Meet Google’s Latest Panda Update

Panda 4.1 is up and running, and the filter created to penalize poor, thin content is savvier than ever. Perhaps the most well known of search engine optimization (SEO) algorithms, Google’s Panda has undergone numerous updates since being “born” in February 2011. Panda 4.1According to a Google+ post (from Google itself), a “slow rollout” was released in late September 2014 and it’s expected to affect between three and five percent of all search queries. The 4.1 update promises more precision and will allow more quality, smaller sites to rank better. In other words, it’s a blessing for startups and smaller businesses looking to compete with the big boys.

“Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely,” says Google. “This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.” If your small(er) business has a web presence, you may have noticed a bolstering of web traffic in early October—but only if you’ve been diligent about cleaning up your site and abiding by SEO best practices.

Q4 Goals: Play Nicely with Panda 4.1

The previous Panda update occurred four months ago and it gave some sites a much-needed kick in the pants to improve their SEO. While Google is notoriously secretive about the details of their SEO algorithm, the company is also very open about the basics of what’s “good SEO” and what’s “bad,” and the Head of the Webspam Team, Matt Cutts, regularly blogs about SEO strategy. If you weren’t ranking as well as you could have four months ago, that gave you 120 days to clean up your act.

Sending the last of 2014 out with a bang requires diligence, a fantastic SEO team, and keeping up with the latest SEO best practices—but it can be done. The basics like steering clear of black hat tricks, focusing more on long-tail keywords or “themes” rather than short-tail keywords, and offering responsive design/mobile readiness along with flawless organic, quality content can do wonders for your search rankings. As Black Friday sneaks up on us, for many e-tailers, deadlines for better search rankings—and ultimately more traffic—are looming.

How’s Panda Treating You?

It’s relatively easy to tell how your site is working with Panda 4.1: Notice an increase in traffic? Your SEO is on a better track (but could probably still get even better). Notice a traffic drop? The Panda is on your back and you have to take care of SEO issues pronto. No matter what, it’s a reminder that every website owner needs to stay on top of their analytics. Some SEO gurus are theorizing that the Panda’s new cycle is every quarter, which allows a nice amount of buffer time to adjust your strategy, correct problems, and truly optimize your efforts.

Panda focusing on quality content isn’t new. Getting rid of poor, irrelevant, or duplicate content to keep Google’s index clean has always been a priority. What’s most interesting about the latest Panda renditions, including 4.1, is the focus on smaller websites. Following the initial rollout, most SEO experts agreed that Panda 4.1 is a “small iteration” that’s made a huge impact on not-so-huge businesses. For example, comdotgame.com enjoyed a 1,353 percent boost in rankings after the rollout.

Want to make the most of your own traffic and visibility with the latest update? It’s a small-ish business’ market right now. Find out what a reputable SEO firm can do for your site when a new Panda’s running wild.

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