What Panda 4.0 means for your website
Google’s Panda update is back on the search agenda more than 3 years after it was first unleashed on unsuspecting website owners.
Matt Cutts announced Panda 4.0 over Twitter last month, with this latest iteration affecting around 7.5% of all English language search queries. This is the largest Panda update since it hit close to 12% of searches back in 2011. When it comes to content creation, Panda updates are always the most directly relevant changes Google makes. Panda is about returning pages with better quality content. With these changes set to continue as Google finds new ways to identify and reward better quality sites, it’s important that website owners and marketers stay ahead of the game and make sure their content strategy remains fit for purpose. Here’s what you need to know:
- Because of the frequency of Panda updates (25 so far), Google doesn’t announce each one. Matt Cutts’ tweet shows that Panda 4.0 is significant;
- 7.5% of English search queries will see a significant change;
- Poor quality content is the primary target of this update;
- Websites built with user experience in mind will benefit;
- Website content which actually benefits a user will be favoured over content aimed at search engines.
It’s still early days, and the true effect of Panda 4.0 isn’t 100% clear. Many industry experts are closely monitoring rankings to detect any patterns and find any useful information.
The eBay example
Recently, eBay has been hit hard – losing almost 80% of all organic search rankings. Due to the timing of Panda 4.0, it is highly likely the auction site was hit by this algorithm update. eBay is guilty of poor quality content (and a very poor Adwords campaign). This has never been eBay’s priority, as their business model is focussed on facilitating the sale of products. When users search for a specific product, most of the time an eBay link would be readily available in the search results. While it’s helpful for users to find the product they are searching for, the pages often do not provide useful information about the product. All e-commerce sites should be altering their strategies now to avoid a situation similar to this happening to them.
Payday Loan 2.0
Another update released over the last week was the Payday Loan 2.0 update. This update takes aim at very spammy search terms such as ‘payday loans’ and most adult queries. The results for these terms are generally over-optimised sites filled with ads or affiliate links. Like all algorithm changes, the Payday Loan 2.0 update aims to deliver searchers the most relevant and highest quality results. These updates are further proof that Google wants to see websites which benefit the user. We know exactly where they are heading, so staying ahead of the game should be quite easy. It’s never too late to start adding quality content to your site, and showing Google that you deserve the higher rankings. By Trent Paul