Google released an update to their search algorithm last week that was termed Panda 4.1. Before I delve into the specifics, let’s back track a bit.
To serve better ads, Google basically archives the entire internet. Google uses “crawlers” to visit as many sites on the web as possible and these crawlers return the data from these websites to its servers. Within these servers, an algorithm sorts through the raw data to make an educated guess, not only in regards to the topic what a specific site (and URL), but also how that site/URL ranks with regard to other.
Google’s ranking algorithm is heavily guarded, and rightfully so. If an entity were to figure out the search algorithm, the information can be used to game the search engines, allowing a specific site to rank toward the top of the search results for a specific keyword. Just imagine if you owned a website that ranked #1 in Google for the term ‘car insurance.’ You would be a rich individual as this keyword is a highly profitable one with regard to search volume and intent. Every day, there is someone, somewhere trying to manipulate the search engines’ algorithms to maximize profit. By doing this, a person searching for a lucrative keyword would be served a sub-optimal search result. If enough of these searches are returned, a person may lose faith in the search engines’ credibility, and begin to use it less. If I lose faith in Google, I start searching more in Bing and if enough people do this, Google will serve less ads, which will be a big hit to their overall business.
In an effort to fight this manipulation, Google is constantly updating its search algorithm. Google released the first Panda update a few years ago. The update’s main focus was to penalize sites using thin or weak content to gain rankings for specific keywords. Last week, Panda 4.1 was released which penalized sites that may have slipped through the crack from the previous Panda releases. Some have observed that Panda 4.1 affected sites within the gaming and lyrics sites. It has also been said that Panda 4.1 has affected 3-5% of search queries.
You may be wondering if your site has been impacted by this update. Well, there is a way that you may be able to find out. We would recommend taking a look at your analytics tracker from the beginning of the month through today. If you saw a significant dip (around 20 – 30%) you may have been negatively impacted by this update. If that’s the case, you may want to check your Webmaster Tools account to see if there are any warnings. However, if you notice a spike of about 20 – 30% during this time, you may have outperformed other sites in your industry who were getting by using SEO techniques that violated Google’s guidelines. (maybe add in and explain difference between white and black hat stradegies).
If you have been negatively impacted by Panda 4.1 (or any other algorithm update) feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation. We may be able to help turn things around for you.