What You Need to Know About Panda 4.0

PandaYou may have heard recently about an update to Google’s algorithm, dubbed Panda 4.0.

Most Google updates are accompanied by lots of panic and fearmongering across the internet. When the dust settles, however, the update usually turns out to be a boon for websites already doing the right thing. Panda 4.0 is no exception.

All of Google’s Panda updates are aimed at boosting sites with lots of fresh, quality content. Generally speaking, the only sites that will get punished are those with thin, duplicate, over-optimized content.

Although it’s always important to keep abreast of search engine updates, as long as your SEOUX™ practices are solidly white hat, there’s no reason to panic. As with every update, some sites will see dramatic drops in traffic. But others will actually benefit and see dramatic improvements.

Here’s What Changed

  • For several months Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, has been promising a ‘softer’ Panda that would be more friendly to small sites and small businesses. Panda 4.0 is it.
  • In a recent Tweet, Cutts said to think about Panda 4.0 as a new architecture, one that “brings in some of the softer side, but also lays groundwork for future iteration.”
  • While it’s impossible to know for sure, this update has benefited some sites with great content that were punished by previous Panda updates for other on-page SEO factors.
  • The update is estimated to have impacted about 7.5% of English search queries.
  • Google also rolled out a completely separate update, known as the payday loans update, which cracked down on the spammiest search queries, at exactly the same time as Panda 4.0. If your site has experienced a drop over the last week, it could actually be due to this payday loans update and not Panda 4.0.

Here’s What You Have to Do

  • Take a look in Google Analytics to see if your site experienced any major shift in traffic starting around May 20th. Generally it takes about ten days for Google to complete rolling out a new algorithm update.
  • Continue to focus on building out quality content and providing users with the best possible experience.
  • Make an effort to remove duplicate content on your site, especially if it’s from a source that could potentially be seen as spammy.
  • If your site was affected, consider revamping the content on your main pages and devoting more resources to creating fresh original content on your blog. This would also be a great time to conduct a SEOUX™ audit to make sure your site is living up to technical SEO best practices and delivering value to the user.

Ultimately the best thing you can do for your site in the long run is to make fresh, original, interesting content and fantastic user experience a priority. If you do that, you have nothing to fear from Panda 4.0 or any future update.

Photo via Jônatas Cunha on Flickr. 

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