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Google Panda

Google Panda first launched in February 2011 as part of Google’s quest to eliminate black hat SEO tactics and webspam. At the time, user complaints about the increasing influence of “content farms” had grown rampant.

Along came the Panda algorithm to assign pages a quality classification, used internally and modeled after human quality ratings, which was incorporated as a ranking factor. Fast forward to 2021, and you can now see how important it was as Google’s first step to focus on quality and user experience.

How does Google Panda work?

Google Panda penalties occur when websites manage to rank highly despite thin or poor content that does not serve the end user. We have seen penalties occur for:

  • Duplicate content
  • Pages that have a poor-content-to-ad ratio
  • Pages with excessively general information
  • Content that offers little information

When we analyzed the Google Panda update 4.1 that occurred in the fall of 2014, we found that the update even impacted a number of well-known sites, such as:

  • Independent.co.uk, likely for a poor content-to-ad ratio
  • Answers.com, likely for generic content
  • CheaperThanDirt.com, likely for thin, uninformative content

On the other hand, pages like NYTimes.com and OrganicGardening.com benefited from the update because they already focused on highly informative content with a low ad ratio.

How can I know if I’ve been hit by Panda?

One signal of a potential Panda penalization is a sudden drop in your website’s organic traffic or search engine rankings correlating with a known date of an algorithm update.

How do I recover from a Panda penalty?

  • Abandoning content farming practices
  • Overhauling website content for quality, usefulness, relevance, trustworthiness and authority
  • Revising the ad/content or affiliate/content ratio so that pages are not dominated by ads or affiliate links
  • Ensuring that the content of a given page is a relevant match to a user’s query
  • Removing or overhauling duplicate content
  • Careful vetting and editing of user-generated content and ensuring that it is original, error-free and useful to readers, where applicable
  • Using the Robots noindex,nofollow command to block the indexing of duplicate or near-duplicate internal website content or other problematic elements

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