A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update: 2011-21

Google Panda first launched in February 2011 as a part of Google’s quest to eradicate black hat website positioning techniques and webspam.

At the time, consumer complaints about the growing affect of “content farms” had grown rampant.

Along got here the Panda algorithm to assign pages a top quality classification, used internally and modeled after human high quality rankings, which was integrated as a rating issue.

Fast ahead to 2021, and now you can see how necessary it was as Google’s first step to give attention to high quality and consumer expertise.

Here’s the whole lot you want to find out about Google Panda – extra on why it was launched, what you want to find out about the algorithm, and a whole timeline.

Why Google Created Panda

In 2010, the falling high quality of Google’s search outcomes and the rise of the “content farm” enterprise mannequin turned topics that had been repeatedly making the rounds.

As Google’s Amit Singhal later advised Wired at TED, the “Caffeine” replace of late 2009, which dramatically sped up Google’s skill to index content material quickly, additionally launched “some not so good” content material into their index.


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Google’s Matt Cutts advised Wired this new content material concern wasn’t actually a spam concern, however one among “What’s the bare minimum that I can do that’s not spam?”

ReadWriteWeb identified:

“By the end of [2009], two of these content farms – Demand Media [of eHow infamy] and Answers.com – were firmly established inside the top 20 Web properties in the U.S. as measured by comScore. Demand Media is the epitome of a content farm and by far the largest example of one, pumping out 7,000 pieces of content per day… The company operates based on a simple formula: create a ton of niche, mostly uninspired content targeted to search engines, then make it viral through social software and make lots of money through ads.”

 In January 2011, Business Insider printed a headline that claims all of it: Google’s Search Algorithm Has Been Ruined, Time to Move Back to Curation.

In one other article, they identified:

“Demand [Media] is turning the cleverest trick by running a giant arbitrage of the Google ecosystem. Demand contracts with thousands of freelancers to produce hundreds of thousands of pieces of low-quality content, the topics for which are chosen according to their search value, most of which are driven by Google. Because Google’s algorithm weights prolific and constant content over quality content, Google’s algorithm places Demand content high on their search engine result pages.”


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Undoubtedly, headlines like these considerably influenced Google, which responded by creating the Panda algorithm.

Google Panda Update Launches

Panda was first launched on February 23, 2011.

On February 24, Google printed a weblog publish about the replace, and indicated that they “launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking  – a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries.”

The expressed function of the replace was as follows:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites – sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

Search Engine Land founder Danny Sullivan initially referred to it as the “Farmer” replace. However, Google later revealed that internally it had been referred to as “Panda,” the engineer’s identify who got here up with the major algorithm breakthrough.

Analyses by SearchMetrics and SISTRIX (amongst others) of the “winners and losers” discovered that websites that had been hit the hardest had been fairly acquainted to anyone who was in the website positioning {industry} at the time.

These websites included wisegeek.com, ezinearticles.com, suite101.com, hubpages.com, buzzle.com, articlebase.com, and so forth.

Notably, content material farms eHow and wikiHow did higher after the replace. Later updates would harm these extra “acceptable” content material farms as effectively, with Demand Media shedding $6.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The most readily obvious change in the website positioning {industry} was how closely it hit “article marketing,” during which website positioning practitioners used to publish low-quality articles on websites like ezinearticles.com as a type of hyperlink constructing.

It was additionally clear that the most closely hit websites had much less engaging designs, extra intrusive adverts, inflated phrase counts, low editorial requirements, repetitive phrasing, flawed analysis, and usually didn’t come throughout as useful or reliable.

What We Know About the Panda Algorithm

When Google mentioned the improvement of the algorithm with Wired, Singhal stated that they began by sending check paperwork to human high quality raters who had been requested questions like “Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card? Would you be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids?”


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Cutts stated the engineer had developed “a rigorous set of questions, the whole lot from. ‘Do you consider this site to be authoritative? Would it be okay if this was in a magazine? Does this site have excessive ads?’”

According to the interview, they then developed the algorithm by comparing various ranking signals against the human quality rankings.

Singhal described it as finding a plane in hyperspace that separates the good sites from the bad.

