History of Google Panda

Google Panda History – Who What When Where & Why

Last week Google Panda 2.5 was rolled out making it the seventh iteration of the search engine giant’s algorithm change focused on delivering higher quality search results.

This post is short, simply and and was created for selfish reasons – I needed a collecting point for all things Panda. Information is provided in reverse chronological order. If you are aware of other Google Panda related information and would like me to add it to this post let me know at @brianbluff. Here we go…

Google Panda 2.6 (maybe)

  • Release date: Not out yet. Expected in October 2011.
  • Impact: Anticipate approximately a 2% search result impact.
  •  Target/Purpose: Google did not (has not) say (said). Just another iteration.
  • Reference Links: None yet.
  • Notes: @mattcutts tweeted “Weather report: expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks, but will have less impact than previous updates (~2%).” on 5 October, 2011.

Google Panda 2.5

  • Release date: 28 September, 2011
  • Impact: Not known.
  •  Target/Purpose: Google did not say. Just another iteration.

Google Panda 2.4

  • Release date: 12 August, 2011
  • Impact: All Google search results in all languages with the exception of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Affected 6-9% of non-English search queries/results.
  •  Target/Purpose: Improve the quality of content returned by Google in response to non-English searches.
  • Reference Links:
  • Notes: Google announced that data shows the Panda changes have improved search quality and that response from users have been very positive.

Google Panda 2.3

  • Release date: 23 July, 2011
  • Impact: Minor impact.
  • Target/Purpose: Incorporated new signals to help Google differentiate between high and low quality content.

Google Panda 2.2

  • Release date: 16 June, 2011
  • Impact: Some sites recovered from Google Panda 1.o and others were being hit for the first time.
  • Target/Purpose: Matt Cutts said, Google Panda 2.2 was aimed at improving Google’s ability to identify scrapper sites.
  • Reference Links:
  • Notes: Scrapper sites copy (or scrape) and republish content from other sites. The problem arises when scrapper sites out rank the original content site.

Google Panda 2.1

  • Release date: 10 May, 2011
  • Impact: Minor tweak to Google Panda 2.0. No impact data released by Google.
  • Target/Purpose: Google said this change was much smaller that previous Google Panda changes.

Google Panda 2.0

  • Release date: 11 April, 2011
  • Impact: All English language searches globally. Affected approximately 2% of US search results.
  • Target/Purpose: In addition to expanding Panda 1.0 to all English language search results, Search Engine Land reported that this change leveraged user data relating to user blocked sites.
  • Notes: This change is language dependent not domain dependent – impacted English searches on both www.google.co.uk and www.google.de. There was some evidence that smaller sites were now being impacted to a greater degree than in Google Panda 1.0.

Google Panda 1.0

  • Release date: 24 February, 2011
  • Impact: Affected 12% of US search results. Large sites affected more than smaller sites. Only impacted Google results in the US.
  • Target/Purpose:
    • Decrease the rank of content farms – sites with low-levels of original content.
    • Reduce the amount or shallow or thin content in the search results.
  • Reference Links:
  • Notes: There were no manual changes or exceptions made. Further, there was no blacklist. This was simply an algorithm change that applied spam detection signals to Google’s index. The Panda Algorithm was manually run and therefore recovery from Panda penalties would require site owners to wait until the algorithm was run again and the penalty lifted.

Low quality content indicators

  • Content is not original.
  • Content provides no original thought, it simply repeats the thoughts of other articles.
  • Content does not provide value.
  • Content is not credible or trustworthy.
  • Content is shallow or thin.
  • Page was written by an expert and has depth.
  • Site contains multiple pages all with basically the same content SEO’d for multiple versions of the same basic keyword phrase.
  • Site has a poor navigation structure making if difficult to navigate.
  • Content was written for to rank for a particular keyword phrase, not to solve a user problem.
  • You not recommend the page to a friend or share it?
  • Page is riddled with ads or otherwise focused on making money as opposed to solving a readers problem or providing answers or solutions.
  • Page has poor metrics
    • Bounce rate is high,
    • Time on site is low,
    • Number of pages viewed is low, or
    • Low search engine results page click though rate.
  • Site has a low amount of branded.
  • You would not feel comfortable subimtting your credit card to the site.
  • Site has poorly written content – misspellings and grammer. See Matt Cutts Video

What to do if your site was impacted by Google Panda

  • Think like a web strategist and plan your content development efforts around the needs of users.
  • Improve site design/usability.
  • Reduce number of ads.
  • Remove or improve low quality content.
  • Remove duplicate content or pages with nearly the same content.
  • Review and improve your URL structure.
  • Remove tag clouds (Matt Cutts suggestion).
    • They could be viewed as keyword stuffing (if they contain over 50 to 75 keywords).
    • Populate tag clouds via javascript so that they are not cached.
    • Blocked tag cloud pages from being spidered in your Robots.txt.
    • This should also improve page load time.
    • See video at WebProNews (interview with Dani Horowitz).
  • If you have a site search feature, block all same site serarh results pages in your robots.txt file.
  • If you syndicate content (via an RSS feed) expect that Google will devalue backlinks from subscriber sites. Therefore the original page may lose rank. To improve rank, you’ll need to build backlinks to your best content.
  • Use noindex/nofollow to keep low quality content pages away from the spiders.
  • Consider using subdomains to separate low quality content if appropriate – see “Hubpages Adds Subdomains, Claims Google Panda Recovery, But…
  • Make social sharing buttons more prominent.  Encourage users to share your content.
  • Add user generated content – forums, reviews, comments…
  • Build backlinks to your content. Said differently, build content worthy of being linked to.
  • Read threads and discussions about how people have overcome Panda penalties.
  • Honestly assess the quality of your content against content ranking above your page in the SERPs. Improve your content if found to be of lower quality. Get the opinions of others.
  • Use a site like copyscape.com to determine if your content is original, or has been duplicated elsewhere.
  • Make sure that the page delivers value to the reader.
  • Create new/non-textual content including video.
  • Improve page load speed.