Google’s Panda update was a filter which caused a monumental upheaval to search rankings when it was first released in 2011. Panda allowed Google to take the quality of a site into context and adjust its rankings accordingly. Sites with poor quality content suffered and the overall landscape of SEO began to change.
Panda 4.2 launched in July 2015 and was expected to be a slow rollout. On the January 12th 2016, Gary Illyes from Google confirmed via Twitter that a core update had taken place – and many SEOs over at Search Engine Roundtable suspect Panda has been incorporated after an official Google statement read: “Panda is an algorithm that’s applied to sites overall and has become one of our core ranking signals.”
A site that has been recovering from the Panda filter may now expect to see a rise in rankings. Early indications seem fairly certain that Panda is now part of the core algorithm.
@rustybrick Another site that saw Panda recovery last year jumped another 45% over the past two days. Seems tied to quality.
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) January 12, 2016
Staying ahead of the algorithm
So what does this mean for your business or brand? If you’ve been following the latest trends, prizing quality content over spam-like link building, you should expect no change or even slight improvements.
Keeping ahead of Google’s ever-shifting ranking factors means knowing what they want from webmasters. Recent Google Quality Raters now assess a website’s ‘expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness’. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to take an honest look at your site and see how it fits with each of those categories.
Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post offers some valuable tips backed by Google officials to help you in the Panda era.
- Removal of content
If your rankings are suffering, it can be a long slog to remove low quality content. Instead of removal, you should fix the old content and build new, quality content – as stated by Google’s own Gary Illyes.
— Gary Illyes (@methode) October 7, 2015
If you really want to remove something old and spam-like, you can just add it to your robots.txt or NOINDEX file.
- How much high quality content?
A site can still be considered good quality if it has a few low quality pages. However, the vast majority of pages should still be classed as ‘high-quality’. If you’re trying to improve your rankings, it’s probably worth the time to find and improve those remaining pages.
- User-submitted content
If you have a forum, comment box or host guest posts, make sure they match the quality standard of the rest of your site.
- Word count is not a factor
John Mueller of Google commented on word count, saying “There’s no minimum length, and there’s no minimum number of articles a day that you have to post, nor even a minimum number of pages on a website. In most cases, quality is better than quantity. Our algorithms explicitly try to find and recommend websites that provide content that’s of high quality, unique, and compelling to users. Don’t fill your site with low-quality content, instead work on making sure that your site is the absolute best of its kind.”
Whether you’re a blogger, news publication or site that leverages ads of any kind, make sure they aren’t obtrusive. Excessive ads ‘above the fold’ are penalised.
It remains to be seen what happens to websites in the wake of this update. Many SEOs are now saying Panda is definitely part of the core ranking algorithm, while Google itself has not confirmed this. But it HAS confirmed an update – and websites previously affected by Panda are seeing rises and falls in ranking.
For advice on managing your SEO and web rankings, contact Mediaworks today.