With the last Panda update ten months ago in September 2014, websites which saw a drop in keyword rankings will be pleased to hear that they might finally be back in the search engine’s good graces thanks to Panda 4.2. The data insights team has been investigating.
Alert the hashtag powers that be… Google’s upgraded its petting zoo again. And this time it’s the Panda enclosure that’s getting some overdue TLC.
So what’s new for Panda 4.2?
Firstly, for those of you who get your Pandas, Penguins and Pigeons confused – here’s a little recap of the original Google Panda back in February 2011.
A search engine’s only aim is to get answers for search queries as quickly and as relevantly as possible.To aid its search for relevance, Google released its Panda filter four years ago in order to stop sites with poor-quality content ranking highly on SERPs. Before this clever little addition, a lot of websites were ranking through a checklist of SEO optimisation that was of no benefit to the reader, and was actually causing irrelevant and uninsightful content to show up above answers users would be interested in.
What most people don’t understand about Panda is that it is actually a filter on the Core Algorithm and not an algorithm change in itself. While Google’s intentions (apparently) are to eventually reach a point where Panda works in live time with the search algorithm, in the meantime it has to push through manual data refreshes to give websites a chance to recover from any thin bamboo they were feeding the Panda beforehand.
So what’s the Panda 4.2 strategy?
The unique feature of this refresh is that it’s going to take a lot longer than any update Google has done before. Google has stated that there are some internal technical issues that mean websites might have to wait a little while before they know whether or not they’ve survived. Webmasters may not have a conclusive result for months.
But the key thing here is that Google is only ever updating its algorithm and filters to better represent human behaviour and provide the best possible service as a search engine. So if you’re writing content that’s intended for genuine human consumption, then you have nothing to worry about.
Of course, there are SEO best practices that are helpful. But, to quote our director of strategy in this recent interview, it’s like writing an essay – “the guidelines tell you that you should bold the title, be clear in your intro and don’t plagiarise, but doing these alone won’t get you an A”.
I know we don’t like to admit it, but let’s be honest here, we all want an A. If you get your quality content up to date and keep your optimisation complementing your efforts, you should have no problem getting (and keeping) your exclusive tickets to Google’s Zoo.