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SEO And Google Panda Update

Launched in February of 2011, one of Google’s algorithm updates and a predecessor of the Penguin update, affectionately nicknamed “Panda”, was created to address Google’s concern with “low-quality” websites using search engine optimization and other rather more shady tactics to gain higher ranking in search results. The launch of the update reportedly affected 12% of websites across the internet. The original update has, since then, received numerous other updates since the original complaint-ridden launch, but the Panda update still remains an important obstacle for optimizers to keep in mind when trying to update websites to maximize search ability.

Unlike many of its update predecessors, Panda utilizes a system based off of artificial intelligence that examines and evaluates webpages based on the quality of content rather than more superficial structural and easily rate-able content. Google employed a number of quality testers who rated thousands of websites on various measures of quality, which ranged from more concrete factors such as design to more abstract concepts like trustworthiness. Panda was created using the human subject evaluations and was programmed to look for similarities between the evaluated webpages and new webpages. Unlike the newer Penguin update, which has a focus more based on factors pertaining to over-optimization and web spam (Ex. excessive links, overuse of keywords etc.) and has the ability to penalize sites for over-optimization, Panda was created solely to judge the content of a site, deeming it relevant, well-written, or original, and awarding a higher or lower ranking accordingly.

Some of the content of websites that Panda often deems as “low-quality” and, thus, something that optimizers and web-page users should try to remove, are:

· Duplicate content/information within the website itself

· Duplicate content from other sites

· Low amount of original content

· Large numbers of pages and very little content spread out over them

· Inappropriate/irrelevant advertisements

· Page content that is actually irrelevant to its tags/titles of the pages

· Low visitor time on the site

· Low amount of visitors returning to the site

· Presence of low quality links/No links

· No presence of social media links

Unlike many other algorithmic updates, Panda is also special in that is penalizes and lowers the ranking of an entire site if a single page is found to be in violation of the factors that it has been programmed to view as positive.

One of the criticisms of Panda is the fact that if often finds “evergreen content”—old information that is thought of as “timeless” in violation of the factors thought to support a good, quality website. Often, evergreen content is found on many different websites because it is considered, by some, to be common knowledge. Panda interprets the necessary and helpful evergreen content as duplication and also as content that lacks the “freshness” and newness that a consistently updated and high quality site is supposed to have.

Another important factor involved in the Panda update is the use of ads on webpages. While Google Adware a separate entity within the Google taskforce encourages the use of ads on webpages, optimizers must be aware that Panda and other updates penalizes websites for excessive use of ads. If there are more ads than content on a single page (Ex. in left and right sidebars AND in top or bottom sections of the page), then the page and subsequently the entire site will be flagged as spam. Ads must be kept to a minimum to avid the consequences of Panda or, at the very least, owners should try to choose to allow ads that are somehow relevant to the content of the page.

Panda has also been reported to favor websites that showcase more of a “human” touch than machine-built websites based off of basic, pre-existing framework. In order to avoid the wrath of the Panda update, webpages must display a setup with obvious human intervention.

For the most part, the best way to avoid receiving a site-wide penalization from Panda is to use only clean search engine optimization, avoiding under-handed tactics, and focusing on the actual content of the page.

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