Google Releases Gentler Panda 4.0 Update

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Google’s Panda algorithm is back but this time, it’s a kinder, gentler Panda. While Google is giving minimal details regarding the true nature of the update, as they often do, many sites previously penalized by Panda updates have not seen as severe of a traffic decrease as prior updates. In fact, some of the heavily penalized sites that had great content but other on-page factors that led to de-ranking have actually seen a positive change in traffic following this change.

Panda’s Focus Remains Anti-Spam and Pro-Content

When Panda was first rolled out in February 2011 the goal was to penalize websites with shallow or low-quality content. This included sites with articles filled with popular but unrelated keywords in order to gain search engine favor and sites that obtained their content from content farms, leading to multiple sites with the same duplicate content.

Over the past three years, the Panda algorithm has changed to better define its analysis of what makes good content good and bad content bad. With each update, legitimate sites would sometimes be penalized even though they had unique, quality content and did not engage in any black hat or dishonest SEO practices.

When a site gets trapped by Panda it is pulled down from the top rankings on the search results and must clean up its act or appeal the penalty to show that they do have the type of quality content Google desires. The beauty of rolling updates like Panda, which is now on its 26th update according to Search Engine Land, is that sites that have been penalized by one update have the chance to redeem themselves and enjoy a boost in ranking with the next update.

Is this a kinder, gentler Panda?

google panda 4.0 updateSome SEO experts like Maria Haynes of HIS Web Marketing believe that sites seeing a positive increase following this update may be a signal that Panda has fixed automatic penalties for sites with complex layouts. Many webmasters that manage sites with complex layouts find that the programs that analyze web pages, known as spiders, are often confused by certain site layouts and flag them as low-quality or lacking in content.

“It may be that Google found ways to see past structural issues and recognize the good content as the structural problems would not affect users, just crawlers.” says Haynes according to Search Engine Watch.

It seems that the new Panda update is also relaxing its penalties on small businesses, who may not have low-quality content per se but lack the authority and global strength that big name brand sites have to protect them from algorithm changes.

Google Panda 4.0 and Legal Content Websites

Small business sites like law firms, medical practices, and local stores or services are often the hardest hit sites. Some small businesses turn to cheap content farms where they’re sold a boilerplate article package. Another common situation for small businesses to feel Google penalties is when the owners don’t have the time or resources to devote to consistently generate quality content, leaving their site barren or scarcely populated with scraps of content.

Law firms often suffer the hardest, as there are thousands of legal article sites that often host multiple copies of the same generic legal articles. That being said, Google’s Panda update will continue to penalize attorneys who buy content from article farms and unscrupulous content marketing firms that plagiarize or scrape articles.

The good news for lawyer websites that produce their own rich, unique content or use a professional and honest web content service is that Panda will continue to penalize spammy websites and remove them from the search rankings, freeing up higher slots for their quality sites to fill.

We Do Web Content Never Fears Panda

We Do Web Content knows exactly how to keep pesky Pandas, Penguins, and Hummingbirds at bay – keep providing only 100 percent unique, relevant content to our clients! Our goal is to keep your site ahead of the algorithm game and to never compromise your site with poor content. Contact us today through our contact form or by phone at 888-521-3880 to get a FREE content audit and see how you can protect your site from future algorithm changes.