What is Google Panda?
The goal of the Google Panda algorithm update was to show more high-quality websites in Google’s organic search engine results and lessen the number of low-quality websites. It was also called “Farmer” at first.
Google says that when Panda was first released, it changed up to 12 percent of English language search results over a few months. Between 2011 and 2015, there were 28 changes to the data on Panda.
What Sets Off Panda?
When Google released its Panda update, it fixed a variety of issues with search engine results pages (SERPs).
Thin content: Thin Content is weak and without any real substance; for example, a collection of pages discussing various health conditions might just include a few phrases addressing each ailment.
Duplicate content: This content is duplicated and can be found in multiple locations around the web. When you have many pages on your site that contain essentially the same text, you run the risk of running into duplicate content difficulties.
A chimney-sweeping service, for instance, might set up ten separate web pages, one for each city it operates in, with nearly identical content across all of them except for the city names, such as “We clean chimneys in Denver” on one page, “We clean chimneys in Boulder” on another, and “We clean chimneys in Aspen” on yet another.
Low-quality content: Lacking in-depth information, low-quality content pages are of limited utility to human readers.
Lack of authority: An absence of authority or trustworthiness on the part of the content creators; this refers to materials that have been generated by sources that are not accepted as definitive or validated.
According to a Google representative, sites that want to escape Panda’s effects should make efforts to establish themselves as an authority on their topic and as trustworthy organizations to which a human user would be willing to provide financial information.
Content Farming: Content farming refers to the practice of producing massive quantities of low-quality content by scraping the content of other sites.
A content farm is a website that uses a large number of low-paid writers to produce a large volume of short articles covering a broad range of search engine queries.
This type of content is not authoritative or useful to readers because its primary goal is to increase the website’s search engine rankings for as many terms as possible.
Low-quality user-generated content (UGC): a blog that accepts and publishes guest blog articles that are brief, replete with spelling and grammatical errors, and devoid of authoritative information.
Low-quality Content Surrounding Affiliate Links: Poor writing near sponsored affiliate links.
Websites Blocked by Users: Low-quality websites that users are actively avoiding by either excluding them from search results or by installing a Chrome extension.
Content Mismatching Search Query: Pages that “promise” to offer appropriate answers when clicked on in search results but fail to do so because their content does not match the search query.
For instance, a user may be dissatisfied to click on a link labeled “Coupons for Whole Foods” only to be taken to a page full of advertisements.
How Do I Know if I’ve Been Hit by Panda?
One sign of a possible Panda penalty is a sudden drop in your website’s organic traffic or search engine rankings that happens around the time that an algorithm update is known to happen.
But it’s important to keep in mind that many things can cause your rankings and traffic to drop.
These include the rise of a new competitor in your market (look at who is ranking above you to see if someone new has moved ahead of you), manual penalties (check Google Search Console for reported problems), expected seasonal drops in consumer interest (like a ski lodge in July), or even a completely different Google update than the one you think caused the drop (for example, Penguin instead of Panda).
When a known, named update happens, it’s important to look at the documentation from the industry about the practices that are said to be part of the update.
If you know when your rankings or traffic started dropping, look at these lists of bad practices to see if any of them are happening on your website. Then, if you think you’ve found a link between bad habits and an update, do something to fix the problem.
How to Recover From Panda
In the SEO industry, Panda is often mentioned as an update that can be hard to get back from. But since the Panda update depended a lot on the quality of a website or its content, most steps for getting back on top usually involve making that quality better. Things to do to fix the problem are:
- Putting an end to content farming
- Rewriting website content to make sure it is good, useful, relevant, trustworthy, and authoritative
- Changing the ratio of ads to content or affiliate links to content so that ads and affiliate links don’t take over pages
- Making sure that a page’s content is a good match for a user’s search.
- Getting rid of duplicate content or fixing it
- Careful screening and editing of user-generated content to make sure it is original, free of mistakes, and useful to readers, if needed.
- Using the Robots noindex, nofollow command to stop duplicate or nearly duplicate internal website content or other troublesome elements from being indexed.
Overall, websites that consistently post high-quality, original content don’t have much to worry about with this update. However, if your website has done anything bad, Panda may have hit it at some point.
From a business point of view, the best way to avoid Panda is to build a brand that is known as an expert in its field and a website that is a trusted resource because it has great content.