Google Rolls Out Panda 4.0

Written by Nick Stamoulis

According to Search Engine Land,

Panda 4.0 must be a major update to the actual algorithm versus just a data refresh. Meaning, Google has made changes to how Panda identifies sites and has released a new version of the algorithm today.

Is this the softer and gentler Panda algorithm? From talking to Google, it sounds like this update will be gentler for some sites, and lay the groundwork for future changes in that direction.

The first Panda update was pushed live on February 24, 2011 and really shook up the search results in a way that totally revolutionized the world of SEO. According to Google’s official blog post when Panda launched,

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites, which are low-value, add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

Panda is a site wide penalty, which means that if “enough” (no specific number) pages of your site were flagged for having thin content, your entire site could be penalized. Panda was also intended to stop scrappers (sites that would republish other company’s content) from outranking the original author’s content. Panda targeted content farms, or sites that had poor quality content, that were ranking well. A lot of these content farms and blog networks are no longer alive. Mass article submission sites are pretty much dead and gone.

This is the 26th update/refresh of Panda that has been pushed out since 2011.

According to Search Engine Watch, Panda 4.0 is also hitting at the same time as a refresh of an algorithm that targets spammy queries like payday loans, making it more difficult for webmasters to sort through the damage. “Over the weekend we began rolling out a new algorithmic update,” a Google spokesperson told SEW. “The update was neither Panda nor Penguin – it was the next generation of an algorithm that originally rolled out last summer for very spammy queries.”

With both the payday loan update and Panda hitting the SERPs within 48 hours or so of each other, site owners that were hit might have a harder time diagnosing the core issue.

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