Though Google tweaks its algorithms regularly and refreshes the major ones monthly, it’s been a while since the last big update. So it was no shock to most of us working in SEO Australia when Matt Cutts announced the roll out of the Panda 4.0 update on May 20.
The Panda algorithm originally introduced in 2011 to combat poor quality content including high ad to content ratios and has undergone major revision several times.
So what’s new with Panda 4.0?
Panda has constantly been refreshed on a monthly basis and the number 4 appended to this one marks it as a major algorithm update of great interest to those working in SEO, Australia way.
Many have speculated that it’s part of Google’s kinder and gentler policy which is aimed at restoring rankings to smaller businesses hit by previous updates. It’s too soon to tell if this is happening but hopefully this will come over time.
As a result of previous updates focusing on authority, many smaller firms with excellent content were crowded out by larger operations with greater firepower.
In a related occurrence, Google also launched its Payday Loan 2.0 update which as the name suggests involves extremely spammy sites. The original Payday Loan was launched in June 2013 and was very query-specific targeting terms involving such sectors as cheap apartments, insurance, mortgages and, of course, payday loans.
Do You Need to Worry?
It’s early days but the initial main losers in this update were content aggregators who lacked their own original content. These included coupon and news sites which simply displayed content derived from other sources.
If you’re carrying out a policy of developing only unique and valuable content relevant for your market, you should have nothing to worry about. If you’re guilty of keyword stuffing or thin content, you need to look into fixing it.
Here are some other guidelines to help protect you against Panda updates.
- Look for any duplication issues on your sites. Content management systems such as WordPress are known for serving up identical copies of a page with different URLS.
- Check canonicalization issues to ensure only one URL variant is being indexed. Otherwise the pages http://mysite.com and http://www.mysite.com could show up as separate entities with identical content.
- Make sure your pages and posts aren’t displaying too many ads above the fold. Google now has an algorithm to check for this. It also adversely affects user experience and makes your site less attractive to link to.
- Make sure you’re not optimising any pages for the kind of hyper spammy queries that the Payday Loan update targets.
If you’ve been affected by Google updates or you want to inoculate yourself against future ones with some quality SEO, Australia style, Sydney search engine optimisation experts Smart SEO can help. Get in touch for some sound advice from our quality team.