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Panda 4 Update and Google's Confusing Algorithms

Panda Update
Panda Update
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Google announced a new update to its Panda algorithm, Panda 4.0 on May 20. This is an SEO change which affects many sites, it can cause them to rank higher or lower in search results. But what does this really mean?

This is all quite confusing. Let’s step back a bit here and explain the Google algorithm history. Google says its overall search strategy goal is for web sites to produce high-quality and relevant information for a better user experience. Google creates a “Quality Rating” for sites. They also want to sort out special tricks used to improve SEO or bad/trick methods (such as spamming, copying or scraping info from other web sites and more).

Webmaster guidelines are explained simply at Google.

The Google algorithms are Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, each one focusing on a different facet of search. For each algorithm, there are separate updates. Simply put, Penguin gives guidelines on link building, Panda gives guidelines on combating spam, and Hummingbird focuses on building meaningful conversation content and opens the door to promoting more social connections to expand cross-connections via social media networks.

Back to Google Panda; this is a filter that prevents low quality sites and/or pages from ranking well in the search engine results page (or SERP, the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query. The filter's threshold is influence by Google Quality Raters. Quality Raters are actual people (eyeballs) who answer questions such as "would I trust this site with my credit card?" so that Google can distinguish the difference between high and low quality sites.

So what does the Panda 4.0 update really mean? Based upon initial analysis, this update reinforces and tightens up the rules for quality scoring. Again if you useful quality (not thin or copied) content, you will show up better in Google search. Also, if you paid for an AdWords search and your quality score is lowered your ranked lower and you lose money.

For example with the 4.0 update eBay has a 33% drop in SEO visibility and fell 50%, per SearchMetrics

It seems like Google’s goal is to try to make webmasters/professionals stop thinking about how they can trick or play games with Google and just concentrate on making a great site. It is also great that they play a watchdog role to weed out content cheaters. But we are all beholden to Google’s thinking and how to interpret it. In the end, it is really confusing.

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