Google Panda Update: What In The Name Of Google Is Going On?

Release Date: February 24th

Change name: Panda

Type: Algorithm update

A major update release by Google, sites in the US by and large affected, but worldwide affect also comes into effect. Google’s Panda is not a single update, but has been released over a period of time. The aim of this update was to eradicate low quality websites from the rankings and promote high quality websites. Social media search results and news websites have seen a boost in their rankings with this update.  So far, however, sites with a lot of advertising and superfluous content have seen a key plunge in their rankings.

The first update was released February 24th, which had the foremost affect in search engine rankings, and the latest update was released on November 5th. So, in total there have been 21 Panda updates so far.

In order, here is the list of the release dates of updates:

  1. Panda Update 1, Feb. 24, 2011 (11.8% of queries; announced; English in US only)
  2. Panda Update 2, April 11, 2011 (2% of queries; announced; rolled out in English internationally)
  3. Panda Update 3, May 10, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  4. Panda Update 4, June 16, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  5. Panda Update 5, July 23, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  6. Panda Update 6, Aug. 12, 2011 (6-9% of queries in many non-English languages; announced)
  7. Panda Update 7, Sep. 28, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  8. Panda Update 8, Oct. 19, 2011 (about 2% of queries; belatedly confirmed)
  9. Panda Update 9, Nov. 18, 2011: (less than 1% of queries; announced)
  10. Panda Update 10, Jan. 18, 2012 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  11. Panda Update 11, Feb. 27, 2012 (no change given; announced)
  12. Panda Update 12, March 23, 2012 (about 1.6% of queries impacted; announced)
  13. Panda Update 13, April 19, 2012 (no change given; belatedly revealed)
  14. Panda Update 14, April 27, 2012: (no change given; confirmed; first update within days of another)
  15. Panda Update 15, June 9, 2012: (1% of queries; belatedly announced)
  16. Panda Update 16, June 25, 2012: (about 1% of queries; announced)
  17. Panda Update 17, July 24, 2012:(about 1% of queries; announced)
  18. Panda Update 18, Aug. 20, 2012: (about 1% of queries; belatedly announced)
  19. Panda Update 19, Sep. 18, 2012: (less than 0.7% of queries; announced)
  20. Panda Update 20 , Sep. 27, 2012 (2.4% English queries, impacted, belatedly announced
  21. Panda Update 21, Nov. 5, 2012 (1.1% of English-language queries in US; 0.4% worldwide; confirmed, not announced)

 According to Matt Cutts, Google’s head of spam:

“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.”

How Do I Know My Website Is Hit By These Updates

Use a tracking and monitoring software installed on your website, such as Google Analytics. In the Traffic Sources>Search Engines> Select Country/Territory To US and then select a time range from the top menu. If you see a major decrease in traffic from the US (if your website is targeting Google US),  then you are being hit by this update.

You can use various filters to see which pages of your website are not getting traffic like before, this update can be a site-level hit so you have to carefully examine every page of your site.

Why Is My Website Affected By These Updates

There can be multiple factors which can be the cause of this hit.

  1. Low quality content
  2. Duplicate content
  3. Lots of advertising and no or little content
  4. High bounce rate %
  5. Low returning visitors %
  6. Low click through % from Google’s search results
  7. Low time spent on the site by visitors
  8. High usage of boilerplate content (Boilerplate is any text that is or can be reused in new contexts or applications without being changed much from the original.)
  9. Low quality inbound links to the website
  10. No links to and from social media pages

Google Panda Update

What Can I Do To Avoid Being Hit By These Updates

Carefully examine your website from the root level.

Make a list of those pages which are being hit (via Analytics) .

Compare those pages with the ones that have not been affected thus far.

Check for low quality content:

Never stuff or bloat the page with keywords or non-helpful content ; that’s SEO malpractice!

Check for duplicate content:

  • Add quality content to your website – our main focus should be quality since a majority of websites being hit do not have quality content, or are over optimized (doing too much?) .
  • Add subscription buttons
  • Add newsletters.
  • Add social sharing buttons

This will help increase  returning visitors

Make sure that text and html ratio is maintained (i.e too little text with a lot of links, advertisements, and images are unnecessary).

Check for user-friendliness in navigation, website operation and readability (i.e., organize everything). If you focus on the quality and user experience it will not only turn your visitors into returning visitors and subscribers, but also benefit from search engine rankings. For example:

  • Link to helpful resources and content on your website to keep reader interest and the reader involved with your website.
  • This will help in reducing the bounce rate.
  • Don’t use any theme which is not helpful for SEO and the user.
  • Never over-optimize any page(s). If so, edit on-page SEO.
  • Promote your website on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Increase brand awareness and make your website a brand name.
  • Focus on quality link building.

Implement and test all of these factors site-wide and wait for the results. Rinse and repeat!

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