Watch out, there’s a (newly updated) Panda about: Google’s latest iteration of its Panda algorithm (4.1) to be more precise. And in under a week of its rollout, it’s already dealt a savage mauling to some forms of online content.
Designed to filter out poor, spammy or “thin” content from higher search rankings, the latest incarnation of the not-so-cuddly virtual beast is (according to Google, anyway) allegedly more precise. According to a post by Google’s Pierre far on Google+, the internet giant has discovered “a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.”
Basically, that means it should permit small and medium-sized sites with high quality to achieve better rankings. It should also help anyone clobbered by its predecessor’s mighty paw to emerge into the light again if they’ve made the right changes.
According to the SearchMetric SEO blog, there have undoubtedly been some winners so far. If your online presence hinges on news feeds, content writing or on being a download portal, you’ll be amongst the winners; however, if your site belongs to the realm of medical content, games or lyrics, you’ll be licking your newly inflicted wounds.
Just to give an example, medterms.com saw 40 per cent of their web visibility disappear, crashing from 286,956 to 172,836. And one of Panda’s historically favourite punchbags, ehow.com, has taken an eyewateringly huge hit this time around. The losers list also includes some big names, like hallmark.com and even office365.com and hubpages.com. In the case of the last two, the drop in visibility may not be attributable to a Panda clout though – both have recently migrated to new URLs.
So, why are medical content sites and music and lyrics portals taking the biggest hits? According to SearchMetrics.com’s founder, Marcus Tober, they’re interpreted by the algorithm as containing thin content because they’re aggregators. As he puts it:
“…in general, it hit pages with thin content. Aggregators do not provide unique and relevant content.”
A number of former casualties of Panda have, though, redeemed themselves with the update. These include rd.com, ivillage.com, Hotelguides.com, Spoonful.com and Yourtango.com.