Google Panda 4.0 in 2014 – What you need to know

Google Panda

From its initial launch in February 2011, Google Panda has been one of the most impactful and far reaching algorithm updates Google has released in recent years.

Despite Google stating in early 2013 that they would no longer be announcing Panda updates (as it had effectively become part of the main algorithm), like Star Wars films, Panda is back and in a big way. But fear not, although Google Panda may be impacting your search engine optimisation results and successes, by being proactive and facing your issues you can solve them and recover from Panda.

However, there might be good news for many conscientious website owners as in the weeks that have followed since its release, many have reported improvements.  In March 2013, it was announced that Google was working on a softer Panda update – one that may help small businesses or websites caught up in the fallout that followed Panda’s initial launch.

So join us in our guide to Google Panda 4.0 and what you need to know if you are concerned that your website might have been hit.

What is Google Panda 4.0?

Google Panda 4.0 is the fourth major iteration of the Panda algorithm update (named after Navneet Panda – the Googler who worked on the algorithm and technology behind it).

The original goal of Panda was to identify low quality websites and ensure they did not appear high in the search engines.  This covers several areas including:

  • Poor quality content
  • Duplicate content (both internally and externally)
  • Spammy website structure and/or content
  • Over optimisation

If Google Penguin focuses on spammy link building activities, Google Panda focuses primarily on whether the website is providing enough engaging and unique content for the user.

What has been the impact?

Google Panda 4.0 was announced as affecting approximately 7.5% of English search queries (its impact is felt differently by different language searches).

Another name for Panda is the Content Farm algorithm – effectively named because it specifically targeted websites with large amounts of spammy content. Historically these have looked like the badly written articles that were distributed to multiple article listing websites.

These then impacted non-article websites which had duplicate content or poor quality content in much the same way.

As such, we have seen a lot of content farm websites close and website owners doubling their efforts to build high quality websites.

Not that long ago, Google updated its own guidelines on helping your website rank to:

‘In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.’

This underlines Google Panda’s main focus.

Google Panda 4.0 – the losers

More recently, much ado has been made about Google Panda 4.0 affecting eBay’s search engine rankings. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land notes that eBay has lost 33% of its search visibility.

eBay hasn’t been the only casualty though.

Many press release websites, a staple of digital marketing activity in recent years, have seen their search visibility decrease significantly.

google_panda_pic

Sean Malseed at Seer Interactive has seen the rankings of several press release websites fall by the wayside.

Sean highlights PRWeb.com losing more than 50% of their traffic overnight – 500,000 daily sessions!

And earlier this month, Yahoo announced they were to close Yahoo Voices and The Yahoo Contributor Network – the successor to Associated Content.

yahoo-voices-google-panda

For those who don’t remember, Associated Content was one of the largest content farms and when Yahoo bought the network, it rebranded and culled a huge amount of spammy content in a bid to save the platform.

Perhaps Google’s most recent algorithm update is the final nail in the coffin. And while Yahoo has been aggressively streamlining its service offering, its closure of Voices highlights the growing importance of producing original, high quality and unique content.

What do I need to do for my website?

Google Panda 4.0

5 tips for staying on Panda’s good side

  1. Focus on content

It goes without saying but focusing on the content of your website an digital strategy is extremely important. It may be worthwhile conducting a full content audit. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this content unique?
  • Would I want to email this content to a friend?
  • Is this content in-depth, engaging and well written?
  1. Focus on the user

This might seem overly obvious but you’d be surprised by how many people get this wrong. Your content is there not simply to please Google, but it should have an audience, a clear purpose and you should have KPIs to measure the success of your content.

You should be writing for your audience, not writing for yourself. What do they want to read? What do they want to know? And more importantly – why should they read what you’ve written?

  1. Be unique and differentiate yourself from the competition

If all of your competitors are jumping up and down and saying the same thin,g not only might it be difficult for your content to rank in the search engine din, but there’s no reason for a potential customer to favour your content over someone else’s.

Be innovative in how you approach content. I like to adopt a Franco-Electro mantra when it comes to creating and planning content: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

  1. What would do the neighbours say?

A business fundamental is to know what your competitors are doing and how to react. This goes for the same with search engine presence and content in a post-Panda world.

Conduct a content audit of your competitors – what are they blogging about? Are they creating infographics? How are they communicating to your customers?

It also allows you to identify opportunities where you can differentiate yourself and expand on areas where they’re weak.

  1. Keep at it!

As always, it’s important to ensure you never give up and constantly work, rework and refine your content strategy and creation.

More reading on Google Panda 4.0

I think I’ve been hit by Google Panda 4.0

If you think you’ve been hit by Google Panda 4.0, try not to panic! There are steps you can take and activity that can help rectify the problem and help you recover from Google Panda 4.0

Call us for additional advice and information on 020 3597 3777 or email us at hello@minttwist.com to discuss any of your concerns or SEO requirements.

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