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Google's Panda 4.0 Update And What It Means

There has been conversations the last couple weeks around forums and industry sites about various fluctuations in traffic, both good and bad, and the writings on the walls of an upcoming update. Google remained silent on the matter until yesterday when Matt Cutts released this tweet debuting Panda 4.0…

Panda 4.0 Launched

In the easiest breakdown of what the Panda algorithm affects revolves around thin and low quality content, and knocking sites comprised of those attributes down. Panda hates spam; what Panda wants at the top of the SERPs is quality content that serves a purpose to the user searching for it, in turn rewarding websites that feature those attributes.

Panda 4.0, which is reported to affect roughly 7.5% of all English search queries, is the latest update of the Panda algorithm that came in February of 2011. Since Panda was released, there have been over 25 updates, however, Google decided to name this latest update Panda 4.0.

So What Does It All Mean?

As stated before, Google’s Panda algorithm revolves around rewarding sites with high quality content and knocking down sites with low quality spammy content. As long as you are developing content that abides by giving users a quality and informative experience about your industry or focus of your site, you should be okay.

If you are throwing up content that has no real focus or lacks any real substance, Google doesn’t want you as part of their search product. And who can blame them? Let’s not forget Google’s mission…

Focus on the “useful”, and you will be just fine.

Where Can I Start?

It’s been referenced a thousand times and beyond, but there is a great post by Amit Singhal of Google that breaks down what they view as a high quality content site. You can read that post here.

One thing I would HIGHLY suggest you start doing, not only when updates hit, is going through your content and finding what is either lacking, thin, or has relatively high bounce rates, and begin to clean or beef the content up in a natural way, or lose it altogether. Watch your properties for the next few days, see what was hit the hardest, and begin to build a strategy. Remember what Google says, don’t build for a search engine, build for the user and their ultimate benefit of the content you’re providing.


While this update isn’t just a data refresh (that happens monthly), and was publicly announced – this doesn’t mean you should worry about algorithms updates as a focus for your content. Sure, updates affect how your website performs in the SERPs and they have a huge effect on your business, but if you are providing a quality experience that provides real solutions or information to the user that finds your site, then updates and algorithms will only benefit you.

Once you start writing content that in your mind hangs in the balance of a future update or refresh, you’ve missed the point of those updates altogether. Google developed these updates because they want to provide a quality experience for their users. Again, quality. Not quantity. Start focusing on your users, what they want, what they find beneficial, and how you get it out them, and soon updates will be your best friend.

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About the author

Joe Stoffel

Joe knows what it takes to drive SEO results. He is an experienced SEO specialist who currently leads the SEO department and strategy at Marcel Digital.