Matt Cutts has taken to Twitter to announce the release of Google Panda 4.0. There has been mounting speculation recently because some sites were starting to see fluctuations in their rankings.

Immediately after Matt Cutts announced the Pay Day Loan algorithm update, many thought their questions about these movements had been answered by a tweet about a new Pay Day Loan algorithm, only for Matt to deliver a sledgehammer of a tweet minutes later by declaring Panda 4.0 live.

What’s Panda again?

First released on February 11th 2011, Google Panda is an algorithm designed to target sites with poor quality content, preventing them from appearing on the search engine results pages.

‘Low quality content’ can include:

Scraped or duplicated content  
 Automatically generated content
 Plagiarised content
 Thin (without much substance) content
 Blatant Spam
 Pages with excessive advertising
 Content that is keyword-stuffed or over-optimised

What can we expect from Panda 4.0?

As this is a full update, not a refresh, we can possibly expect a different approach form the Panda. It will surely retain the core principles of the Panda algorithm, but it may well take a different approach. This may be the rumoured ‘softening’ of the algorithm towards small businesses that was much talked about earlier this year.

  • Maybe this update will only target one page at a time, instead of being site-wide as it always has been. The Penguin algorithm did just this on release of 2.0. This would allow businesses to rectify a ‘one-off’ problem and not suffer such major upheaval because of one mistake.
  • Maybe the criteria by which it is triggered has changed. There may now be more leniency towards poor content before the algorithm takes action.

On Being Panda-proof

Though many sites and marketers fear the Panda, it is actually a positive if you’re sitting on the right side of the fence.  If you’re producing original and informative content on your site, you should have nothing to worry about, and should look forward to low quality spammy pages appearing much further down the results pages than your own. That being said, it’s good to remind ourselves from time to time what constitutes as ‘high quality’ content:

Content that is made primarily for users, not search engines
Unique, informative and engaging
Highly relevant to your site
Is written with spelling, grammar and legibility in mind
HTML tags also, such as H1 and page title, contain no duplicate content
Ensure your pages are correctly structured, making sure you use correct headings and sub-heading, bullet points, and images to illustrate if needed. The visual appearance of your page is a great indicator as to its quality.

Above all it must be your best work, each and every time.  Even if you haven’t been affected by this Panda or any other Panda, it’s still a great idea to run over your content strategy and ensure it adheres fully to best-practice.

If you need more information on how this could affect your rankings, or advice on how to make the most of this update to improve them, please contact the Media Bootcamp at sonja@mediabootcamp.org

 

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