What the Panda 4.1 Update Means for Your Website

Brett Suddreth

A few weeks ago, Google began rolling out the Panda 4.1 update. Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look at how this update affected the world of organic search and SEO in general.

This update, just like previous Panda updates, focused on websites with “shallow” content.
In terms of sites affected by this update, the biggest losers were PRWeb and PRNewswire, which lost up to 70% of their search engine traffic.

Gaming and music lyric sites, as well as some medical portals also saw sizeable drops in the search engines. That’s not surprising, since most of the content on those sites is fairly shallow. It looks like ‘news’ sites saw the biggest gains.

At the core of the update was a set of new signals that allow Google to detect low quality content (same as with Panda Update 4.0). It’s important to remember that the signals are both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative signals are based on content and site structure. Qualitative signals are based on user behavior.

Google’s goal is to find sites with unique and rich content – this is where it uses quantitative signals to help return the most relevant results (in their opinion). Websites with content that provides added value for the user will have a good chance at seeing an increase in their rankings. Google then uses these user signals and weighs the results against a group of other results.

We’re now seeing patterns of sites with poor user experience receiving below-average user behavior scores, which is leading to a drop in keyword rankings. This is due primarily to Google’s practice of using both signals to determine which results are the most relevant for the searcher based on their query.

What all these Panda updates tell us is that we need to continue to build and evolve websites so that they have deep, relevant and useful content for the users, as well as promote positive user behavior (basically giving the user what they are looking for). Bold idea, huh?

Until next time, keep on searching.

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