Google’s Panda Update: Slapping Content Farms

Google is always updating and evolving to find ways for its searches to be more helpful to users. One of the latest additions, known as the Panda Update (or the Farmer Update), is one such measure. This update blocks (“slaps” is another term being used) out websites that Google deems inappropriate because of low-quality content. While it’s been in use in the U.S. since February, Google is finally expanding it to all English language websites.

What is Panda?

The Panda Update seeks to identify and weed out low-quality sites from search results. What types of sites will be most affected? The biggest examples of these sites are known as “content farms” or “link farms.” These sites are designed with little or weak content and may contain lots of links to other business sites. In essence these sites are like farms where links are planted without thought, not restaurants where they are properly used with other ingredients to make a fine meal, or in this case, great website.

Why the Need for Panda?

According to Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

What Gets “Panda Slapped”?

If you have a website, you may be wondering what the Panda Update looks for just in case it may impact your site. The update looks for many different website components before it deems it a quality or low-quality site. Some of the factors weighed in determining if a site gets “Panda Slapped” include:

  • Original Content versus Content Copies From Other Sites
  • User Needs versus Business Goals
  • Valuable/Informative Content versus Weak Content

These are some general things Google now looks for when determining the quality of a website. There a many other factors, such as obvious page topics and ease of which users can move around the site, but these three appear to be some of the biggest factors.

With the Panda Update, Google is taking another step to weed out “Black Hat” and other shady marketing tactics. Google is also improving its user experience by increasing the number of quality and informational websites that come up in a particular search. This update could prove very useful for businesses by rewarding websites built with quality SEO, and for users by weeding out low-quality sites that come up in search results.

***As with any algorithmic change, legitimate businesses seeking to market themselves ethically online may be impacted and not understand why. At SonicSEO.com, we carefully monitor client sites and make adjustments as necessary to keep up with the latest rules and standards of the search engines.

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