Google Panda is the change in Google’s algorithm that was released in February 2011.
The update aimed at penalizing websites using ‘content farming’ or thin content to meet the search engine optimization goals. The aim was to keep the factual relevance of the search engine intact. The websites generating high-quality content were rewarded with top rankings and sites indulging in content farming were degraded.
It was one of the major updates to create some serious shuffling in the SERPs. The update was initially known as the ‘farmer update’ among the marketer community until it was discovered that Google had named it Panda.
The technology that enabled Google to implement this algorithm change was developed by an engineer, Navneet Panda.
The update was named after him. Let us look at some more components of Google Panda Update.
Why Did Google Need To Introduce Google Panda?
With the advent of the Internet and its easy access, the businesses started to digitalize their operations. Consequently, they had to jump up in the SEPRs for better optimization.
In the absence of any check or deterrent, the sites started resorting to unethical SEO practices such as content farming, thin content and keyword stuffing. By 2010, the search results in reliability and quality started deteriorating resulting in worldwide debates.
The damage reached to an extent that Business Insider published an article with the headline ‘Google Search Algorithm has been Ruined, Time to Move Back to Curation’. In one of their other article, they had pointed out that the quantity of content was more important than its quality for jumping up in the search rankings. The apprehensions surrounding the degrading content resulted in Google’s response in the form of Google Panda.
What Triggers Google Panda?
The algorithm was introduced to address a number of issues such as:
1) Thin Content:-
When a website uses this technique, it generally creates multiple pages or duplicate pages describing content with very little relevance and substance.
Determining the bounce-rate of a website helps to decide whether the site is of much value to the user. If the user briskly bounces from the website, it means he could not find anything substantial except the realization that he got tricked by a website indulging in thin content.
2) Plagiarized Content:-
When a website publishes copied content either from the other websites or from the different page of its own, it is identified as the plagiarized content. Prior to Google Panda’s launch, it was a prevalent practice. Many websites were using copied content with little or no variation to inculcate a forced keyword frequency. For instance, a company manufacturing pipes in different cities can generate same content for its different pages and just substitute the name of the cities.
3) Low-Quality Pages:-
These are the pages generating content with no or little value for the readers. They may not have any content relating to the keywords used in the search bar or the Meta headline. With Panda algorithm, Google made sure that these pages are down-ranked and do not show up in the search results.
4) Content Farming:-
This was a rampant and effective practice that most websites used for manipulating the search engine rankings and bringing traffic.
Content farming generally requires a large number of content writers employed at low wages to create content which is low-quality with no relevance for the users.
The main purpose of the websites engaging in content farming is to score the rankings rather than providing the users with important information.
5) Lack of Trustworthiness:-
When the sources are not verified, they may invite the Panda hit. A site should be so trustworthy that the visitors feel comfortable sharing their credit card information.
6) Sub-Standard User Generated Content:-
The majority of the websites invite the users to contribute to the content as the guest posts. At times, these posts are sub-standard laced with grammatical and spelling errors with no relevance.
7) High Advertisement to Content Ratio:-
Pages having a high ad-to-content ratio are considered to be of low-quality in terms of usability and relevance. Such pages aim to generate revenue with the help of the ads rather than the content. The Panda aimed to down-rank such pages.
8) Blocked Websites:-
If a large number of users have blocked a website using the chrome extension then the site comes under the radar of Google’s algorithm.
9) Content Not Matching With the Keyword or Query:-
Pages that seem to be delivering the answers to customer’s queries but do not provide anything substantial when clicked on. For instance, a page about free coupons for an e-commerce website may have nothing relevant but only ads as a part of its content.
How To Know Your Site Has Endured A Panda Hit?
There are certain tools that can help you determine if your site has endured a Google Panda hit.
You need to register with Google Webmaster tools. It is a portal through which Google communicates with SEO community and inform them about the issues their site may have incurred.
This generally, includes manual penalties for which Google leaves a message and tells what is wrong with the website. To further gain an understanding let us understand the two kinds of penalties.
1) Manual Penalty:-
When a team at Google, generally a webspam team, imposes a penalty on the website, it is called a manual penalty. There are a number of reasons, either applicable to some of the web pages or either website, which can prompt a manual penalty.
In the case of a manual penalty, you will get a notification from Google along with a list of measures you can take to assuage the issue. In the case of a site being hit by Panda, the respective site will get a notification saying site has been removed from SERPs accredited duplicate or thin content.
The site manager can make the required changes and file a reconsideration request. Google will inform you if the penalty gets removed.
2) Algorithmic Penalty:-
It is a common type of penalty for which the website does not get notified. Also, there is no option of filling up the reconsideration request. There is no specific way in which you can know whether your website has endured an algorithmic penalty except the loss in organic traffic or drop in rankings.
In order to determine whether the website has endured an algorithm penalty, you need to login to Google and Analytics account and monitor the change in your organic traffic
Go to Google Analytics dashboard
Select your website
Select Acquisition→ All Traffic → Source → Medium→ Google Organic
A report on the number of visits you get on your website. You will need to go back all the way to 2011 when Google first released a major update.
If your website has experienced a drop in traffic post the release of any major update, it may be an algorithmic penalty. If you think Google Panda has affected your organic traffic then you need to revamp your content, making it more enriched and user-relevant.
What Happens In The Case Of Google Panda Penalty?
If your website gets hit by Google Panda, you are going lose the website traffic, more importantly; you will lose the trust of the world’s leading search engine.
The website, having violated SEO ethical code will be removed from Google’s index. Once the necessary changes are made, the site will be restored to the Index. This, however, does not mean that the original rankings will be reinstated.
The SEO community needs to play by Google’s rules the entire time. There is no escaping or cheat sheet that let you violate the guidelines without suffering adverse changes in SERPs.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Google Panda Penalty?
The manual penalties remain effective until the websites make the required changes and submit a request for reassessment. There is also an expiration date for the penalties which may vary from 6 months to 2 years.
In the case of a domain dealing with a Panda penalty, it needs to dedicate itself to on page optimization. After cleaning up your website of plagiarized or thin content in accordance with the Webmaster guidelines, you can expect the penalty to be lifted off.
How to recover from a Panda Penalty?
Google Panda is a difficult update to recover from. However, taking consideration that it is related to the quality of the content, a site needs to reinstate the content quality and adopt the given remedial measures Not indulging in content farming
Revamping the content in terms of relevance, originality, trustworthiness, and usability
Reassessing and managing a healthy ad-to-content ratio
Relevancy of content in terms of its match with user’s query
Removing duplicate content and replacing it with good quality relevant content
Assessing user-generated content such as guest posts and making sure it is relevant, error-free and original
In conclusion, there is no cheat code to escape from webmaster SEO quality guidelines. The SEO community needs to take into account each and every directive issued by Google and work ethically to propel in the search rankings.