The world of search engine optimization (SEO) was a pretty wild world. Most SEO pros knew how to play Google’s algorithm, and many were happy to use slightly sneaky or “black hat” techniques to do so.
All of this black hat activity has given Google a major problem. Entire websites have been set up to take advantage of the well-known deficiencies in its search algorithm. These websites, known as content farms, have produced relatively low-quality content for the sole purpose of appearing at the top of Google’s rankings for popular terms and selling advertising on those pages.
What is Google Panda?
Google’s reaction to this problem has been to make one of the biggest changes to its algorithm in years. This change was called Google Panda. Despite the cute name, it would cause huge problems for webmasters and SEO professionals who have made use of these techniques.
The change was particularly aimed at content farms – websites that produce dozens of low-quality articles with the sole aim of dominating Google search results and selling banner ads on the back of it.
As a first step, Google rolled out monthly panda ranking updates. This means that once a month there was a major upheaval in Google’s search results and many sites would find their search positions dropped significantly. Many sites immediately experienced a Google Panda penalty and took a huge hit in their rankings. The update caused enormous damage to companies such as Demand Media, which had built their entire business model on content farms.
Google Panda updates these days are done quietly and behind the scenes as part of a regular Google update, so there’s no longer the dramatic upheaval that there once was. Nonetheless, the Panda algorithm continues to operate quietly, ensuring that low-quality content farms cannot dominate Google’s search results. Google continues to make silent changes behind the scenes to make sure its algorithms are hard to fiddle with.
What is the Google search algorithm?
The Google Search Algorithm is the means by which Google decides in which order to display search results to you. Google has computer programs known as Google Bot that crawl the web and send data back to the algorithm. The algorithm then decides the quality of the pages and search terms (if any) for which they should rank.
What is the difference between Panda and Penguin?
Shortly after the Google Panda algorithm was rolled out, Google introduced another cute animal name update. Google Penguin was specifically aimed at certain black hat techniques that unscrupulous SEO professionals had used to improve site rankings. In particular, it was designed to stop the use of an SEO tool that has created hundreds of low-quality links to websites. This improved the ranking of relatively low-quality sites and meant that most SEO experts became obsessed with securing links on other sites – often at the expense of the content on their website.
Like Panda, Google Penguin was originally a separate update that refreshed about once a month. At the end of 2016, Google announced Google Penguin 4.0. Penguin is thus integrated into Google’s main search algorithm, which means that updates are now done all the time in the background. The results won’t change dramatically from day to day, but the results are constantly being watched for low-quality link profiles. A Google update happens several times a day and sites are constantly moving up and down the rankings.
How to recover from Google Panda
If you have been affected by a Google Panda update, you may have a serious issue that requires a panda recovery strategy. Traffic levels to your website could drop dramatically and you could suffer significant losses.
The first step in recovering from a Google Panda penalty is to perform a full website scan to determine why your ranking has dropped. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to help you recover from a Panda penalty. The answer is to revise your website and improve the quality of the content. This means that you need to make sure that you offer in-depth and useful content that your users may want to read. Avoid thin content that uses keywords over and over again. It used to be one way to improve your website ranking, but it’s no longer effective.
How to improve your Google ranking?
For years, Google has said that the best way to improve your Google rankings is to write high-quality content that visitors find useful. It was a laudable goal, but it was not true. There were a lot of ways to play with Google’s search algorithm and Google and SEO professionals knew them.
That’s why Google has introduced updates like Google Panda and Penguin. They filled in the gaps that had been exploited and forced webmasters to focus on improving the quality of their content to improve their rankings.
The very basic SEO strategies of Google’s early days remain relevant. You want to write good quality content and make sure you have a good selection of high-quality links from respected websites. The big change was the end of SEO techniques of the late 00s. Namely, extreme amounts of links and writing of thin, keyword-stuffed content. Google has also put more emphasis on the technical quality of websites. In particular, it is important that your website performs well on mobile devices, even if you are only concerned with your desktop performance.
Google Panda has been a major change in the way Google works and the company almost certainly has more in the pipeline. Focus on high-quality content and getting organic links to your site and you have a good chance of getting good results.
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