Google Panda 4.0 – What you need to know

When Google launches a new algorithm update, the world listens. The last major algorithm update it launched was Penguin 2.0, which was one of the biggest algorithm updates in the history of SEO. So what’s Panda 4.0 about?

How does Panda affect SEO?

Google launched the first Panda update in 2011, targeting low-quality and ‘thin’ content. The Panda algorithm update focused on providing users with the best quality content possible. From the original Google blog post:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites – sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

The Panda algorithm update is applied to search results on a monthly basis – Google continually refines its algorithm, finds new low-quality or ‘thin’ content sites, and then reduces their overall value. And when a site’s value is reduced, their rankings fall, and any value they were passing through to other sites (through links) is also reduced.

How would your website be affected by the Panda update?

If your website has low quality or thin content, then the web pages in question will lose rankings and your website’s overall rankings will be negatively affected as well. That’s the direct effect.

The indirect effect is when a website that was linking to you loses its value. The link that was previously helping your website rank is no longer helping you. And if you had a bunch of links from a number of sites that were devalued by Panda (like EzineArticles) then you would have lost rankings.

What’s new with Panda 4.0?

There haven’t been too many analyses conducted on the effect of Panda 4.0. The only one of note is from people over at Search Metrics, who conducted a preliminary analysis of the winners and losers. They found that it was mostly sites that published syndicated or duplicate content (eg aggregator and comparison sites) that lost out in the update although they did say that the results were inconclusive.

What we do know is that the Panda update is all about rewarding high-quality content and penalising low-quality or ‘thin’ content. So it’s safe to say that Panda 4.0 will be targeting the same type of thing, albeit in a different way (otherwise it would be called something else). When the dust settles we’ll be able to expand more on this point.

So how do you protect yourself from Panda?

The key to a successful SEO strategy in 2014 and beyond is focusing on quality. Quality content and quality link building. You should look at your site in detail and make sure that every page on your website has unique content and adds value, especially if you run an ecommerce site (ie category pages). Here’s a guide from Google on building a high-quality site. And here’s a list of things you should avoid.

You should be building quality links from websites that are related to your industry, and that make sense for your website. And if you’re publishing guest posts on other sites, make sure the sites you’re getting published on have a high editorial standard so that any content you publish continues to add value into the future (and doesn’t lose value in a future Google update).

Can we help you?

At Web Profits we analysed 1237 websites in 154 markets (and counting) to find out what Google was looking for when ranking websites, and have adapted our SEO strategy accordingly. To find out about our 3-part SEO strategy, click here to get in touch.

Otherwise, here’s some additional reading on Panda 4.0:

Alex Cleanthous

Alex Cleanthous

Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits

Alex Cleanthous is Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits. With more than 10 years experience in online marketing, Alex is always on the lookout for smarter, faster and more scalable ways to achieve maximum growth with minimum spend.

One comment

  1. Kimmy Chan says:

    I agree with this. Original content is still the key.

    May 29th, 2014 at 10:12 am