Google has rolled out two algorithmic updates, Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0, ending the speculations about a major update. The search engine giant had denied any update on May 13th. However, Matt Cutts’ tweets on May 20 confirmed the rolling out of the ranking update. Needless to say, search engine marketers and search engine optimization specialists are closely watching their impact and preparing to adjust to the changes to maintain SERPs in Google.
While Panda 4.0 is the latest update of Google’s revolutionary algorithm, Panda which was released in 2011, Payday Loan 2.0 is the first update of the Payday Algorithm it launched a year ago (June 11, 2013) which had impacted 0.3% of U.S. queries. Let’s take a closer look at these updates.
- Panda 4.0 – While the initial Panda update hit sites with duplicate content, scraped content from other sites, or content deemed sub-standard by Google, it had a disproportionately significant impact on small businesses. During the ‘Meet the Search Engines’ session at SMX West in March 2014, Matt Cutts announced his team was working on a newer generation Panda that would soften the algorithm and help small businesses to get better search results. Now, the softer update is here and expected to affect 7.5% of English queries (affecting different languages at different rates). Industry experts suggest rather than just a data refresh, Panda 4.0 must be a major update to the actual Panda algorithm with changes made as to how Panda identifies sites.
- Payday Loan 2.0 – This update specifically targets very spammy queries associated with excessive web spams (for example, payday loans, accident claims, insurance). Typically, low quality sites appear on search results for these types of queries. With this update, Google intends to prevent this from happening. Like the Panda update, Payday Loan 2.0 appears to be an internal rollout and affects different languages at different degrees. English queries are supposed to be affected by about 0.2% to a noticeable degree.
Searchmetrics, which monitors ranking regularly, published a list of initial Panda 4.0 winners and losers on their blog post. It was found that bigger sites like eBay lost a tremendous amount of traffic post Panda 4.0. Overall, their analysis revealed that the winners had written their own content while the losers showed syndicated or even duplicate content. It was also found that Payday-Loan losers can be identified easily as the URL will be completely removed from the index.
Search engine marketing experts suggest the following solutions to ensure these updates don’t affect your site negatively:
- Make sure your content is unique and original with all on-site content relevant to customer needs
- Avoid overusing keywords and be cautious while using exact-keyword anchor text in external sites
- Resolve duplicate issues result from subdomains
- Use rel=canonical tags, re-direction rules and other techniques proactively to eliminate duplicate content
- Use href=”lang” html code to avoid duplicate content issues while serving site to international markets
- Use Google Webmaster Tools effectively