hand, the site that managed to noindex its thin content pages, recovered during the update.
The sites that had been consuming syndicated content at various stages got hit by Panda resulting in a serious drop in organic traffic. Either the canonical tags were not properly placed or the content was not linking back to the original content on the third-party websites.
Effect on press release websites
This time Panda has hit even the top press release websites, including PRWeb, BusinessWire, PR Newswire and PRLog. PRNewswire dropped approximately 63% ,while PRWeb showed a major drop of about 71%.
Some websites have links and ads that lead the visitor to weird and risky sites that start auto-downloading software and other types of files. This makes users double clicking the back button to return to Google’s search results page. When they do this, it sends bad signals to Google about your site and content. Also, there are chances that people might report your site to Google or other organizations. Panda is bound to engagement, which is ultimately bound to users. If you will disappoint users, they will come back to ruin you.
Coming to the end, it was enthralling to analyze the effects of Panda 4.0. It truly recognized the efforts of websites that managed to improve the quality and usability of their content; and at the same time, attacked the spammed websites.
Take it or not! If you really want to go up the charts, don’t try to play with Google or it will hammer you with one of its updates. Always remember that fresh, relevant and engaging content is always going to help and however hard it might be, Panda recovery is possible.