Singhal later released the following 23 questions as guiding questions the algorithm was based on:

  1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  4. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  5. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  6. Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  7. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  8. Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  9. How much is quality control done on content?
  10. Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  11. Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  12. Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as a lot consideration or care?
  13. Was the article edited effectively, or does it seem sloppy or rapidly produced?
  14. For a health-related question, would you belief info from this website?
  15. Would you acknowledge this website as an authoritative supply when talked about by identify?
  16. Does this text present a whole or complete description of the matter?
  17. Does this text include insightful evaluation or fascinating info that’s past apparent?
  18. Is this the kind of web page you’d need to bookmark, share with a pal, or suggest?
  19. Does this text have an extreme quantity of adverts that distract from or intrude with the predominant content material?
  20. Would you count on to see this text in a printed journal, encyclopedia, or guide?
  21. Are the articles brief, unsubstantial, or in any other case missing in useful specifics?
  22. Are the pages produced with nice care and a spotlight to element vs. much less consideration to element?
  23. Would customers complain after they see pages from this website?

It’s additionally a good suggestion to think about what Google’s human high quality raters had been requested to think about. This quote about low-quality content material is critical:

Consider this instance: Most college students have to write papers for highschool or school. Many college students take shortcuts to save effort and time by doing a number of of the following:

  • Buying papers on-line or getting another person to write for them.
  • Making issues up.
  • Writing shortly, with no drafts or modifying.
  • Filling the report with massive footage or different distracting content material.
  • Copying the complete report from an encyclopedia or paraphrasing content material by altering phrases or sentence construction right here and there.
  • Using generally identified details, for instance, “Argentina is a country. People live in Argentina. Argentina has borders.”
  • Using plenty of phrases to talk solely fundamental concepts or details, for instance, “Pandas eat bamboo. Pandas eat a lot of bamboo. Bamboo is the best food for a Panda bear.”


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In March of 2011, website positioning By The Sea recognized Biswanath Panda as the possible engineer behind the algorithm’s namesake.

In one paper, Biswanath helped the writer element how machine studying algorithms could possibly be used to make correct classifications about consumer conduct on touchdown pages.

While the paper will not be about the Panda algorithm, the writer, with its namesake’s involvement, and the subject material, means that Panda can also be a machine-learning algorithm.

Most in the website positioning {industry} had concluded that Panda works through the use of machine studying to make correct predictions about how people would fee the high quality of content material. What is much less clear is what indicators would have been integrated into the machine studying algorithm to decide which internet sites had been low in high quality and which weren’t.

Panda and Google E-A-T:

In 2014 Google launched E-A-T ideas in its search high quality tips targeted on Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.

Since 2018 these ideas have change into increasingly more of a spotlight for entrepreneurs.

A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update: 2011-21

Like Panda, consequent updates and core algorithmic modifications give attention to the high quality of content material and the consumer expertise.


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And like Panda, the focus is on avoiding:

  • Thin and non-informational content material.
  • Lack of authoritative sources.
  • Untrustworthy content material and questionable hyperlinks.

Google Panda Recovery

The path to restoration from Panda might be each easy and difficult.

Since Panda boosts the efficiency of web sites with content material that it categorizes as having high-quality, the answer is to improve the high quality and uniqueness of your content material.

While that’s simpler stated than accomplished, it’s been confirmed repeatedly that that is precisely what is required to get better.

Alan Bleiweiss helped a website get better by aiding them in rewriting content material throughout 100 pages.

Wiredwebsite positioning helped a website get better from Panda by altering their user-generated content material tips to encourage extra particular, distinctive bios slightly than ones copied from different websites. Users of the website had beforehand used bios from their different websites. Still, Wiredwebsite positioning inspired them to change the bio to ask particular questions, leading to distinctive bios that weren’t duplicates.


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Google Panda Myths

Panda Isn’t About Duplicate Content

The most pervasive fantasy about Panda is that it’s about duplicate content material. John Mueller has clarified that duplicate content material is independent of Panda. Google staff have careworn that Panda encourages distinctive content material, however this goes deeper than avoiding duplication. What Panda is in search of is genuinely distinctive info that gives excellent worth to customers.

Mueller likewise advised one blogger that eradicating technical duplicates was truly a really low precedence and that they need to as an alternative “think about what makes your website different compared to the absolute top site of your niche.”

In 2021, Google’s John Mueller defined that duplicate content material will not be a destructive rating issue.

Should You Delete Content to Resolve Panda Issues?

In 2017, Google’s Gary Illyes said on Twitter: “We don’t recommend removing content in general for Panda, rather add more HighQ stuff.”

