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Is your site ready for the 2015 Google Panda update?

Following on from Google’s recent mobile friendly algorithm update and the HTTPS changes that many in the industry saw around the 16th June, comes the news of another update scheduled to be with us before the end of June.

Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed at the SMX Advanced conference at the beginning of June that the next iteration of Panda would be released within 4 weeks. Google’s John Mueller then stated a few days ago that the Panda algorithm update would be released within the next couple of weeks.

Depending on the quality of your website, its niche and its goals, the 2015 Panda update could be a reason to be happy, scared or nonplussed. The releases in April and September 2014 had some devastating consequences for a lot of websites who were reliant on Google traffic for their business, but for many, this is a chance for them to show Google the improvements to their website over the past 9 months and in theory, shoot back up the rankings. Interesting times indeed.

What is the Google Panda Algorithm?

For those of you unaware of the Google Panda algorithm, here’s a quick overview. Panda is designed to lower the rank of websites that Google deems to be low in quality and thin in content. The releases last year hit affiliate marketing websites in particular. Websites that have hundreds/thousands of pages, all with similar short content (often duplicate or near-duplicate content) and lots of links out to other websites, were largely hit.

Don’t forget that Google’s overall aim is to show the most relevant websites for any particular search query. The way Google sees it, if a user is landing on a website and then quickly clicking through to another website, then the middle man (or site) is not what the user is looking for, and their end destination site was. Therefore, the middle man could see a drop in rankings, and the end site could see a boost.

The Google Panda can be a pain for comparison sites in particular, but if they are giving real worth to the user then they should be okay. The same goes for websites with thousands of product on them. You would think that Google is intuitive enough to understand that product pages, even those with duplicate content, are a necessity for millions of ecommerce websites so they would avoid any Panda penalty.

The Panda update is designed to rid the rankings of untrustworthy sites, scraper sites and fly-by-night affiliate sites, and that is a good thing. Take a look at your own site and ask the question “Would I trust this site with my credit card details?” If the answer is “no” then you may have cause to worry about the next Panda release.  If your business is reputable and there are contact numbers, a static address and it is HTTPS secure, then you should be fine.

There are many different elements that can result in a Panda hit or miss. Remember that the update is an algorithm and not an exact science. Even if you are a reputable company, you don’t want to get mistakenly caught up in the cross-fire. If you are unsure or have been hit in the past, then get in touch.