It’s hard to believe it, but 24th February 2015 marked the fourth birthday of Google’s Panda algorithm: Panda 1.0 debuted on 24th February 2011. Yup, it’s been with us that long. And it’s hard to dispute that it represented the most significant content quality algorithm the search giant has ever released, including Penguin.
That’s not to say that Penguin’s fatwa on dodgy backlinks has been insignificant. But Panda has hit far more sites and it really does seem to have cleaned up Google’s quality-evaluating processes overnight.
Fourth birthdays aside, those of us who depend on our daily bread by producing top quality digital content (whether article writing, website copywriting, audio or video production) are, it’s probably fair to speculate, getting a little twitchy. We haven’t seen a Panda update since October last year, even though since 2011, according to SEO expert Barry Schwartz at SearchEngineRoundtable.com, there have been more than 20 Google-confirmed updates and almost certainly well over 50 unconfirmed updates to the algorithm. The last confirmed update was actually 25th September 2014 but many webmasters were convinced that two others occurred on 13th and 24th October as well.
Panda’s importance can’t be underestimated (as Schwartz puts it, it’s now part of the SEO handbook and has fundamentally changed how SEOs work on websites). And that’s not all: it’s also fundamentally changed how hundreds, if not thousands of businesses operate online as well as the type of websites that rank well in Google.
Google took a lot of flak for the quality of its search rankings in the pre-Panda era. Post-Panda, the search landscape has been utterly transformed.
Other than to say another update is due any time soon, which it simply must be, there’s little anyone can actually do to prepare for it beyond ensuring that their content is of the highest quality and is regularly updated. A lot of people will be nervously waiting to see if the changes they made after being hit by Panda 4.1 on 25th September last year have improved the quality of their site in Google’s estimations.
But until the refresh actually occurs, all they can do is sit and wait and maybe, if they’re so inclined, pray a little.