Panda 3.1 was a data refresh that affected a small portion of queries. Since the filter runs separately from the core algorithm, this update indexed new pages while evaluating and ensuring that each content provides relevant, valuable, and unique information to users.
Panda 3.1 continued to improve on the algorithm for the search engine to display more high-quality sites. Google reportedly added quality signals involving duplicate content, usability, and engagement which enhanced content marketing for websites.
It aligns with their overarching goal to provide the most relevant answers to users. Panda was explicitly created to devalue websites with low-quality content while rewarding authority sites that put a lot of thought and research into the subject matter they’re blogging about.
For Panda 3.1, Matt Cutts announced that the data refresh would affect less than one percent of searches. With the lack of outcries from the webmaster community, it did seem as if this update had inconsequential effects on the rankings unlike Panda 2.5 which was also deemed as minor by Google but led to massive changes in the SERPs. Some websites suffered from significant drops in traffic while others were able to obtain the top spots in the results pages.
The search engine has always encouraged site operators to make sure that each page on their website has unique content and without duplicates anywhere else. Google defined duplicate content as a considerable amount of text, whether internal or external, that match or are closely similar to another.
They clarified that they don’t automatically penalize websites that unknowingly have duplicate content unless those domains were found guilty of intentionally deceiving and manipulating rankings through this practice. A majority of site owners, especially those in e-commerce, worry about having multiple internal links directing users to the same content.
An example is when customers search for an item using the same keywords with slight variations such as “www.sitesample.com/boots.asp?color=black&brand=example” and “www.sitesample.com/boots.asp?brand=example&color=black” with both URLs pointing to the same product page.
Google admitted that this kind of duplicate content could have negative repercussions for your website’s rankings, but it doesn’t result in penalties per se. It’s possible that your page and your website, overall, may be devalued due to how the search engine works.
These are the adverse effects when search bots crawl through different URLs but end up with identical content:
Multiple links pointing to a single piece of content can be easily addressed through URL canonicalization. The Big Daddy update last December 2005 provided webmasters with a way to inform Google what link they want to be displayed on the SERPs through the rel=”canonical” HTML tag or 301 redirects.
Here are a few tips from Google on how to reduce duplicate content issues for your website: