Panda 3.5 And 3.6: Dealing With The Parked Domain Bug
Google rolled out the Panda 3.5 update on April 19 and the 3.6 update on April 27. These were regular data refreshes that didn’t cause a significant shakeup in the SERPs. However, a bit of chaos did occur in the webmaster community when a data error caused some sites to be devalued after being mistaken as parked domains.
Google quietly rolled out Panda 3.5 and 3.6 which were regular updates that had minimal impact on rankings. Version 3.5 did appear to address the parked domain bug where several websites had massive losses in organic referrals because the search engine mistakenly tagged them as parked domains or additional sites hosted on your account that don’t provide quality content to visitors. All in all, the two Panda updates were aimed at returning high-quality sites to Google users.
There wasn’t a big splash on rankings when the Panda 3.5 and 3.6 updates rolled out. However, the parked domain bug led to outcries in the webmaster community especially from operators whose websites were mistakenly tagged as placeholder sites. Initially, people thought that it was the over-optimization penalty that Google announced.
Matt Cutts, head of the company’s webspam team, was quick to clarify that the search engine’s classifier for identifying parked domains read from empty files. This led to it misguidedly categorizing some sites as parked when they weren’t.
To clarify, parked domains are registered domain names that don’t have additional services like an email or a website. Some webmasters reserve these names ahead of time for future use or for protection against cybersquatting, where people register these sites to profit off of other trademarks. The practice involves taking advantage of users’ misspellings, typographical errors, or other variations of a brand.
These are the primary ways people misuse parked domains:
A possible result is that Google may devalue your website from SERPs because the duplicate content doesn’t provide any additional value to users. Another outcome could be the dilution of the link popularity of each of your pages where the content’s link juice is divided into multiple pages. For sites with this problem, it’s best to do 301 redirects for the subdomains.