Google is an exceptional search engine. You can enter in any search phrase you could imagine, and almost instantly find the most relevant results possible. On occasion, you might need to rephrase to search what you’re looking for, but that’s all it takes.
If you’ve ever wondered how Google is able to understand and interpret even vague searches and still provide not only relevant content but high-quality relevant content, the answer is their complex algorithms. Google has developed and implemented multiple algorithms throughout the years to help do everything from filter out spam to improve the relevance of search results.
Google Panda is one of those algorithms, and in this post, we’re going to take at how it works, what its purpose is, and how to ensure that your content works well with it.
What Is Google Panda?
Google Panda started out as a filter in Google’s search algorithm in 2011, and was then integrated officially into the main algorithm in 2016.
This specific algorithm was created in order to identify high quality content online and prioritize it in the search engines. The first stage of development was conducted by holding human panels and asking them what they found to be more or less trustworthy about certain sites and what they found to be valuable content.
It was built during a time when people were complaining about content farms, and people were figuring out “the bare minimum [they] could do that’s [wasn’t] spam.” In 2010, the Caffeine update had worked to index more content quickly, but as a result, searches were becoming less relevant as content farms flooded the internet with low quality content designed onto to get SEO hits.
When Panda was launched, Google representatives noted that it would affect around 11.8% of all queries and their current rankings. Everyone quickly realized that businesses using “white hat” content tactics and actually creating valuable content would be fine, while “the bare minimum” was going to see bare minimum rankings in the SERPs, too.
The Initial Google Panda Reception
Panda is still in place today, finding high-quality content and rewarding it with higher rankings.
Panda was initially frustrating for a lot of people working on content marketing and SEO at the time; many people who had invested in content farms (which had, unfortunately, been a legitimate strategy up until then) had the carpet ripped out from under them, and even if they didn’t it was difficult to figure out what counted as “high-quality content.”
Eventually, though, people have started coming around. It’s a more holistic way to look at SEO, and by creating quality, valuable content, they were not only getting better results in the SERPs but in relationship building, lead generation, and sales increases, too. While it was a shift, dropping the bag of quick tricks and instead focusing on the customer was a positive shift and it allows brands who really want to do great content marketing to stand out overtime.
How Google Panda Works
Panda works by assigning a “quality score” to each individual page on your website. More long-form, valuable content that addresses a searcher’s intent is rewarded.
Because Panda only affects specific pages instead of sites, there’s a lot of room for opportunity here. High domain sites will gain the edge if all else is equal, but if a high domain site has duplicate or crap content, a competitor’s more useful post will outrank theirs even if their domain authority is lower.
That being said, as a site becomes established as an authority on a topic in their content, they’ll see their odds increase, because they’re more trusted overall.
Here’s specifically what Panda will lower your rankings for: :
- Duplicate content, from yourself or other sites. People copy my posts directly all the time and paste them to their own sites, not realizing they’re losing all potential benefits here.
- Thin content that doesn’t contain enough resources, substantive text, or relevant text.
- Keyword stuffing
- High ad-to-content ratio
- Lower quality user-generated content, where a blog regularly publishes a lot of guest posts filled with irrelevant information or grammar errors
- Affiliate linking to poor/untrustworthy products or services
- Content that doesn’t address keywords that it claims to. If this post, for example, was about Google Panda but then I spent 99% of the post talking about Google Penguin, we’d be in trouble.
Again, note that while Panda doesn’t punish entire sites and instead only lowers the ranking of certain Pages, if you’re regularly publishing weak or black-hat content, the results will be the same.
Google Panda SEO Tips & Best Practices
Ready to rock Google Panda’s SEO and improve your rankings? Here are the specific ways you can do it:
- Use a site crawler. Site crawlers like SEMrush’s Site Audit tool will crawl your site and look for SEO errors, including duplicate content.
- If you want to redistribute content, do it correctly. Have a post so great that you want to share it on more platforms, or maybe just want to get more reach? You can absolutely syndicate posts on other sites, but it needs to be done right.
On Medium, for example, you don’t just want to copy and paste your post; you’ll want to use their specialized syndicate upload by importing a story so that you can reach their audience but not be penalized by the algorithms.
- If you have weak content, rewrite it. If you had a hard time getting started with content marketing and have hit your stride, don’t let all the hard work you did early on go to waste or drag you down. Go revamp those posts, expanding a three hundred word article into 1500 words, or by improving the quality overall and taking out the keyword stuffing.
- Provide value. A three hundred word post on Google Panda isn’t going to come close to think one in quality rankings. We’ve addressed multiple popular questions about Google Panda without keyword stuffing and elaborated in-depth. There is also actionable advice (hey, right here) in order to keep the post valuable. Make your posts as thorough and actionable as possible, providing specific steps for how they can get the results they want.
- Write what your audience wants to see. This will help you with the SEO, and it will help you make sure you’re getting results from the content it sends your way. As you write more of that content and it’s received well, you’ll be seen as a more trusted and expert authority, and you’ll see your rankings go up overtime, too.
Google Panda may be one of the best gifts true content marketers were ever given. Businesses who actually want to establish relationships with their customers through content– which should always be a primary goal– are now able to do that more easily without being drowned out by content farms and weak content. Users, meanwhile, are able to find the content they’re looking for more quickly.
Looking for a little more help getting your content up to Google Panda’s standards? We can help. Get in touch and learn more about how we can help you with your SEO.
What do you think? How did you feel about the Google Panda update when it rolled out? Do you agree that it’s a more holistic way to approach SEO? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!