Since the 2011 launch of Google’s Panda algorithm, there have been many changes to the way that it refines search results. SEO has changed over several updates since then. This week, Google has launched Panda 4.1, which is the newest and most significant of the 27 updates to date.
An overview of Panda
Panda 1.0 first made an appearance in February 2011 as one of the most significant algorithms Google has ever released. It made a difference to around 12% of search results, aiming to prioritise high-quality content through organic searches. It accounted for the regularity of new content being shared on those sites, and examined the featured keywords.
Updates 2.0 and 3.0 followed in April and October 2011, each affecting a further 2% of search results. Following a series of monthly updates, Panda 4.0 was launched in May 2014, further rewarding high-quality sites and filtering out low-quality sites. This had an impact on a huge 7.5% of results, and has now lead on to the latest update… Panda 4.1.
What are the changes for Panda 4.1?
The first week of October saw the gradual implementation of the Panda 4.1 update and although this update builds on the previous ones, it will affect around 3-5% of queries differently to how it did before. Google’s Pierre Far stated that it will allow for “high-quality small and medium-sized sites ranking higher” in organic search results. However, Google has added new ways to filter out low-quality content, meaning that if you don’t meet requirements, then you could see your SEO drop. Of course, Google has not made these signals public.
Predicting new SEO patterns
Although Google has not explicitly shared this new filtering criteria, we can already see trends beginning to occur. Sites coming out on top appear to be news sites, those which are content-based, and download portals. This is most likely due to the fact that these sites are frequently posting new, high-quality content. Sites which have seen a drop in SEO so far are some gaming sites, lyrics sites and even some medical content pages, which generally feature more repeated and less new content. Even renowned websites such as hallmark.com, office365.com and eHow have seen a drop in their SEO rankings.
2 ways to rank highly with the Panda 4.1 update
Have you seen a drop in visibility since the 4.1 update? Don’t worry! There are some ways that you can recover by making some changes to your site.
#1 Deliver regular high-quality posts
Complete a comprehensive content audit of your site, and compare it to your more highly ranking competitors. If you have a blog, post original ideas to it regularly, and take note of what the most useful information you are sharing is. Creating higher-quality content more often is a great way to increase your ranking following the new Panda update.
#2 Scrap old content
The worst affected sites seem to be those with a large amount of duplicate content. Not only does Panda now filter out plagiarism, but are now taking into account more complex cases, where content is simply being reworded at a basic level or sharing quotes. To ensure a higher ranking position, you should create your own, fresh content.
What lies ahead?
It is unlikely that we will see another update to the Panda algorithm until at least December, although there is no way to be certain of the exact changes that will be made. Gradually it seems as though Google is making steps towards promoting high-quality, original content that is well-written and helpful. To make sure that you are in a prime position for future updates, keep your visibility high by publishing your own content frequently.