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Panda’s Entry into Google’s Core Algorithm Explained

panda google algo tips

Ever since it was first rolled out in February 2011, Google’s Panda has been influencing search results with an emphasis on favoring high quality content over thin and low quality content.
A pro tip from Hop Online: don’t read everything out there about Panda.
It’s unlikely you’ll ever get through it. And as with most things on the internet, you certainly shouldn’t believe everything you read.

However, recent news from Google that Panda is now being fully incorporated into Google’s core algorithm means that it’s more essential than ever to get a grip on what Panda means for your site. That’s why we’ve put together a simple, to-the-point list of all the major factors you need to keep an eye on to ensure your site thrives in 2016.

So what do you need to know about what’s become “easily one of the most misunderstood algos”?

What Panda Is and What Panda Is Not

Let’s start with the basics. If any SEO specialist or blogger tells you they know exactly what Panda is, they are lying. While a lot of admirable work has been done to reverse-engineer Panda’s effects by examining how it has affected site rankings, unless you’re working for Google, you can’t be 100% certain.

But here’s the basic outline of what we at Hop Online do know:

It’s Not Really About Duplicate Content

Okay, this doesn’t mean duplicate content is good (hint: it’s not), but it does mean that, as Google’s John Mueller pointed out, Panda penalties and duplicate content penalties are separate issues. Sure, it’s possible that duplicate content reflects a lower general page quality, something which Panda picks up on, but Google itself doesn’t see them as interconnected, as many outsiders do.

It’s a Lot About Thin Content

We’re certain that thin content is an important factor in how Panda evaluates the quality of your page. What we’re a bit uncertain about is whether the best solution is to remove that content or improve its quality. There are strong advocates for each side, but most likely, your best bet is to improve when possible and remove when not. If you want to read more on that, here’s a great discussion piece on the various possibilities.

It’s Absolutely About Quality

The only reason this fact makes it onto the (very) short list of “things we’re 100% sure about in regards to Panda” is that it’s not highly specific. But this should be at the root of anyone’s understanding of what Panda is all about. It’s designed at its core to evaluate the quality of your page and the content on it.

That’s why the most reliable way to please Panda has never been to try to find easy fixes and hacks. If we knew the detailed ins and outs of Panda, easy fixes may have been more effective. Since we’ve never known this, these solutions have been relatively ineffective. If you want to boost your rankings, it’s all about striving for quality and not resorting to shortcuts.

Say Goodbye to Panda Updates and Panda Penalties?

Google moving Panda into its core algorithm means that we will no longer be seeing announcements of major Panda updates rippling through the internet to cause fear and anxiety amongst site owners. However, it has been confirmed by Google’s Gary Illyes that the Panda updates within the algorithm will not be in real-time.

That means that we’re still likely to see changes that feel like the old Panda updates, but these will be simple updates to the core algorithm. Adjust your searches for “new Panda update” accordingly, and, of course, keep an eye on this blog for our analysis of the latest updates.

Where Should You Focus Your Resources?

As we’ve emphasized, your methods should be all about improving quality. But what does that mean? First of all, don’t fall prey to the huge number of specific dos and don’ts you’ll see floating around the internet. If you’re concerned about your rankings, here are our 4 best tips:

1: Don’t Focus On Specific Numbers

Google is not big on sweeping generalizations. If you think, for example, that anything below 300 words is automatically thin content,  Google doesn’t necessarily agree. It’s all about context and value. If you can provide the best text on a subject in 150 words, excellent. Google will likely recognize and reward that fact.

2: Think Like a Human

It warrants repeating that Google’s ultimate goal with its entire ranking system is to create algorithms that can best mimic and predict what humans will find useful and compelling. So if you’re creating great content for humans, you’re also creating great content for Google. We can only expect the gap between the two to narrow as time passes.

3: Monitor Your Rankings Closely

While it’s always a bit difficult to precisely understand what’s happening when your website’s rankings rise or fall, the more closely you keep track of them, the easier it is. Don’t just take a look every few months: make sure you’re on top of the latest updates and how they’re affecting your site.

4: When in Doubt, Call in a Professional (Or at Least a Friend)

While there’s plenty you can do to improve your site’s content on your own, often, a new set of eyes can be tremendously helpful in spotting areas for improvement. While ideally that person should be an SEO professional, even a friend may help you spot an issue that you previously overlooked.

How have you been handling previous Panda updates and how do you see this new core algorithm update affecting your site? Let us know about your thoughts, opinions, and experiences in the comments.

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Eric Halsey

Eric is an American, living in Sofia, Bulgaria. A digital marketing enthusiast and creator of the Bulgarian History Podcast, he is currently putting his skills towards a variety of new projects involving creative writing and history. Eric is also a self taught musician and songwriter, playing original songs in the tradition of American Folk Music on the guitar, mandolin, “banjitar” and harmonica.

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