Google Panda as a Filter for Quality
The Panda update to Google’s search algorithm assumes the task of a filter. Based on specific quality criteria, websites in the Google index are penalized if they only provide the user with minimal added value. They slide lower down the ranking. On the other hand, sites that have an extensive offering of high-quality editorial content receive higher placement. To do this, Panda analyzes the entire presence of a domain and not just the individual subpages. The developer’s request was and still is that Google Panda assesses an internet presence as much as possible like a regular user, who clicks through each subpage. Upon considering the posted content it receives an overall impression and comes to a decision whether the site offers much useful current information or if it’s less helpful for the user’s objective.
Significant Effect on Ranking
As usual, Google provided only a very limited glimpse into the operating principle of its algorithm when Panda was introduced. For this reason it’s not possible to determine precisely which and to what extent criteria are included in the assessment. Empirical studies however have shown that a significant effect on search query rankings originated from the Panda update. Numerous prominent commercial websites were also negatively impacted, when they lost significant ranking due to their rather inferior content, which is evident for example in the respective visibility indexes of the online service provider Sistrix. Among the penalized sites are, for example, content farms, directory pages or coupon portals.
The Big Question: What does Google Panda Like?
The most important question the operator of an ambitious internet presence can ask himself is: How does my site need to be constructed so that it receives a positive rating from Google Panda, or at least is not penalized? Google itself gave a hint about the answer to this question, saying people should spend less time thinking about how the Panda algorithm might work specifically. They should instead pay attention to content creation and make added value top priority for website users. Based on this hint, at least a few concrete principles to follow can be deduced, so that posted texts or dossiers will be evaluated positively by the Panda filter. These include:
- extensive, thorough and factual research
- usage of current data and insights
- phrasing that is fluid and easy for the reader to understand
- employment of keywords through natural language use
- avoiding repetition, duplicates and especially plagiarism
- conservative use of low-order fillers like ads or gimmicks
Technical Criteria also of Relevance
However, the editorial aspect – in other words the rewarding of an appealing text with added value – is not the only point addressed by the Panda update. As already mentioned, Google focuses on analyzing the quality of a website as a whole. The following technical factors can therefore also have an important impact on the Panda filter:
- assessments and criticisms of the content of other high-quality websites
- links, likes and shares of the page in social media or blogs
- directly provided ratings by users about site utilization
- website having been established long-term with constant visitor traffic
- findability of contact details and useful service information
- identification of the validity of the content by providing the creation date
- providing extensive confidence-inspiring additional information, like responsible persons or the purpose of the internet presence
In addition, attention should be paid to a well-structured programming of the website. This includes ensuring that no duplicate content is produced, outdated or even empty subpages are no longer online, that off topic content is avoided, and that the entire site loads quickly and completely
Google Panda Now Completely Integrated
Google Panda was installed into the Google search algorithm for the first time ever on February 23, 2011, affecting only the USA at first and impacted about 12% of search queries. Over the course of that year, usage was expanded into most other countries. Since 2011 there have been continuous smaller adjustments made, which were called “data refresh,” because with each one only the data base with which the algorithm is fed was changed. The Panda algorithm itself, as far as is known, was comprehensively modified for the first time in 2014. This advancement is known as the Panda Update 4.0 and at that time affected about 7.5% of all (English language) search queries. Since then Google has switched to integrating the Panda module into its general update process for the core search engine. The separate reporting on Panda was discontinued.