22nd February and 11th April, 2011 – I will remember these two dates forever. One year ago, Google pushed out a much needed algorithmic update to its search filter, popularly known as the Panda farmer update. This algorithmic update, as you might know, was designed to target content farms and spam sites but the real scenario was very different from theoretical goals as thousands of legitimate publishers saw a big dive in their organic traffic. Panda was launched to address “low quality” or “thin” content and being a site wide penalty, this update did not make any exceptions; changing SEO best practices forever.
The reality: Panda is color blind and sees things only in white or black. Either your site falls entirely in the Panda pit or you are never affected at all. There is no hanging in the middle, pure binary stuff.
The most frustrating thing regarding Panda is that it is a rolling update and the iterations are manually pushed. You can’t expect results overnight. You have to patiently make a change, wait for 90 days, see if your changes were noticed by Google and move on to make the next change. If your site was affected by any of Google’s Panda iterations, you know how difficult it is to arrive at conclusions. There are a lot of factors, some examples:
- Site design, architecture, navigation and usability.
- Advertisements – how much is too much?
- Content quality – the definition of “Good content”, “Shallow content”, “thin content” and “poor content”.
- Content exclusivity – why does your website even exist?
- Links / Social signals.