Panda 4.0 punishes websites with little original content


By Chris Lee

Google’s Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, recently announced the fourth generation of the search engine’s Panda algorithm. Panda was launched initially in the US and later worldwide during 2011, and had an instant impact on the visibility of sites with weak content.

Martin Boonham of Clickthrough Marketing explains: “Panda was launched by Google back in February 2011 in order to tackle websites with poor content. The idea being users really want fresh unique content and therefore websites copying content from elsewhere on the Net in order to rank better should be punished in favour of the sites promoting original content.”

Cutts announced the update on 20 May via a single tweet which read: “Google is rolling out our Panda 4.0 update starting today.”

The update aims to push pages with poor content and spam from the search results, explained Marcus Tober, founder of Searchmetrics. are projecting that it will impact 7.5 per cent of (English) search queries. Other languages may well be affected in differing proportions,” he added.

Aggregators hard hit

Aggregator sites – those with content from mainly external sources – appear to have been particularly hard hit, losing search ranking. These include coupons, news, software and price comparison websites. Some weather portals and forums are also on the list, according to Searchmetrics. eBay, and were among the big losers, Tober reported.

Some aggregators have seen their visibility improve, however, including local and health sector sites.

Searchmetrics’ findings into Panda’s initial impact raised some alarm bells back in 2011 and forced many organisations to re-evaluate their content strategies.

Tober said that some sites that should be potentially on the Panda loser list have actually shown positive development recently. This could be down to “learning from mistakes” – their own and/or those made by others – as some of these candidates have generated their own content.

“The losers on the other hand, tend to show syndicated content or even duplicate content,” Tober argued. “But this doesn’t mean that this is the end of the update. Google proved in the past that they are able to perform improvements or rollbacks really fast. So we will see what will happen over the next weeks.”

Tober added that the Panda update may not yet be fully rolled out, so we should expect changes.

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