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Google Panda 4.2 Update – 3 Things Businesses Should Know

On 17th July 2015 Google, announced an algorithm change called Panda 4.2 as part of its eternal mission to improve the quality of search results it serves to its users.

It’s still unclear how big a deal this is, but one things for certain, it’s taking time to roll out, making it difficult to assess the impact to the performance of websites.

Still… it’s worth knowing a thing or two about Panda 4.2, to find out if your website could be affected in the coming months.

So, what do we know about Panda 4.2?

Despite its ambiguity, there are three concrete facts that have been released from Google:

1. It’s part of the Panda update evolution

Google Panda. Heard of it? No crime if you haven’t. Google lingo can be terribly confusing for businesses. But it is a good start to know the difference between a black and white fluffy animal from China and a complex algorithm designed to filter our poor quality web results.

The original Google Panda update was first released in February 2011 – an algorithm designed by Google’s secret team of search gurus, to lower the rank of ‘low quality’ website results, thus naturally promoting sites with good quality content.

What makes a low quality site?

No-one but Google knows the exact definition of that, but a combination of information pulled from Google’s best practice guidelines and results from analysis of sites that have been affected, suggest that some of the following are considered big no-no’s in the web marketing world:

Video: Matt Cutts Talks Google Panda Basics

The Panda evolution has given web content a huge shakeup over the past four years and is only likely to become more stringent. If your web content is in need of an overhaul, act now.

An embarrassment of Pandas

Yes, ‘embarrassment’ is the collective noun for a group of Pandas. An embarrassment too if you’ve been penalised by any of the Panda updates.

So exactly how many Panda updates are there? Actually there are a lot, most of which are refreshes rather than major updates.

Each of the Panda updates or refreshes tackle quality of content, with each being a more sophisticated version of the last, to keep webmasters like us on our toes.

2. 2-3% of search queries are affected

What this means is that a maximum of 3% of English language search queries, or ‘keywords’ users search Google for are affected by this update. This might not sound like many, but there is no pattern to what type of industry this affects, which is a bit like playing a digital game of Russian Roulette.

How do I know if my website has been affected by Panda 4.2?

If you’ve been hit by the Panda update, or ‘Panda-slapped’ as it’s termed, there will be a sudden, noticeable decline in traffic, with no apparent reason as to why. Panda slaps are unforgiving –probably as unforgiving as actually being smacked by a giant, bamboo-eating bear.

Unfortunately if you have been caught, you’ll have to ride out the storm. The algorithm may be slow to roll out in terms of the ripple of effects but the penalties have already been decided. Which brings us to our final point:

3. It’s not too late to recover

OK, so you won’t be able to turn your performance around until the next Panda update, but if you make the right changes now, you will have a chance to emerge when Panda evolves once more. Sites have experienced this reverse pattern during previous updates, so it’s worth investing the time now.

What can I do to fight the Panda?

Invest time in improving your content. Penalty or no penalty, it’s worth making sure your site adheres to Google’s best practice. The evolution of Panda is only going to see the algorithm grow more and more sophisticated, promoting sites that have been pampered by time and resources to promote incredible content.

Be proactive, not reactive. Proactive could save a slap. Reactive means months of recovery.

The last word

Granted, it takes time, patience and effort but there is no short-cut to great results. Google favours hard graft and ‘white-hat’ techniques. Any ‘black-hat’ practices to cheat the system are likely to damage your site further.

You get out what you put in. And website marketing is no different.

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