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Google Panda Integrated Into the Search Algorithm; What Does It All Mean?
Pandas and people working in SEO used to share much the same relationship as pandas and normal people do; they were our furry black-and-white bamboo-munching friends, the lovable sneezing stars of widely-viewed YouTube videos, a reason to smile in this world of greed and corruption. We would have hugged them if we weren’t so terrified they’d maul us.
But then, 2011 happened and evil Google overlord/head of web spam Matt Cutts decided to name a Google algorithm update targeting sites with low quality, ‘thin’ content after the magnificent beasts. Most of you will be well aware that things between SEOs and pandas have never been the same since, the sneeze of a baby panda representing yet another website smashed out of the Google rankings.
Bleating and moaning aside, most SEOs have actually adapted to the demands of Panda and each update is met with mere trepidation rather than widespread terror. Nevertheless, the update has had a massive impact on how we ‘do’ SEO; Search Engine Land recently published a series of posts looking at the impact of Panda two years on which is well worth a few minutes of your time.
The Panda Algorithm Amalgamation
This week, Panda was back on the SEO menu again, with Matt Cutts announcing at SMX West that Panda was to be integrated into the overall search algorithm. This essentially means that rather than the periodic updates that are ‘pushed out’ to the detriment of sites, Panda will be running near-constantly, catching spammy sites as it goes.
This means that, rather than a glut of sites all getting hit at the same time, sites will be getting hit – and recovering – all the time. In one sense, this is a good thing; rather than having to wait for the latest Panda update before recovering, sites hit by Panda in the past may recover much quicker.
On the other hand, it takes away a key indicator for identifying what has gone wrong should rankings drop dramatically. At present, the Panda updates are handily listed by date. Should a drop in rankings correspond with a particular date then the chances are you’ve been hit by Panda. Once identified, you can begin to remedy Panda-related issues and hopefully recover by the next update.
Without this indicator, however, recovery could become a guessing game. It could be argued that those who get hit by Panda will probably be aware that their site isn’t quite up to scratch but given the clear-as-mud ‘quality’ guidelines provided by Google, the line between ‘quality’ and not can be indistinct.
So what should SEOs do about this integration? In short, nothing. The shift from manual updates to being integrated in the actual search algorithm itself doesn’t actually change the nature of Panda itself. It’s boring to hear but it bears repeating; make sure your site content is of a high standard, keep it regularly updated with the kind of ‘fresh’, ‘quality’ content everyone is so keen to teach you about and avoid duplicate content like the plague.