Despite the fact that Google makes continual changes to its search engine algorithm, every now and again it will introduce a major update, which can dramatically change the landscape of SEO. Panda 4.0 began rolling out on 20th May 2014 and has already caused happiness for some and heartbreak for others.
The majority of updates and adjustments have been widely predicted by the search community, but it is still incredibly important to recognise these algorithm changes and alter website content or SEO strategies accordingly.
What are the major changes?
Aggregated content has been penalised
With its Panda update, Google has decided to punish those that collate and compile content from other sites, known as aggregating. This is an increasingly popular trend online and sites like Buzzfeed have thrived with aggregated content.
However, if this is no longer a sustainable SEO technique, a different approach may be required. Having said that, Buzzfeed actually managed to gain traffic with the update, as there are additional aspects of Panda 4.0 that apply to sites with aggregated content.
Thin content has been punished
Another content driven change, Panda 4.0 has penalised sites with not much going on. This may be down to a poor URL structure or an SEO strategy that doesn’t take content too seriously.
Even though a tightly hierarchical URL structure provides a more organised and logical browsing experience, Google has frowned upon category pages with a lack of substantial content. For example, eBay’s organic traffic numbers dropped by a massive 33 per cent due to thin content on several category pages.
High quality content has been rewarded
You could have probably predicted this before the update was released, but Panda 4.0 has rewarded those with useful, respected and lengthy user-friendly content.
This becomes even more apparent when you look at the type of sites that have benefitted from the change. Traffic numbers for medical, cooking and blog sites, which would naturally feature in-depth content of considerable length, have risen exponentially.
How can your site react?
Take your time but do some research
Seeing as the major changes are somewhat expected, there is no real need to get overly concerned about on-page updates or alterations. So take a step back, do a bit of research and see what overriding conclusions the industry comes up with. After that, you can make changes accordingly.
Look at your analytics and examine traffic numbers
Panda 4.0 might not affect your site at all, but it is a good idea to look at analytics since the official release. However, try not to make hasty conclusions, as algorithms often take a bit of time to have an impact.
From 19th May onwards, see whether your traffic went up or down over the following five to ten days. Small margins below 5 per cent probably shouldn’t be taken into account, but anything above this could be because of Panda 4.0.
Regardless of whether you won or lost with Panda 4.0, think of this latest update as an opportunity to improve and optimise your respective SEO and content marketing strategies.