Content Marketing Blog

Panda 4.0: Winners, losers and why

Now that the dust has settled after the rollout of Panda 4.0, marketing software provider Searchmetrics has come out with an analysis on the winners and losers from this year’s biggest Google update.

Each website below is closely monitored by Searchmetrics, which compared current data to data before Panda 4.0 was launched. Actual traffic may differ slightly, but the percentages should be relatively accurate.

What is interesting to see is that this update didn’t just penalise websites for poor content, it rewarded websites with high quality content.


The Panda 4.0 Winners +500% +500% +500% +250% +100% +50% +50% +25%

The Panda 4.0 Losers -75% -75% -50% -33% -33% -20%


One of the notable losers from the Panda 4.0 update was the Android application store, AppBrain, which lost 33% of its organic traffic. The conspiracy theorists will be all over this, as AppBrain is a direct competitor of Google’s own Play Store.

The AppBrain site does lack content, which Google would likely use to explain this loss in traffic, but then couldn’t the same be said about the Google Play Store?

What we can learn from these metrics

Regular, high quality content is king. While I might sound like a broken record, these results further back up the correlation behind quality content and higher search rankings.

By looking at each of the websites listed above, you can see a clear difference between the range, volume and depth of content available. Many of the losers regularly post syndicated or even duplicate content and there often is often a lack of content likely to genuinely benefit the user.

A common question about this data will be ‘what about user experience?’, especially when you look at an example like Yellow Pages, which has lost traffic. While the Yellow Pages site does provide contact details (which is what the user is after), it doesn’t provide much else. Business websites will also provide their contact details plus more information which will assist the user. I believe eBay has been hit for a similar reason (lack of added value on its product pages).

Google is becoming more and more focused on returning pages that users haven’t seen before and will enjoy looking at. It wants its results to provide genuinely useful and valuable information about the topic at hand. The sites that invest early in quality content will get ahead of the competition, as it’s quite obvious to  any Google watcher where search is going.

What about the Payday Loan 2.0 update?

The biggest development regarding the Payday Loan 2.0 update (which was also released around the same time Panda 4.0 but has had less coverage) is that some pages identified as ‘spammy’ have been completely removed from Google’s index.

While this seems like quite a dramatic course of action to take Google is confident that these pages serve absolutely no purpose to the user. This is another blow for sites trying to find a shortcut to good rankings. Gaming the system is a short-term play at best and will likely cost you dearly in long-run.

By Trent Paul

Content Marketing Survey May 2014

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