What is Google’s Panda

In it’s unending efforts to improve search Google is constantly adjusting it’s algorithm.  February 2011 was no different as they launched the Panda algorithm update.

This update was aimed at helping people find more high-quality sites in their searches.  Of course, with every algorithmic change, ranks for some sites will be affected.  By Google’s estimation the initial launch of Panda affected 11.8% of it’s queries.

Some refinements to Panda followed closely in April 2011.  These refinements included some additional signals but affected closer to 2% of Google’s queries.  However, one signal of interest… incorporation of data about sites people block.  You may, or may not know, that Google gives its users the ability to block sites from their searches.  This information began influencing search with its incorporation in the April 2011 changes.

Just like a good website, Panda site quality related changes to the algorithm have continued to be updated periodically.

According to the Google Inside Search blog and Search Engine Land, 2012 saw as many as 14 changes made to Panda related to adding new data and refreshing the Panda algorithm.  2013 has already seen one in January which was the 24th Panda update according to Search Engine Land.

The 25th Panda update?  A widely reported comment from Matt Cutts at the SMX West show in March says another Panda update was due mid-March, 2013.  As of this post I haven’t confirmed the update but based on a search of he internet today there are a lot of reports that a significant link network has been targeted.

Generally Panda is like many other Google algorithm updates.  Will your site be affected?  Possibly.  What should you do?  Follow the Google Webmaster and Quality Guidelines and be true to your website visitors.

Does your site honestly provide value to your visitors?

Yes?  Then you should be okay.

No?  Then you need to re-think and re-work it.

Yes, but your rank has dropped?  Then it’s time to pay some attention to your site and be sure the value is still there and the content is still current.