Google Panda has been shaking the SEO world since its first introduction back in 2011. Since then, SEO experts and various sites keeping track of every major and minor changes from Google have confirmed 26 updates and refreshes. The Google Panda 4.1 is the 27th update to be released by Google.
According to some experts, newer versions of Penguin are also expected to be rolled out very soon.
A brief history of Google Panda updates
On February 2011 Google Panda was incorporated into Google’s ranking algorithms affecting up to 12% of SERPs. It was also called farmer update since it seemed to affect scraper sites and content farms the most.
On April 2011, Panda 2 was rolled out to the entire world and this time, it also affected queries in other languages.
Periodically, there were also data refreshes which cannot be compared to fully fledged algorithmic updates, but were more like filters applied to existing updates.
Come September 25th 2014 and we find this on the Google plus profile of a Google employee.
(See Google Algorithm Change History)
What Is Google Panda 4.1?
Google Panda 4.1 is the latest update by Google in weeding out sites with bad content. It began rolling out on the 25th of September, 2014. According to Google, the rollout was slow and gradual and was planned to come to an end in the 1st week of October. Like the previous Panda updates, Google Panda 4.1 continues to identify low quality content with a higher precision.
How Does Google Panda 4.1 Affect Websites?
Google’s major goal is to reward websites that contain high quality content. The chief deciding factor in this algorithm is content.
Panda has the ability to alter the visibility of your site on Google. If the algorithm finds that the site in general has bad content, is keyword stuffed or if the content is copied from other sites then you are in for trouble. Organic visibility will plummet overnight and it will take months and probably another refresh in the algorithms to get back rankings.
Google Panda 4.1 is designed to enhance the rankings of websites with high quality content and also demote sites with low quality content by placing them at the bottom of search results. Google Panda 4.1 is all about high quality content.
Pierre Far, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, states that,“this update should be fine for small and medium sized businesses that prioritize their content’s quality.”
If you are one of those site owners who have been making every effort to produce high quality content, this update should reward you with higher rankings.
Google Penguin on the other hand, was formulated to reduce the trust that Google has in sites with an unnaturally high number of low quality backlinks.
According to Google’s philosophy, if a site has good content then people would naturally link to it. There’s no need to artificially pump up the rankings.
Other than that there are manual penalties which happen when someone at Google reviews your site manually. If he/she finds that the site has been violating quality guidelines you’d be receiving a manual penalty. This can be caused due to Private Blog Network links, spammy link profile, bad content etc.
But all loss in rankings and dip in traffic cannot be attributed to algorithmic updates from Google.
Previously, Kissmetrics suffered from a Panda update. Given that the content is top-notch the possibilities were rounded to either excessive guest blog links or duplicate https and http pages that were canonicals of each other.
So, in case you experience a dip in traffic or loss in rankings, do your research before blaming Panda alone.
Which sites were the biggest losers in this update?
Google claims that based on the feedback by various webmasters they were able to make a sizable change in the way the search engine identified low quality content.
Following the carnage, the site Searchmetrics compiled an organic SEO visibility report for some major sites.
The percentage drop below refers to the loss in visibility and can in all probability be attributed to Panda 4.1.
Filtering by the greatest percentage loss we can see that games, lyrics portals, and sites with little information were the biggest losers. Sites dealing with medical issues which often tend to repeat what a lot of other sites have already said also seem to be affected.
I can also imagine recipe sites losing out in the game.
Content aggregators or modern link farms too aren’t performing all that well with this update.
Hmtweb confirms in their blog post that middleman sites or Amazon/Clickbank affiliate sites seem to have been crushed with this update. With the primary purpose of such sites being able to drive traffic to Amazon or Clickbank and landing pages containing only little content and ridden with affiliate links, they were supposed to be wiped out much earlier.
That said, niche sites with good quality content and in-depth detailed posts still rank as per my research and findings.
Remedial Steps to Take after Being Affected By Google Panda 4.1
If your rankings have increased ever since the release of Google Panda 4.1, then congratulations, the update has been functioning in your favor; but if you have noticed a drop in your search visibility or organic visits, you could probably be a victim of Panda 4.1 and it may take you some time to recover fully. Below are some remedial steps to help you recover from the effects of this updates.
1. Review & Renew Your Content Strategy
Do this by auditing your current site’s existing content. Examine some of your competitors, especially those that are presently ranking higher than you ever since the release of this update. Try to determine the similarities and differences between your content strategy and theirs. Instead of mimicking their content strategies, make an effort to learn from them and incorporate some of their new ideas into your own campaign. Some of the important questions that you should ask yourself while reviewing your content strategy include:
- How often do you update your blog?
- What type of content appears to most useful?
- How deep does your content get? And so on.
2. Ensure That Your Website Has Enough Content
Normally, pages that have little to no content are considered to be of very little help to the users that are seeking for something. That content has to contain some actual text within. The bots that are used by Google to crawl and index websites usually find it hard to navigate websites that are overloaded with videos and pictures. This can be attributed to the fact that bots rely on textual descriptions to make sense of a page and can’t understand videos. Definitely, you can have media of that kind on your page; however, it shouldn’t be the only source of information you can provide. If you have several pages that don’t present value to users, your entire website will be marked as low quality by Panda 4.1.
3. Remove Any Duplicate Content from Your Site
Basic syndication and plagiarism have already been dealt with by the earlier updates; however, Google Panda 4.1 is more advanced. If some of your content sources are straightforward re-wordings of other articles, reliant on outside sources, or quote based; get rid of it and focus on creating original and unique content.
4. Write meaty, long-form posts
Research indicates that the longer the piece of content the more social shares it garners. Also, these content focused updates from Google seem to favor sites which regularly post fresh, 1000 to 2000 word long posts. It isn’t possible to just base an entire 2000 word article on one keyword alone. That is the reason you need to bring in long tail keywords in your writing and weave your story around these keywords.
5. Last But Not Least, Remove All Poor Quality Content
Simply adding content to your webpage isn’t enough, even if it’s original. Make sure that everything that is published on your site is of some value. Your website must contain information that is engaging and relevant to what the users are searching for.
With all the recent updates, Google seems to be tightening its noose around the web. I am not a fan of Google and neither is Google yours. Take it to heart that Google doesn’t owe you anything, including your business. A strategy that purely thrives on Google sending you traffic is no good strategy at all on any given day.
As the days go by you should spend your time and resources on driving traffic from non-Google sources like social media, referral sites and so on.
Treat your blog as a business and do everything so that it survives all future animals unleashed by Google.