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Panda 4.0 Roll Out 5-20

googl panda penguin imageAs most Internet professionals have heard by now, Google started rolling out Panda 4.0 on May 20.

Although Panda is refreshed monthly, this is a major update meaning an algorithmic change has been made. For those of you confused about the difference between Penguin and Panda, here is a brief overview of both, followed by a look at how to identify whether or not your site was actually hit by Panda.

GOOGLE PENGUIN

Google Penguin was first announced in April 2012 and it is an algorithm developed to detect and lower the rankings of sites that have manipulative back link profiles. Having a back link profile with a high percentage of exact match anchor texts, having a lot of low-quality links, and having links from article directories and rich anchor text press releases were just a few of the things in the Penguins’ sights. This update shook up the industry because prior to, rich anchor text links where the primary practice for targeting and ranking keywords.

GOOGLE PANDA

Google Panda was rolled out in Feb. 2011. The days following the roll out were shocking to many sites as more than 12 percent of all search results were reported to have been affected by this algorithm. Unlike Penguin, the Panda algorithm was designed to detect websites that have thin or low-quality content and reduce their rankings in the SERPs. While this sounded like good news for quality websites and Googlers alike, the initial version of Panda failed to remove scraper sites from the SERPs and even ranked them above the original sites and to some extent, this is still true today.

In 2012, Google announced that they would also be adding an over-optimization penalty to Panda. This was supposed to help sites with great content rank higher than sites with average content and better SEO, which gave birth to the content marketing craze. Unfortunately like the initial roll out, this update made some improvements but failed to deliver as intended.

Fast forward to May 20, 2014 and Panda 4.0 was released. According to Search Engine Watch, Google stated that about 7.5 percent of English queries may see an impact from this update.

While it is unclear the exact changes made, some industry leaders are speculating that this is the “Softer Panda” update aimed at helping small businesses rank higher that Matt Cutts mentioned back in March of 2014. I have seen data from my own clients that would leave me to believe this is at least part of the update.

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