Google Panda Update is a filter added to Google’s search algorithm to demote low quality content websites and reward high quality content sites. In addition, the other objective behind this update was to remove sites from top search results that used to produce a lot of SEO and keyword optimized pages of no actual value. As a result, even a large and reputed site like Ezine article (and hundreds others like this) lost a significant number of pages from top 10 results.
History of Google Panda Update
Google Panda was first released in February 2011; since then, the search engine has periodically updated it many times. With every update, it became better at identifying different types of low value and spam content. Now Google has merged Panda into its core algorithm. Therefore, it is now a bit more difficult to identify Panda penalty on a website. Beforehand, it was easier for website owners to know when they got hit or recovered from Panda algorithm update. Regular content auditing is most probably the best way to mitigate the negative impact of Panda.
List of 10 most noteworthy Panda Algorithm Updates
Panda (Original) — February 23, 2011
Panda 2.0 — April 11, 2011
Panda 2.4 — August 12, 2011
Panda 3.4 — March 23, 2012
Panda 3.7 — June 25, 2012
Panda 3.9 — July 24, 2012
Panda Dance — June 11, 2013
Panda 4.0 — May 19, 2014
Panda 4.1 — September 23, 2014
Panda 4.2 — July 17, 2015
In total, there have been around 28 updates, some effected large number of search queries while other had lesser impact. You can check dates of all the Google Panda Updates on Moz.
What Triggers Panda
Thin Content: Pages that don’t have enough relevant content and resources about a topic.
Low-Quality Content: Pages that offer absolutely no or little value to a visitor and created only for search engines bots.
Content farms: A site that contains a significant number of poor-quality pages. Here a website generally hires a large numbers of cheap content writers to write short and keyword rich articles, with the sole purpose to attain high rankings for a vast variety of keywords. Article directories and blog networks are the prime example of such sites.
High ratio of ads-to-content: Pages filled with a lot of paid advertisement rather than unique and useful content. The primary objective of such sites is to make more money instead of offering something valuable to the reader.
Affiliate links: High number of affiliate links on low quality page for the purpose to generate referral income.
Difference in content and search query – When content of a page doesn’t match the intent of user’s search query.
Low-quality user-generated content (UGC) – A large number of low quality guest posts (with full of grammatical mistakes) can certainly attract Google panda penalty.
Low Quality Comments: A site that contains a huge number of low quality comments that don’t add any value can invite panda. Never approve comments with keyword in anchor text and copy-pasted content that already exist on thousands of places.
4 Myths about Google Panda
(1) A page should have certain number of words to become Panda-proof
There is no minimum word-count set by Google to remain unaffected by Panda. On my instances, I have seen a 300-400 words well written and resourceful article outranking a 1000 words extremely poor quality article. There’s is no harm in setting up certain standards for the number of words–but focus on quality rather than number of words. And it can be very dangerous to remove certain pages from a website just because they have low word-count.
(2) Duplicate content causes Panda penalty
Duplicate content has nothing to do with Google Panda update. It’s just a filter that shows negative effect only if a site has large amount of duplicate and copied content and very less original and valuable content. Duplicate content and Panda are two separate issues–Google’s John mu has clarified that.
(3) Once a website hit by Panda, none of its page can rank
It’s not true. High quality pages from a site will continue to rank in Google unless the number of low quality pages is far higher than the good ones.
(4) Finally, technical aspects of a website such as site loading speed and 404 error pages are also not part of Panda algorithm update.