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Understanding Google’s Panda Search Algorithm


October 30, 2016 Posted by Ashley Hart

Google’s search algorithm (the top secret formula it uses to determine how to rank websites in its search engine results) changes all the time. There are manual changes and new ways data is processed. These alterations may affect the core algorithm or impact the branches of Google’s primary algorithm.

How Panda Works

Think of Google’s search algorithm like a tree. There is the primary trunk as well as its branches. Each does the same thing, but differently. One of these is called Panda. It was originally released in 2011 under what some people called the “farmer update,” so dubbed because its focus is on content farms. The Panda update is geared towards lowering the ranking of spam sites and those with low amounts of original content. When the change to the algorithm first debuted, it affected around 12 percent of Google search engine results in the United States.

What Has Changed

However, that was just the beginning. Like the rest of Google’s search algorithm, Panda has gone through several updates over the years, the most recent in October 2016. Under these new changes, Panda “will not devalue, it will actually demote,” explains Gary Illyes of Google. “Panda is not a penalty. It measures the quality of a site pretty much by looking at the vast majority of its pages. Essentially, this allows us to take the quality of the whole site into account when ranking pages from that particular site, then adjust the ranking accordingly for the pages.”

How Panda Affects Your Website

There are a few things you need to know in order for your website to not be “demoted” by Google. The first is that low-value content, like the sort that is copied and appears everywhere, won’t just get you a lower ranking – it won’t rate at all. That means those pages that are deemed low value may be ignored by Google completely. Unique content is going to rank the highest, but you also have to make sure that your content is valuable, authoritative and free from errors. Watch your ads as well. Having too many ads kills your user experience, but it can also ruin your Google search ranking, so keep ads to a minimum.

Panda is just one branch of the Google search algorithm. There are others, like Google Penguin, and to complicate matters Google changes its core algorithm and branches regularly. The best thing you can do to protect your Google search ranking is to stay on top of changes to Google’s algorithm and produce the highest quality website you can manage.

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