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A Year On From Panda – What Have We Learnt?

Doesn’t time fly by? Can you believe that around this time last year, Google rolled out its Panda algorithm changes that would shock the very foundations of the World Wide Web and change the way SEO marketers would approach their work forever.

Panda was intended to stir things up, and it certainly managed to do just that. This blog will take a look at the implications of the Panda update and what Search Engine Optimisers have learned a year on.

Quality Counts

One of the main aims of the Panda update was to penalise low quality content. The internet is full to the brim with interesting and useful content, but it is fair to say that it has amassed a sizeable amount of trash as well. Before Panda, the quality of a website’s content was never a deciding factor in determining its ranking on the Google results page, so a website with poorly composed and irrelevant information could rise high and enjoy top billing in Google solely down to a good optimisation strategy.

That was, until Panda prowled the web. The update was aimed at stamping out poor quality content and reminded SEO marketers that informative and useful content was what mattered, and search engine results would be determined by this.

Panda also concentrated on duplication of content as there were many webmasters that published the exact same articles across many different sites. This was something Google became unhappy with as the same content appearing in their result pages compromised the quality of its listings. Websites that contained duplicate content were hit very hard with the Panda update. In response to this, many of the so-called content farms took drastic measures by deleting most of their content and making dramatic changes to their publishing policies.

Did Panda Make a Few Blunders?

Regardless of all the hype and publicity that Google’s Panda update received, it was far from perfect and blunders were made. The algorithm changes did penalise sites that were guilty of containing low quality content, but it also affected a number of sites that were innocent of these crimes.

The websites that were wrongly affected mainly consisted of smaller businesses; this led to critics accusing Google of having a scatter gun approach to the little guys whilst turning a blind eye to the bigger corporations. To add to this, the update still managed to miss many of its intended targets resulting in a sizeable number of low content websites still ranking highly today.

What conclusion should we draw?

SEO marketers now know that the quality of content is king and it is more important than ever to make sure their websites reflect this. Panda has let a few sites slip through its paws, but the days of good optimisation carrying more weight than quality of content are largely over. Putting the accuracy of the update to one side, Panda’s main objective was to serve better quality results up to the end user and this is something that all SEO marketers should be realising and striving for from this day on.