Google launched Panda in early 2011, a search results algorithm which filtered out websites with low quality content. This was the beginning of a series of huge quality control checks. Google Panda effectively stripped search results pages (SERPs) of badly constructed and spammy content, enabling higher quality websites to rise to the top.
Google targeted websites that would churn out low quality content that usually ranked simply because of the sheer quantity of copy. This was a large concern for Google, as they are always striving to deliver high quality results for an optimal user experience.
The algorithm has become one of Google’s core ranking signals. It is always under development to become even more sophisticated in its evaluation of what is defined as low quality content, driving up the level required by websites wishing to rank well.
How does Panda work?
Google researchers devised a rigorous set of questions for website testers to review a selection of domains. From these questions and reviews, the Google team devised a set of ranking signals which formed the definition of what would be considered low quality content.
Google is always changing and advancing the signals and metrics it uses to determine a website’s value. This enables Google to stay on top of what is considered good and bad content, and continuously provide excellent user experience.
What Does Panda Target?
The Google Panda update targets websites using:
• “Thin” onsite content: Websites without quality content across many pages tend not to provide a valuable user experience.
• Duplicate content: If there is a high volume of duplicate content—pages with very similar or exactly the same content—then this may be a signal of search engine manipulation.
• Machine-generated content: Also known as ‘spun content’, this is copy automatically produced by software to fill webpages with keyword rich, but ultimately poor quality, information.
• Excessive onsite adverts: Pages which are inundated with adverts compromise user experience.
Panda is not a penalty
A Moz article discussing Google Panda, quotes a Google spokesperson saying:
“The Panda algorithm may continue to show such a site for more specific and highly-relevant queries, but its visibility will be reduced for queries where the site owner’s benefit is disproportionate to the user’s benefit.”