At the end of September 2014, Google announced the 28th update to it’s Panda algorithm. This was concerned with low-quality content offering little to no value to users as well as duplicate content on both the website itself, and across external websites.

We discussed this post release back in September and we knew it would only be a matter of time before the next update to the algorithm was released. Then, on the 22nd of July, Google confirmed what we had all been expecting (a Panda refresh) and we have the lowdown for you here…

Google Panda 4.2

Google is continually working to improve it’s offering, ensuring high quality (and the most relevant content) is displayed to users following their search query - one way to do this is through updates to the algorithms (Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird). Originally released back in 2011, Google’s aim was to reward high-quality content with high rankings in SERPs whilst penalising spammy content from entering the results.

Impact of Panda 4.2

Despite 10 months since the last update to Panda, Google hasn’t remained quiet, introducing two big changes this year already: ‘Mobilegeddon’ (encouraging websites to be optimised for mobile) and the ‘Quality update’, (rewarding websites with high quality content). 

Over the years, Google has become reserved when discussing algorithm updates but what do we need to know about Panda 4.2? Labelled as a refresh rather than an update, Google confirmed Panda 4.2 could take months to fully roll out and it is expected to affect 2-3% or 36 million searches (much lower than the most recent refreshes and updates). For those punished by Panda 4.1, this refresh couldn’t come quick enough however for those of you punished by Panda 4.2, it may be some time before the next update comes along. It’s important to note, after the update is released, it is too late to make changes and your search rankings will take a short term hit no matter what you do to resolve it.

If your search rankings have been negatively affected by Panda 4.2, it is essential to continue to make improvements to your website and your content. Although you will not see instant results, this will be extremely beneficial to your long-term website performance. 

Quality Content

Over the course over the next few months, if you see your site’s traffic decline this could be a result of Panda punishing your site for low quality content. If this occurs, there is only one solution we recommend: focus on improving the existing content as well as creating lots of quality content.

Yes, I know what you're thinking, ‘what does Google determine quality content?’ It’s important to remember Panda’s initial intentions: to punish websites which are involved in keyword stuffing, spammy links and any ‘black-hat’ tactics exploiting Google’s search algorithms. Simply put, it’s all about providing your audience with what they’re looking for online. Google does not simply display websites with the best optimised content, their main aim is to display websites with the most relevant and valuable content related to the user’s search query.

Creating great quality content remains the best way to turn around from a Panda punishment and should be your priority.

Top tips to satisfy the Panda algorithm

    • Website audit: review the best performing content on your website to identify where your audience is engaged the most (this can be done using performance tools such as Google Analytics).
    • Quality content: continue to create quality content on a regular basis to keep the Google bots happy. The more content you create, the more often Google will crawl (and index) your website, thus displaying your content within SERPs.
    • Social sharing: although it’s impact on rankings is yet to be confirmed, this will drive targeted traffic to your website.
    • Mobile friendliness: back in April when mobilegeddon landed, Google expanded mobile friendliness as a search ranking therefore if your site is still not responsive (optimised for mobile devices), your website may not be performing as well as you would have hoped. 

So, if you have seen a decline in your search rankings since Panda 4.2 came into effect, it is more than likely your website has had the Panda penalty. Don’t worry though, take our top tips on board. Utilising tools such as Google Analytics will allow you to identify top performing content where your audience engage the most, the flow of users when on the website and the top performing keywords driving traffic to your site. This will allow you to see the content working well and provide insights into the areas which require improvement.
If you haven’t taken action then now is the time. Should you have any questions surrounding Panda 4.2 get in touch with us on [email protected] and we will be happy to answer your questions.