Panda 3.7 to 3.9.2: Building A Better Filter

Google rolled out two successive updates for its Panda filter on June 2012 and followed it up with Panda 3.9 in July. The team then made minor tweaks to version 3.9 with 3.9.1 which was released on August and 3.9.2, which came on September. Panda has gone through a lot of adjustments since its initial launch in February 2011.

What’s It For

The Panda algorithm penalized low-quality sites; ones that don’t provide valuable insights to searchers because of practicing plagiarism through content farms. The 3.7, 3.8, and 3.9 updates were more of data refreshes which meant that they ran the filter during these times since it’s separate from the primary index. The 3.9.1 and 3.9.2 versions were also refreshes and did not introduce new signals to the algorithm.

What Were Its Effects

The first Panda’s implementation affected 11.8 percent of queries while impacting a majority of the entire index, precisely 84 percent. Subsequent versions like 3.7 to 3.9 only made slight ripples in the rankings.

Panda 3.7 and 3.8 influenced less than one percent of queries in the United States and one percent globally. 3.9 also impacted lower than one percent of searches while 3.9.1 and 3.9.2 have an effect on an even smaller portion with fewer than 0.7 queries.

What It Means for You

To bounce back from the losses that your website may have suffered from the Panda filter, you just need to have content that Google deems as high-quality. It sounds straightforward enough, but SEO specialists know that it takes time and effort to rebuild your reputation and rank in the SERPs.

These are three descriptions of content that appears to be alike, but the search engine defines differently:

  • Thin Content – If your page has thin material, it means that it has insignificant value to your site visitor. One factor that affects this is word count because the assumption is that an author uses up many words to fully explain a topic to a reader. As much as possible, avoid having pages that only have one or two sentences since Google may tag your website as low-quality.
  • Duplicate Content – Duplicate content pertains to posts that are blatantly copied from other sources or internal pages that give the same information to users with only slight differences such as a product catalog where the only dissimilarities for the items are their sizes, shapes, and colors.
  • Low-Quality Content – This type of content is not in-depth. It’s closely related to thin content where the information you post on your website should offer users a fresh perspective or a new way of looking at things. While it’s okay to publish a blog post every day, make sure that each article contains relevant and innovative knowledge to your readers.

Meanwhile, here are some clarifications for Google Panda that you should know about:

  • It’s More than Penalizing Duplicate Content Again, the Panda filter is more than an algorithm that punishes duplicate content. The focus is always on providing high-quality, unique, and relevant information to searchers. What you should do, instead, is to conduct rebranding and find ways to make your website stand out against competitors in your industry.
  • Deleting Content is Not the Only Solution When the first Panda update rolled out, Google recommended site operators to remove thin content from their websites. However, recently, they’ve changed their tune and suggested adding more high-quality stuff instead of putting in the effort to backtrack their data. The algorithm looks at the overall domain anyway, so you can just balance not-so-good content with ones that pack a lot of punch.
  • Tread Carefully with User-Generated Content Some people mistakenly believe that all user-generated content should be eliminated from their websites. While Google does target this type of content, it only does so for pages that were detected to have guest posts or forums filled with spam. As long as you moderate your comments section and exercise full editorial control over contributed articles, you can maintain the high-quality status of your site.
  • Understand Word Count As mentioned earlier, word count is only crucial for tracking how many terms you use to explain a topic or subject matter to human readers fully. It can be an influencing factor on how Google deems the quality of your website, but it only plays a minor role for your ranking. While there is a recommended minimum for publishing posts, you should focus on the value that you provide to users by ensuring that your articles answer users’ queries sensibly.