Last month we learned that Google incorporated the now notorious Panda algorithm into it’s core algorithm. The news ignited the digital marketing community with theories of what impact this could have for the future of SEO. Today we will jump into Panda’s history and what potential impact this core algorithm change might have.
We have known for a long time that Google wants to show high quality and unique content to it’s users. Up until last month they had regulated the quality of the content showing up in their search results through updates to their Panda algorithm. This algorithm, originally released in 2011, would penalize websites that produced low quality or thin content. This meant that websites that could rank just for having matching keywords, but no real depth to their pages, would be pushed down in the search results. Examples of low quality or thin content include duplicating the same text on multiple pages, having thousands of pages with little to no content, or keyword stuffing. As the years have gone by Google has continued to refine the Panda algorithm to dive even deeper into regulating low quality and thin content.
The industry learned about the change from a guide on Google Panda that was posted by Jennifer Slegg who had been working in conjunction with Google’s PR team. In the guide there was a statement that said Panda was now included in Google’s core ranking algorithm,
“Panda is an algorithm that’s applied to sites overall and has become one of our core ranking signals. It measures the quality of a site, which you can read more about in our guidelines. Panda allows Google to take quality into account and adjust ranking accordingly.”
This statement was later confirmed on Twitter by Gary Illes a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google. In his string on Twitter we also learned that Google Panda does not update in real time within the core algorithm as many people theorized.
For now the impact of the change is relatively small, as it hasn’t had a major impact on search results so far. However it could have future impacts on how Google works with Panda.
Depending on how Google handles the change it could mean that Google will no longer confirm Panda updates. This has become more of a trend with Google as they have increasingly given smaller amounts of information to the public regarding their search algorithm updates. This step of moving Panda into the core could give them even more reason to not update us on changes as it is lumped into the core algorithm rather than a stand alone algorithm.
The bigger potential impact of this change is that Panda updates at some point could become real time changes. This could have two impacts the first being that any adjustments to how Google treats quality issues would happen immediately instead of being rolled out over months. The other potential impact is that Google could allow websites that had been in a penalty and fixed their issues to be reconsidered in real time as well. Currently, websites caught in a Panda penalty can send in a reconsideration request, but many times they have to wait for a new Panda update to see the benefits of those changes. This is just a theory as Google obviously can chose who they handle these things. For now as I explained earlier the Panda portion of the core algorithm is not updating in real time, but as Google moves closer and closer to machine learning we can expect every aspect of its algorithm to eventually move to real time updates as well.