Panda 4.1: Adding New Signals

The Panda 4.1 update rolled out in September 2014, and it’s the 28th run of the filter. New signals were introduced to allow for more precise detection of thin content. Moreover, it’s believed that it enabled several high-quality but small-sized sites to perform well in the SERPs.

What’s It For

In a now unavailable Google+ post, the developers announced that Panda 4.1 has new signals to help the filter detect low-quality content more accurately. The improvements were gathered from user and webmaster feedback. It targeted the usual suspects such as keyword stuffing and security warnings.

The most prominent enhancement was in devaluing affiliate marketing sites that only operated to direct users to their partner websites. These were pages that ranked well for competitive search terms even though they had thin content and merely served to drive visitors to their e-commerce associates.

Typically, their landing pages only showed a small paragraph at the beginning. After that section, the list of links to their partner websites is listed and takes up most of the content. Panda 4.1 targeted this type of affiliate site since it doesn’t provide valuable information for users and simply acted as a gateway for other domains. Another factor that led to a penalty was showing affiliate links first to visitors instead of actual content.

The filter continued to fight against content farms. These are websites that had several articles, usually, in a how-to format, that doesn’t provide useful and in-depth knowledge for users. Most of these pages were also unorganized and attempted to trick readers by incorporating ads and affiliate links throughout the content.

Other factors that Panda 4.1 targeted were:

Broken or blank pages in top organic listings
Doorway pages
Deceptive content
Too many pop-up ads
Forced downloads
Security warnings
What Were Its Effects
Panda 4.1 was a pretty significant update with an estimated impact on about three to five percent of queries. It mainly affected informational websites that had touched on a vast array of topics. It’s crucial to note that the previous version, Panda 4.0, gave more weight to domains that focused on a specialized field or area of study rather than those that talked about anything under the sun.

This update appears to have continued what 4.0 started months prior. Websites that offered general information articles such as and suffered a massive hit on their organic traffic and rankings. One factor that may have led to this drop is that there’s no set standard for content quality since there are a lot of contributors.

On the other hand, niche content sites benefited greatly after Panda 4.1. Local business domains that gave users a content-rich experience revolving around their products, services and other related topics to their brand also moved up in the SERPs.

What It Means for You

As mentioned time and again, Google puts user experience above anything else. The search engine will continue to add more signals as searcher preferences, and practices evolve. Moreover, shady webmasters also come up with cunning tactics in an attempt to game the system and manipulate their way to the top of the SERPs.

These are the three major areas that you should focus on to boost the performance of your website:

  • Content Quality High-quality content is the best income-generating tool. Always write for humans first before thinking of ways to incorporate your primary keywords into your blog post, and make the search terms blend in as seamlessly as possible when you do place them in your article.
    Find out what your target audience wants to read from your website by monitoring social media chatter on topics related to your brand. Moreover, supplement the claims you make on your content by linking to authoritative references.
  • Technical On-Page SEO Meanwhile, technical on-page SEO is the one that will allow you to reach your target market. What good is high-quality content when it’s undiscoverable? This area involves optimizing factors such as your title, meta description, URL, HTML tags, image alt tags, and even site speed for each page in your domain by incorporating the appropriate keywords. These elements work together to ensure that your website pops up when a user types in a query that you can answer.
  • Web Design If on-page SEO brings searchers to your domain, the layout of your website keeps them there. A well-crafted site with intuitive navigation can reduce bounce rates and increase conversions which are the things that what you want for your business. Additionally, it also provides a seamless user experience, which ultimately allows you to win Google’s favor.