Panda: The Quest For High-Quality Results

A month after the attribution update that cracked down on sites with plagiarized and scraped content, Panda continued the battle against low-quality blog post materials. It was deemed as “a pretty big algorithmic improvement” by Google as well as webmasters all over the world. The update was initially called Farmer because of its focus on content farms, but the company’s Amit Singhal noted that it was named after an engineer.

What’s It For

The update was created with the intent to reduce the rankings of low-quality sites in the SERPs. These websites were the ones that don’t provide valuable information to users and those that plagiarize content from others.

Inversely, the team also announced that they’d provide better rankings for publishers of original content in the form of research, in-depth reports, and thoughtful analysis, among others. Basically, it rewards high-quality pages with top spots in the results pages while devaluing those that violated their guidelines.

In an interview with Wired, Singhal, who was responsible for search quality, and Matt Cutts, the head of anti-webspam, explained that they formulated questions based on a site’s perceived credibility and authority which they sent out to external testers.

Their teams also used data from the Chrome Site Blocker, which users utilized to specify the sites that they don’t want to be included in their search results. They did clarify that they only compared the data between the domains in the blocked list and those that were downgraded by the update to see if the algorithm change was in the right path.

What Were Its Effects

While the attribution update only affected 0.5 percent of the search results, Panda, on the other hand, impacted a whopping 11.8 percent of the queries. Moreover, in the comparison between the Blocklist data and the downgraded sites list, the algorithmic change addressed 84 percent of the entire inventory.

There were reports that government sites, which are deemed as authoritative, have regained their position in the top spots of the SERPs after the Panda update was rolled out. Content farms ranked above them before.

However, some websites experienced a drop in traffic even when they provided original and good-quality content. It was suspected that the loss was because other sites scraped and republished their blog posts without credit.

What It Means for You

Since it was launched in February 2011, Panda has gained several updates. The higher versions focused on continuing the groundwork laid out by the first patch and worked towards ensuring that Google provides users with the most relevant results. The search engine keeps developing more updates that will improve the quality of the pages featured in the results.

For SEO, generating original and unique content is crucial for your strategy. However, it doesn’t stop there. Your overarching focus should be to provide an excellent experience to your site visitors that begins the moment that they click on your link in the SERPs and until they ultimately convert from potential buyers to loyal, paying customers.

Here are the ways you can optimize your site for the Panda update:

  • Produce Niche Content – With the oversaturated digital sphere today, it can be difficult to create original content per se. What you can do instead is to be specific in the posts you make by offering in-depth information on a particular topic or even subtopic. The articles you write can influence how Google identifies your brand and associates you with relevant keywords. That’s why you have to provide the search engine and its bots with direction from which to crawl and index your site.
  • Write Detailed Articles – Concerning niche content, Google not only assesses the subject matter you’re writing about but the way you explain it as well. Ideally, your content must have between 750 to 1,500 words. While it may seem like an overwhelming figure, it can actually help you tackle the topic in-depth.
  • Make Your Site Easy to Navigate – Improving the navigational architecture of your site may seem straightforward enough, but it can do wonders for your SEO. There’s a reason why most websites, more or less, have a similar layout because it works. Make your domain easy to navigate by laying out the flow of your pages and labeling each section clearly.
  • Acquire High-Quality Backlinks – Link building continues to be an essential practice in SEO. More than getting lots of backlinks, relevance, especially with your partner site and anchor text, is still the key to getting that coveted top spot in the results pages so that’s where your focus should be.