Panda 2.2, 2.3, And 2.4: Enhancing The Update For A Better Web

2011 saw significant enhancements for the Panda update. The 2.2 version rolled out on June 21, 2011, and improved scraper detection. 2.3 came a month after on July 23 which incorporated new signals to better differentiate between low-and high-quality sites. In August, Google launched Panda 2.4 internationally and included non-English queries for the filter except for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean searches.

What’s It For

Panda 2.2 improved scraper detection which devalued websites that scrape and re-publish content. These sites often outrank the original content makers and this version aimed to help solve the issue. The changes also included recompilations of data to tag domains that should be penalized for violating the search engine’s quality guidelines.

Panda 2.3 rolled out slight enhancements to the update with it being part of approximately 500 changes that the developers plan on integrating into the ranking algorithms. A Google spokesperson noted that the tweaks they’re making in the Panda filter are part of the search engine’s commitment to providing high-quality websites to users.

Google launched Panda 2.4 to implement algorithmic search enhancements in different languages. The changes were initiated for all languages except for queries in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. At the time of the rollout, the team was still testing the filter for these languages.

What Were Its Effects

With a whopping 12 percent of queries affected by the first Panda update back in February, several webmasters struggled to break out of the rut and regain their lost positions in SERPs. Panda 2.2 was the recovery stage for some website while the filter hit others for the first time. This led to varied responses in the community.

To clarify, Panda is a filter that was designed to detect what it perceives as low-quality pages. A website that has several low-quality pages doesn’t mean that it will be de-indexed, but it does mean that those may be penalized to make sure that only the best posts reach the top spots in the SERPs.

Meanwhile, Google announced that the changes brought about by Panda 2.4 affected about six to nine percent of queries which is noticeable enough for most users. Nonetheless, it’s still much lower than when the first update rolled out.

What It Means for You

Think of Panda as a value or score that’s assigned to your website based on several signals or ranking factors. The evolution of the update along with other algorithmic changes has led to the search engine becoming increasingly effective in detecting subpar sites. So, when your website loses its top spot in SERPs, it’s typically caused by the accumulation of factors rather than just one update.

If a few of your pages are underperforming, you may need to check if you’ve unintentionally spammed Google’s index. Here are some things that you shouldn’t do on your website:

  • Shallow Content Google’s focus has always been to provide users with the most relevant results. It implies that websites must offer valuable information to their readers to gain that coveted first-page position in the SERPs. Panda imposes a domain-level penalty for sites whose content lacks substance.
  • Cloaking Cloaking is a sophisticated way of doing bait-and-switch to both search engines and human users. The practice pertains to showing a version of a page to bots and an entirely different one to searchers. It’s such a manipulative tactic and highly discouraged; that’s why it entails a massive penalty.
  • Keyword Stuffing This old spam tactic involves repeating the exact phrase in your blog post over and over again in the hopes of gaming the system to rank high for that particular set of keywords. However, Google already has measures in place to detect this technique and still devalues sites that practice it. The trick is to incorporate your key phrases in the most natural way possible so that human readers won’t notice it while allowing search bots to crawl through your pages.
  • Hidden Text A lot of times, devious content creators will conduct keyword stuffing and hide the text from human readers by having the font color blend in with the background or using the smallest font size possible. Nonetheless, it’s still an attempt to manipulate the search engine to get a high ranking.
  • Link Spam Link spam is another black hat tactic that involves using automated software to drop links on the comments section of forums and blogs with keyword-rich anchor text. Doing this is unfruitful since it’s ineffective and can get you a penalty.