SEO | Technical

Google's Panda Update:
A Brief Guide

by on 8th May 2011

What is the Panda Algorithm?

Panda was one of the most significant algorithm updates we had seen for years. It came about after ongoing and well documented complaints about the quality of Google search results. This all reached boiling point in February 2011 and the algorithm update “Panda” was released to combat the issue.

Here’s How: The Panda Update

  1. Panda targets thin, duplicate and very low quality webpages
  2. If you see a sudden drop in rankings and search traffic, you’ve probably been hit by some sort of update but not necessarily Panda
  3. Panda is a content quality specific update
  4. If you’re receiving any traffic to a page from Google, it’s probably good enough. Concentrate on URLs that don’t receive visits from Google
  5. Log file analysis, good technical SEO and content audits are the cure to Panda related problems
A series of algorithmic updates have affected this site's traffic fundamentally.

A series of algorithmic updates have affected this site’s traffic fundamentally.

Panda first launched on February 23, 2011. Its purpose was to try to promote high-quality sites higher in search results and demote sites that may be of lower quality. When the first updates hit, it seemed content farms that copy content or produce really thin content were hit first. The algorithm change was eventually officially named after one of its creators, Navneet Panda.

High Quality Websites and Machine Learning

Panda focuses entirely on “on-site quality”. Our closest guide to what Google considers to be “high quality” are the quality rater guidelines. Google takes the output of this data and applies machine learning to recognise the patterns high quality websites exhibit in comparison to lower quality sites. Panda is the output of this machine learning process. If you only did one thing, check that your site might fair well under review by taking into account the content of the guidelines!

In most cases, sites that were affected by Panda were hit really hard.

First “losers” included:

A collection of very low quality sites were hit in the very first Panda update.

A collection of very low quality sites were hit in the very first Panda update.

To monitor algorithm updates (the ones we know about), take a look at this Algorithm update timeline from Moz.

References and Further Reading

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