What impact has ‘Panda 4.1’ had on the global search ranking landscape?
Back in September, we reported that Google were in the process of rolling out their latest update of their destructive content assessment programme, Panda, speculating that its introduction would pave the way for a more meritocratic ranking system in which small and medium sized businesses would enjoy a larger share of the top page results, rather than their larger counterparts dominating with more content-thin sites.
And in its early stages of functionality, it appears as if the latest update – informally branded ‘Panda 4.1’ by Search Engine Land – has begun to establish parity in the ranking prospects of all the sites it assesses, with initial takeaways from analytics indicating that it is the globe’s bigger businesses who have suffered the heaviest visibility losses.
In an earlier Google + post, Google forecasted the arrival of a leveller playing field in the search ranking landscape, outlining that the latest Panda would seek to penalise larger businesses which had unfairly attained higher ranking positions despite having poorer quality content than some of their smaller contemporaries.
The post read: “Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.”
Google estimated that 3-5% of search queries would be impacted, and upon evaluation of statistics from Searchmetrics describing the affects of Panda on the organic SEO visibility for key domains for all identified keywords, it appears that both their forecasts for the programme have materialised in reality:
The major point of analysis to take from the figures is that the quality and relevancy of a sites page continue to rise in importance to Google, and the websites which exude the impression of an authority within their industry are the ones which are benefiting the most from the latest Panda update.Essentially, all websites which serve as a go-to information point for their niche contemporaries are now ranking higher, irrespective of whether they are a big name or not. This is reflected in the recent success of www.fastcodesign.com and www.simplyrecipes.com, which update their material regularly, have a large amount of quality work available for its readers to access and clearly exhibit the impression of authorities.
As with all of its past incarnations, the latest Panda has dished out the heaviest amount of damage to content portals and websites with hollow or low quality content. This is due to the fact that sites such as these usually release saturated or copied content, which makes them a walking target for policing programme such as Panda. When you visit pages such as Yellow.com and Similarsites.com, you can tell that despite their value to users and adherence to their purpose, that nevertheless they have lost such high levels of visibility because they are extremely content thin and do not have a sufficient number of high-quality articles to maintain their previous ranking position.
It is refreshing to see websites such as www.comdotgame.com and www.hongkiat.com enjoy the status as the biggest beneficiaries of the latest Panda Update, because it only takes a few minutes of browsing on their pages to acknowledge that their fervour for producing regular, high quality content for their users warrants the ranking inroads they’ve made.
The revival of www.babble.com – a site which was heavily penalised by the latest Panda update – also signifies that there is both lucrative rewards and salvation available to any websites which have failed to adhere to content standards in the past, and is a proven illustration of how you should go about amending your site if it suffers a penalty.
Another interesting inference to take from the figures is that despite Google’s 3-5% prediction, a higher percentage of queries negatively impacted for the bigger offenders – clearly emphasising the importance of making sure that your site releases regular and useful material for its users that is relevant to your niche.
Clearly, a more meritocratic playing field is beginning to be established by Google when it comes to ranking companies of different sizes within their search results. Their continued commitment to prioritising quality and relevancy over quantity and reputation will be welcome news to the SMEs of the globe, who will now be able to enjoy their fair share of the top page results providing they adhere to quality standards and authority perceptions required to attain such positions under the new Panda update.
Check out our previous article on the Panda update here .