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On September 25th 2014 Google announced that it was rolling out the latest update to its Panda algorithm, Panda 4.1. For seasoned SEO specialists Panda updates are as significant as the revolutionary war and well known as the location of your local Five Guys restaurant. If you are not as familiar with SEO as many of our readers are, here is a brief history of Google’s Panda update. On February 24th 2011 Google launched what is now known as Panda 1.0. The purpose of the update was to penalize websites that were posting duplicate or poor quality content on their websites.
It worked, Panda 1.0 tore through poor content like a ravenous Panda in a thicket of bamboo forever changing the SEO landscape. Websites that features poorly written content, duplicate content or content that was quickly re-spun from existing sources were profoundly affected. The aftermath looked like the deforested Amazon jungle 11.8% of searches were affected in the United States on English language websites. Panda was truly a landscape changing update.
Since then there have been twenty-six additional Panda updates focused on improving web content. I did a quick estimate on the confirmed and estimated impact of all the Panda updates both in the U.S. and globally. The combined power of the Panda updates has affected approximately 48.3% of search queries in the last three and a half years.
So get out of the way Kung-Fu Panda! Google Panda is here to stay and is still hungry for high quality, relevant and up-to-date content and is on the hunt again. Google is telling us this update will affect 3% to 5% of searches. Apparently at this point the update has been fully implemented. What we are seeing is a drop in rankings for larger sites that have not updated their content in a long time or that have content that is fairly common for their industry. The Huffington Post has an interesting article about some of the most heavily impacted sites. Apparently websites in the medical industry that re-post medical documentation from manufacturers have been heavily hit. Also, websites like ehow.com have been negatively impacted. I also know of a popular Search Engine Optimization blog that was heavily impacted by this update.
It appears that Google is going after content that has not been updated in a long time that may no longer be relevant. There is speculation that some of these sites may be posting content that is too focused on advertising products as opposed to providing valuable information. Also, websites that promote content from writers that are not considered industry experts are apparently suffering a decline in rankings. Google doesn’t want to see articles that are essentially advertisements or websites that are posting such articles ranking highly on their search engines.
It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out in the coming weeks as we gather more data on the impact of Panda 4.1. Google never shares exactly what they are doing and it takes time to disseminate the post update impact and narrow down speculation as to exactly what just happened. However, Google has provided a good general outline of what they are looking for when it comes to the quality of the content they would like to see on your website.
One thing is certain, your content is and will continue to be the most important feature of your website in regard to your Search Engine Optimization. So keep a close eye on the content you are posting on your site because if history is any indicator another hungry Google Panda update will be coming soon to a website near you.
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