By now most webmasters and business owners have become familiar with Panda. Google recently announced that they would be rolling out the latest addition to the search engine update, dubbed “Panda 4.1”. Panda 4.1 intentions are to introduce new metrics directly targeting “thin content” or low quality websites and prevent them from ranking well in the search results. Nothing new in itself, but another message for webmasters to focus on good quality content.
The biggest losers seem to be sites such as: content portals, PR distribution sites, affiliate sites and so on, sites with a lack of unique content. The update also poses as an opportunity for websites who had lost rankings in the past to make their way up the SERPS again.
The announcement praised user feedback to allow Google to more “precisely” target low quality sites:
Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.
Panda 4.1 to impact 3%-5% of search queries
According to a statement from Google, webmasters can expect Panda 4.1 to impact in the region of 3-5% of global search queries, enough to be concerned about. It is not yet clear of the exact details to Panda 4.1. It appears that the biggest winners will be small and medium sized businesses with good quality content. Undoubtedly this is something which will be well received by many who have found it near impossible to compete with the big brand sites in the past.
Panda 4.0 was quite an overhaul of the work Google had already put into improving the quality of their search results. Panda 4.1 is simply a continuation of that work. If you’ve noticed a recent drop or gain in your website traffic from Google search, then Panda 4.1 is likely the answer. If you have not noticed any change in traffic or ranking, then you’re part of the 95% who are unaffected. You may still choose to revise your content and make improvements. If you have noticed a drop in traffic, then you will to have revise your content strategy. If you’ve gone up in the serps and getting more traffic, good work!
How to respond to Panda 4.1
If you have been hit by the latest search engine update here are some things you can do:
- Don’t neglect user experience. Try to relate to how your visitors are experiencing your site.
- Merge or remove pages with low quality or “thin” content – Low quality pages can drag down the rankings of your entire website.
- Keep your content up to date & relevant – It is not enough to have unique and good quality content. Google wants to see up to date content that remains consistently relevant. One way that you can ensure this is by regularly creating consistent content for your website (ideally through a company blog).
- Reference your sources – Linking to trustworthy sources helps to give weight to your own trustworthiness.
- Create trust around your content using Google+ and other social networks.
If you have a good level of unique content then you’re on the right track. Think about ways that you can enhance the user experience, not just through content but through the website experience as a whole. Google puts a lot of weight into user experience when ranking websites, for example: Do site visitors “bounce” when they visit the site?Do they leave without clicking to any other pages on the website?How much time do they spend on the site etc..?
Have you been hit by Panda 4.1, or have you made gains from it? I’d like to know. Send me an email and or make a comment and let me know your experience.