A huge update that will send shivers is Google’s release of Panda 4.0, the latest upgrade to the organic search ranking system on the search engine.
What is Google Panda?
Panda is a component of Google’s organic search algorithm created to weed out low-quality sites with “thin content.” With its initial release in 2011, Panda affected 12% of all search queries and since then, it’s been refreshed by Google more than a few dozen times.
This update is particularly stressful to many webmasters because Google stopped announcing any updates/refreshes to this algorithm piece, only a slight disclosure from Matt Cutts in March 2013 that Panda would most likely be upgraded monthly to continually prevent low quality content from surfacing to the top of Google search results.
Since the update was officially announced by Matt Cutts on Tuesday, many SEO experts are speculating that Panda 4.0 is a completely new, larger algorithm update. In conjunction with the Google Spam Algorithm 2.0 that released over the weekend, Google is sending a message that it’s taking big steps to thoroughly filter out “junk” from organic search rankings. Websites could see signs of major changes and ranking shifts in the next couple of months.
EBay Gets Slammed by Panda 4.0
Thanks to the rollout of Panda 4.0 and the Google Spam Algorithm (also known as the Payday Loan 2.0) , eBay is suffering MAJOR losses in organic traffic. Just look at the graph below taken by Dr. Pete at Moz, it’s pretty bad! In addition, they’re also advising all users to change their passwords as a result of a data hack.
Harvard Business Review predicts that Amazon, Walgreens, and other major retailers will follow in the footsteps of eBay. Why are these site being targeted? When a user searches for products, most likely the search results they’ll get is a doorway page – a page that has very little content. A user can visit that page and continually search for what they’re looking for on the site, but they’re not going to see much content along the way.
By knocking these product doorway pages out of rankings, Google is forcing eBay to consider product ads to stay relevant to the searcher (example below). Although this may seem like Google’s own way of making some money, it’ll actually be good for users, much better than eBay’s spammy strategy of creating millions of doorway/internal site search pages.
How Will This Affect Your Website
Short answer is: It won’t, unless you’re being sneaky. Prior to the Panda 4.0 rollout announcement, Matt Cutts, Head of Google Web Spam, mentioned that the new algorithm would be a “softer” approach to help small business websites with high quality content rank higher. The search algorithm will essentially act like police patrol, only penalizing sites that are involved in sneaky ‘black hat’ SEO tactics, poor quality content, and tricks that undermine Google in an attempt to rank higher in search results.
This also includes sites with awful backlinks that link back to the “bad neighborhood” of sites. To make sure that your site’s not affected, make sure you’re providing high quality content on your site and to not get tangled with SEO sneaky practices or SEO guys that aren’t reputable.