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Panda 4.1 Update: The Empire Strikes Back at Content

Panda Update 4.1

The Pandas keep coming

Google’s most recent Panda 4.1 update aims at continuing Google’s never-ending battle with low-quality online content. The results are good news for high-quality small to medium sized sites, who should see their rankings increase. Google’s Pierre Far estimates that 3-5% of google searches should be affected.

Winners and Losers

Looking at those sites we see some serious winners and some serious losers. Sites ranking numbers have gone down by as much as 79% and up as much as 135% according to Search Metrics! If you’re worried, just remember this is good news for high-quality content providers:

  • on the whole those hit hardest have been game, lyric, and some medical sites
  • news and content sites are seeing serious gains

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Even if you are one of the sites seeing a decreased search rank as a result of Panda 4.1 keep in mind there are plenty of things you can do. For some examples, check out how author Brandon M. Dennis dealt with his own devastation and recovery.

How to recover from Panda 4.1 update

1. Compare landing page traffic before and after the update (Sept 25, 2014)
2. See which pages lost most traffic
3. Investigate those pages:

  • Do you have your content above the fold and users see it immediately?
  • Is your content hard to find because of all size of banners flashing?
  • Is your content the best thing users can find on the web on the topic?
  • What extra information can you add? – a few more paragraphs explaining things in more details, examples from your experience,  images that catch user attention, a small infographic, embedded video are among the many possibilities here.

Our team opinions about Panda 4.1 below:

Hop Online’s Verdict

Kate, Managing directorKate Proykova, Managing director:
“We already started working on ‘thin content’ improvements for our clients. Pages of 200 or less words definitely need an update. If you spend some time in keyword research and incorporate it into your content, you can even earn extra traffic from these efforts.”


Kristina, SEO expertKristina Maglova, SEO expert:
”The latest Panda update included some new signals that should help identify low-quality content more precisely. With content quality scores being recalculated, now is your chance to shine by featuring high-quality content on your website. Keep in mind that your content should be based on a thorough keyword research revolving around user demand, keyword competition and conversion rates.”


Tihomir, SEO leadTihomir Ivanov, SEO lead:
“Google Panda 4.1 again shows how important is to be prepared. This update will affect 3-5% of the queries. You might think ‘That’s nothing – I’m safe.’ However consider this: earlier this year Google announced they have 100 billion searches per month, so 4.1 will affect 3 to 5 billion searches. Still think you’re safe? Maybe you’re not hit this time but the next update is coming. Do your homework and start working on unique and expert content.”


Rossi, project managerRositsa Tsanova, Project manager:
“What is important for Panda 4.1 update is that according to Google it will boost the rankings of small and medium-sized sites which provide relevant and high-quality content. This will result in wider variety of websites succeeding on fairer grounds.”

A Bright New Future, One Panda and Penguin at a Time

Russ Jones from the Moz Blog summarized things well when he said “I wish I didn’t have to say this. I wish I could look in the eyes of every victim of the last Penguin 4.1 update and tell them it was something new, something unforeseeable, something out of their control. I wish I could tell them that Google pulled a fast one that no one saw coming. But I can’t.” Russ hit the nail on the head here. This is exactly the kind of event which shows why SEO shouldn’t be something thrown to the office interns. We at Hop Online knew this kind of an update was coming and are ready to adapt. It’s best not to mention how those office interns have coped.

On that note, we’re keeping our eyes on the next big thing on the horizon: Penguin. Almost a year in the works and expected to release before the end of the year. But whereas Panda was largely about punishing purveyors of bad content, Google says Penguin should be focused on making webmasters’ lives easier.

If Panda 4.1 has you reeling, remember, we’re here to help. Check out our Google Penalty Recovery page to find out what we can do for you, or get in touch straight away, using our contact form.

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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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