John Mueller stated likewise on YouTube:

“Overall, the quality of the site should be significantly improved so we can trust the content. Sometimes what we see with a site like that will have a lot of thin content, maybe there’s content you are aggregating from other sources, maybe there’s user-generated content where people are submitting articles that are kind of low quality, and those are all the things you might want to look at and say what can I do; on the one hand, hand if I want to keep these articles, maybe prevent these from appearing in search. Maybe use a noindex tag for these things.”


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Google’s response has at all times been to both noindex or enhance content material — by no means to reduce it totally except doing so is a transfer for branding.

In common, deleting content material needs to be a consideration when it comes to the total branding of your website, slightly than a transfer that may take away a Panda penalty.

Panda & User-Generated Content

Panda doesn’t goal user-generated content material particularly. Although Panda can goal user-generated content material, it tends to impression websites that produce low-quality content material – comparable to spammy visitor posts or boards crammed with spam.

A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update: 2011-21

Do not take away your user-generated content material, whether or not it’s boards, weblog feedback, or article contributions, merely since you heard it’s “bad” or marketed as a “Panda proof” answer. Look at it from a top quality perspective as an alternative.


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Many high-ranking websites depend on user-generated content material – so many websites would lose vital visitors and rankings just because they eliminated that sort of content material. Even feedback made on a weblog publish could cause it to rank and even get a featured snippet.

Word Count Isn’t a Factor

Word rely is one other facet of Panda that website positioning professionals usually misunderstand. Many websites make the mistake of refusing to publish any content material except it’s above a sure phrase rely, with 250 phrases and 350 phrases usually cited. Instead, Google recommends you consider what number of phrases the content material wants to achieve success for the consumer.

For instance, there are numerous pages on the market with little or no predominant content material, but Google thinks the web page is high quality sufficient that it has earned the featured snippet for the question. In one case, the predominant content material was a mere 63 phrases, and lots of would have been hard-pressed to write about the matter in a non-spammy manner that was 350+ phrases in size. So you solely want sufficient phrases to reply the question.


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Affiliate Links & Ads Aren’t Directly Targeted

Affiliate websites and “made for AdSense” websites are sometimes hit by Panda extra usually than different websites, however this isn’t as a result of it particularly targets them. A Google spokesperson advised TheSEMPost that

“An extreme example is when a site’s primary function is to funnel users to other sites via ads or affiliate links, the content is widely available on the internet, or it’s hastily produced, and is explicitly constructed to attract visitors from search engines.”

Mueller stated, equally:

“But at the same time, we see a lot of affiliates who are basically just lazy people who copy and paste the feeds that they get and publish them on their websites. And this kind of lower quality content, thin content, is something that’s really hard for us to show in search.”

In different phrases, these websites are being hit for the identical causes: they fail to present compelling, distinctive, partaking content material.


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Panda virtually actually has the most intensive public document of public dates for its related updates. Part of the motive for that is that Panda was run externally from Google’s core algorithm, and content material scores had been, in consequence, solely affected on or close to the date of latest Panda updates.

This continued till June 11, 2013, when Cutts stated at SMX Advanced that, whereas Panda was not integrated immediately into Google’s core algorithm, its information was up to date month-to-month and rolled out slowly over the course of the month, ending the abrupt industry-wide impacts related to Panda updates.

Hence Panda mentions disappearing after 2017.

The numbering conference is considerably complicated.

One would count on core updates to Panda’s algorithm to correspond to 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0, however no replace is referred to as 3.0, and three.1 was not, on reflection, a core replace to Panda.

Data refreshes, which up to date the search outcomes however not the Panda algorithm itself, had been sometimes numbered as you’d count on for software program updates (3.2, 3.4, 3.5, and so forth). However, there have been so many information refreshes for model 3 of the algorithm that, for a time, this naming conference was deserted, and the {industry} referred to them just by the whole rely of Panda updates (each refreshes and core updates).


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Even after getting a deal with on this naming conference, it nonetheless isn’t totally clear whether or not all of the minor Panda updates had been simply information refreshes or if a few of them integrated new indicators as effectively.

