Google Panda Update

Google Panda is a filter aimed at de-valuing poor quality websites so searchers receive more quality websites when using the Google search engine. Google Panda is still fairly new and not many people in the non-SEO world know about it; so we’ll explain it in lay man’s terms. Google Panda is part of the over 200 algorithms Google has in place to help filter, sift, sort, or  however you want to describe it, through lower quality websites and tends to rank lower quality sites lower, allowing higher quality sites to rank higher.

Search quality is something Google works on constantly, so they can ensure relevant quality results come up in a search query. By creating filters, such as Panda poor quality sites will end up ranking lower. Google’s Matt Cutts said, “It’s an algorithmic change, it came from the search quality team, it didn’t come from the web spam team,” he also reiterated “This is not a penalty”.

We live in the Information Age, thus in today’s society people are extremely internet savvy and skilled at finding ways to trick or beat the system. To do this these individuals use several methods including using sites known as content farms. Content farms are websites that have mass amounts of articles for other websites to link to, on subjects that the site wants to rank for. Some websites even have pages within their own websites stuffed with keyword rich content because the theory is that more content equal’s better ranking.

While more content can lead to better results, Google Panda may see this as untrustworthy and irrelevant. If you have a blog and it’s on your website, making sure posts are unique with no duplicate content. No one knows Google’s  exact secret formula for determining if content is relevant or not, but its most likely a mix of keywords identified by the crawlers and length of time users stay on your webpage after typing in a specific search query;  it’s reasonable to think if a user types in “Best hair Salon, Las Vegas”  and clicks a link that appears to be a match, and  is taken to a page that comes up as “Blow Out Electronics Sale”  that the user will automatically leave, this is called a bounce.

Bounce rates are not the only factor Google and other search engines use to determine the relevancy of your site, and it’s not even the most important, but we think it deserves an honorable mention because it is a sign to search engines, i.e. Google Panda, that the site shouldn’t be ranked for that key phrase. How can a search engine even tell if a site has a lot of bouncing? One way search engines recognize your site has bounces is known as Pogo sticking. Pogo sticking is when a user types in a search term, clicks on a link, then goes back to the search engine and clicks on another link. Search engines can tell a user left and came back, so they decide they didn’t present a quality result, because they believe if it was the user would stay engaged on the page and not jump back to the search and click on another result in the query, so the more it happens the more likely you will de-rank for that specific term.  This however is not a penalty; it’s just the search engine’s way of determining what sites are more relevant to a keyword.

To reduce bounce rate Google’s Matt Cutts recommends,  adding related links or related post to help users have some place else to go from within your site. He also assures us that, for Google, bounce rate metrics are not as sensitive as other metrics because there are sites that are just efficient at delivering the information a user is looking for, which can potentially lead to the appearance of a high bounce rates, but this doesn’t mean they don’t use this information at all.

Google Panda was refreshed on March 23, and dubbed by the SEO community as Panda 3.4, but if you didn’t notice any changes to your site, great, you probably won’t, this “refresh” did not include any algorithmic changes, but it was Google running the algorithm again manually, so any sites that should have been hit the first time, may be affected this time around, and if a site was wrongfully  hit , the penalty will be removed, other than that your site should be safe.