Earlier this year the SEO world was abuzz with news that there might be another Google algorithm update rolling out. Search fluctuations are extremely common, as the search algorithm is almost constantly being fine tuned -- but this time it does indeed seem that there was a significant change. For one thing, it was confirmed that Google Panda has now been integrated into the Core Algorithm. These changes mean Google is becoming even more serious about quality content. Google is constantly working on additional algorithmic changes to help high-quality sites get more traffic from search.
So what is Panda and how does this affect your site’s search rankings?
What is Panda?
The Panda algorithm (named after Google engineer Navneet Panda) was first released in February 2011 and has been updated many times since then. Basically, it functions as a filter to help Google improve the quality of search results by down-ranking low quality content. This filter is applied to a pack of search results that Google considers relevant to a search query. Previously, the Panda score was re-ordering them, pushing down the low-scorers, and giving a boost to the highest scored content.
Now that these signals are incorporated into Google's core ranking algorithm, they no longer re-order the results, but instead are combined with other Google's ranking signals.
Quality is King
The Panda filter tackles the difficult task of algorithmically assessing website quality based on a number of factors. Technically it would be possible to influence those factors to increase your website score, but unfortunately Google won't disclose the exact quality factors it takes into account. So what can you do to increase your ranking? The good thing about this update is that is assures us that Google takes quality content very seriously and puts a premium on it. Smart companies that work hard to provide unique, frequently updated content through strategies like inbound marketing have nothing to worry about.
But What Exactly Do They Mean by High-Quality?
Google released a general guide to what it considers quality content. Some questions they suggest might influence your rankings are:
Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
Does the site have duplicate or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
These questions can help give insight into the ideas and research Google did when programming Panda to assess the quality of a page or post. They also suggest that low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s ranking. Removing those low quality pages or improving the content on those pages to transform them into more useful pages could help the rankings of your higher-quality content.
With Google continually raising its standards for their search results it becomes ever more obvious that content is something you need to optimize you site for. Don’t let these changes make you go crazy tho. Search is a complicated science, so rather than focusing on specific algorithmic changes, focus your efforts on providing the best possible user experience.