A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update: 2011-21

Regardless, the timeline of Panda updates is, at the very least, well-known and is as follows:

  • 1.0: February 23, 2011. The first iteration of a then-unnamed algorithm replace was launched (12 % of queries had been impacted), surprising the search engine marketing {industry} and lots of huge gamers and successfully ending the “content farm” enterprise mannequin because it existed at the time.
  • 2.0 (#2): April 11, 2011. The first replace to the core Panda algorithm. This replace integrated extra indicators, comparable to websites that Google customers had blocked.
  • 2.1 (#3): May 9, 2011. The industry-first known as this Panda 3.0, however Google clarified that it was only a information refresh, as can be true of the 2.x updates to come.
  • 2.2 (#4): June 21, 2011
  • 2.3 (#5): July 23, 2011
  • 2.4 (#6) International: August 12, 2011. Panda was rolled out internationally for all English-speaking international locations and non-English talking international locations aside from Japan, China, and Korea.
  • 2.5 (#7) and Panda-Related Flux: September 28, 2011. Following this replace, on October 5, 2011, Cutts introduced to “expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks.” Confirmed flux dates had been October 3 and October 13.
  • 3.0 (#8): October 19, 2011. Google added some new indicators into the Panda algorithm and likewise recalculated how the algorithm impacted web sites.
  • 3.1 (#9): November 18, 2011. Google introduced a minor refresh, impacting lower than 1 % of searches.
  • 3.2 (#10): January 18, 2012. Google confirmed an information refresh occurred on this date.
  • 3.3 (#11): February 23, 2012. A information refresh.
  • 3.4 (#12): March 23, 2012
  • 3.5 (#13): April 19, 2012
  • 3.6 (#14): April 27, 2012
  • 3.7 (#15): June 8, 2012. A information refresh that rating instruments recommend was extra heavy-hitting than different latest updates.
  • 3.8 (#16): June 25, 2012
  • 3.9 (#17): July 24, 2012
  • 3.9.1 (#18): August 20, 2012. A comparatively minor replace that marked the starting of a brand new naming conference assigned by the {industry}.
  • 3.9.2 (#19): September 18, 2012
  • #20: September 27, 2012. A comparatively massive Panda replace additionally marked the starting of one more naming conference. The {industry} acknowledged the awkwardness of the 9.x.x naming conference and acknowledged that updates to what they known as Panda 3.0 may proceed to happen for a really very long time.
  • #21: November 5, 2012
  • #22: November 21: 2012
  • #23: December 21, 2012. A barely extra impactful information refresh.
  • #24: January 22, 2013
  • #25: March 14, 2013. This replace was pre-announced, and instruments recommend it occurred on roughly at the present time. Cutts appeared to recommend that this is able to be the last replace earlier than Panda can be integrated immediately into the Google algorithm. However, it later turned clear that this wasn’t fairly what was occurring.
  • “Dance”: June 11, 2013. This will not be the date of an replace. Still, the day Cutts clarified Panda wasn’t going to be integrated immediately into the algorithm, however slightly that it could replace month-to-month with a lot slower rollouts, slightly than the abrupt information refreshes of the previous.
  • “Recovery”: July 18, 2013. This replace seems to have been a tweak to right some overly harsh Panda exercise.
  • 4.0 (#26): May 19, 2014. A main Panda replace (impacting 7.5 % of queries) occurred on this date. Most in the {industry} imagine that this was an replace to the Panda algorithm, not only a information refresh, particularly in gentle of Cutts’ statements about gradual rollouts.
  • 4.1 (#27): September 23, 2014. Another main replace (impacting 3 to 5 % of queries) included some modifications to the Panda algorithm. Due to the gradual rollouts, the actual date is unclear, however the announcement was made on September 25.
  • 4.2 (#28): July 17, 2015. Google introduced a Panda refresh that will take months to roll out. Due to the gradual nature of the rollout, it’s unclear how substantial the impression was or exactly when it occurred. It was the last confirmed Panda replace.
  • Core Algorithm Incorporation: January 11, 2016. Google confirmed that Panda had been integrated into the core Google algorithm, evidently as a part of the gradual July 17, 2015 rollout. In different phrases, Panda is not a filter utilized to the Google algorithm after it does its work however is integrated as one other of its core rating indicators. It has been clarified, nevertheless, that this doesn’t imply the Panda classifier acts in real-time.

 Panda Today: 2021

A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update: 2011-21

Panda is now firmly embedded in Google’s machine studying algorithms, and in consequence, Panda-related updates received’t be seen as standalone.


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With Panda changing into part of Google’s core algorithm, we not see separate Panda updates. Core algorithm updates – particularly people who have a give attention to high quality and content material – are ‘Panda’ associated in idea.

Moving Forward

In 2021, it is best to maintain the core ideas of Panda high of thoughts.

Avoid black hat techniques and spam hyperlinks and give attention to high quality content material for the consumer and their expertise. Google’s use of machine studying and know-how continues to adhere to these ideas.

The identify Panda might not seem, however the Panda ideas are nonetheless related immediately.

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