On or about May 20, Google launched a the fourth “major” Panda algorithm update. (Google often rolls out updates before confirming that they are doing so.) Although there have been literally dozens of Panda updates, this is considered to be one of the more significant ones. Panda updates refer to how Google evaluates content on the website. Google spokesman Matt Cutts described Panda 4.0 in this way, “think of it like P4 is a new architecture. Brings in some of the softer side, but also lays groundwork for future iteration.”
Observers note that this update appears to generally soften the penalties imposed in dozen or so Panda 3 updates, though actually increasing the penalties for duplicate content. Panda 4.0 has effected approximately 7.5% of search results.
So what does this mean for you and your website? First of all, duplicate content, which has always been an issue, is an even bigger deal now. Make sure that your content is unique, with only small sections directly quoting outside sources on any given page. The more unique content you have on your site the better. Second of all, make sure that your unique content gets indexed by Google first. Don’t let anyone else beat you to getting credit for your own content. Finally, and note that the most important thing Google is telling us is the last phrase in Matt Cutts description, that Panda 4.0 “lays groundwork for future iteration.” The direction they are heading with Panda 4.0 is a direction Google intends to follow for a while. In other words, if you found a significant drop in your rankings the week of May 20, it is time to take a good hard look at your content. If you saw a positive boost, or little change, keep adding quality, unique content. Check on your results, because unless it is carefully managed, this could be the start of a Panda trend.
Written By: Derrick DeYarman – Director of SEO