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Google Panda is more Popular than Kung fu Panda

Panda 101

Google launched Panda 2.2 in late June of this year. The
update marks the fourth time the company has filtered sites through their new
ranking factor, each time with various tweaks and modifications based on the
results of the previous filter. Here are a few things you need to know about
the nature of Google’s Panda, as well as how to prevent the change from harming
your web presence.

Panda is a Negative
Ranking Factor

Panda 101

Google launched Panda 2.2 in late June of this year. The
update marks the fourth time the company has filtered sites through their new
ranking factor, each time with various tweaks and modifications based on the
results of the previous filter. Here are a few things you need to know about
the nature of Google’s Panda, as well as how to prevent the change from harming
your web presence.

Panda is a Negative
Ranking Factor

Panda is not designed to reward high-quality content, but
rather to punish lower-quality content. In theory, Panda should prevent low
quality sites, such as scraper sites or sites with lots of duplicate content,
from dominating the search rankings, even if they contain a lot of relative
keywords to the search. Other parts of Google’s algorithm focus on the
relevance of a search, but Panda is geared specifically towards the quality of
the content provided. If enough pages in a website have a sufficiently high
Panda ranking (high is bad in this case, because it is a negative factor) then
the entire website will be punished in the rankings, essentially being flagged
as a scraper site or other low-quality source.

So what constitutes lower-quality content? For starters,
duplicate content will have a huge impact on a website’s Panda ranking. This is
a specific effort on the part of Google to punish scraper site practices of
copying quality content for the purposes of black-hat SEO.

Other red flags which hurt a page’s Panda ranking include
the quality of the site’s content and the quality of the sites which are linked
to the page. That is, where you are getting your links from now has a chance of
hurting your website, if the site which linked to you is of poor quality. So
where before it was important for your own site to have quality content, it is
now also important that all the sites which link you also be reputable.

Additionally, the number of advertisements on your page can
now hurt your page rankings, as Panda includes advertisement density in its
calculations. If you have a page with high-quality content which nonetheless
makes heavy use of Google AdWords, Panda could still label it a low-quality
page. It is therefore important to balance advertisements and content on any
given page, and to make high-quality content the rule rather than the exception.

Avoiding the Panda
Slap

SEO circles already have a slang term for what happens when
Panda flags a site as lower quality based on its algorithms: “Panda slap.”
Specifically, this term refers to what happens when a number of different pages
on a website are deemed to be low-quality by the algorithm’s standards,
resulting in the entire website being punished. This can reduce traffic to a
site from Google by as much as 50%. So it is now more important than ever to
not just have some high-quality content for the user, but to be consistent in
the quality of your work. Too many low-quality articles can hurt your entire
web presence.

Google’s goal behind the Panda update is to add a slightly
more “human” factor to their web relevance algorithms, by incorporating such
aspects as readability of the content, site bounce rates, and how reputable the
site seems in general to affect a site’s relevance. For the most part, this has
been successful: Google reports approximately 85% overlap between what Panda
catches and what users block using Chrome’s search filter extension. The goal
of Panda is to ensure that websites are user-friendly rather than simply
web-crawler-friendly. Understanding this goes a long way in creating content
which plays nicely with the new setup.

Panda is not Always
On

This is a big misconception out there: Panda is not
something which is constantly being used by Google to assimilate search
rankings. It currently takes too much system resources to leave Panda perfectly
automated. Instead, Google incorporates Panda into their system once every few
weeks to get a “snapshot” of each site. It is rumored that Panda will reward
sites which show steady improvement from snapshot to snapshot (even if the
content isn’t immediately perfect), but this is not for certain. Therefore, if
a site is Panda Slapped, figuring out the problem with the site and correcting
it will not immediately fix the problem. Instead, it could take up to six weeks
before Google updates their results. This is important to know, as it means
that you will not know whether you found the problem in real time.

Why Did Google Do
This?

Google incorporated Panda into their algorithms
for one primary purpose: to prevent scraper sites from outranking the sites
from which they scraped, and to prevent unhelpful content from outranking
helpful content. This is the theoretical purpose of Panda. As such, it is now
more important than ever to write to a human audience and provide helpful,
original content rather than duplicate content or shallow content. Long story
short: Present yourself as an expert on your topic and Panda will be happy.
Then you can worry about making your site web-crawler friendly to satisfy the
other elements of Google’s algorithm.

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