Panda… those five little letters can strike so much fear into the hearts of webmasters. No, we’re not talking about the cute-n-cuddly animal as seen in the photo to the left. The Panda we’re referring to is the search ranking algorithm update used by Google to weed out the low-quality websites from its index.
Google rolled out Panda 1.0 back in February 2011 with the purpose of improving its search results. It’s in Google’s best interest to display the most relevant listings possible, as this is the number reason why so many people use its search engine. In an effort to achieve this goal, it uses Panda scans the web to identify thin and/or low-quality websites, knocking their rankings down while subsequently increasing the rankings for high-quality sites.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a new Panda update, but that may soon change, as new reports indicate that Google is preparing to let the black-and-white animal loose on the web. According to the folks at Search Engine Land, Google confirmed that it was planning to release a new Panda update.
News of Panda reportedly came at the SMX Advanced conference, during which Gary Illyes of Google said the next Panda update will happen in the next few weeks. Illyes didn’t specific an exact date for the update, nor did we reveal any other details, but it’s safe to assume that it will occur sooner than later.
“Illyes also explained that it is in Google’s best interest to keep this data fresh, so the they want to keep it updated as frequently as possible. But they do require manual updates and will currently not run by itself like some of their other algorithms,” said Barry Schwart, editor at SearchEngineLand.com.
So, what steps should you take to ensure your website isn’t caught in the crossfire of Google’s infamous Panda update? First and foremost, take an analysis of your site’s content to ensure it’s unique, factual, and considered to be “high quality.” Google places an emphasis on content, which is one of the driving factors behind its Panda update. Scraper sites and other sites that have mostly duplicate content will get hit the hardest.
You should also look at your site’s metrics, such bounce rate. A high bounce rate is usually indicative of a more serious problem like broken links, long load times, etc. Improving these elements will make your site more attractive to both visitors and Google.