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The Panda 4.1 Update: Who it Helps, Who it hurts, and Helpful Tips for Webmasters

Jason Roy

Just four months after the release of Panda 4.0, Panda 4.1 is here. The update is said to affect 3%-5% of the search queries, and its main focus…quality content of course!

Content quality is nothing new, Google has been trying to remove all the redundant, irrelevant, and spam-like content from its searches for a while now, but this new update is supposed to help identify low-quality content more precisely than before.

This new 4.1 update seems to be rather small in comparison to the larger 4.0 update from Panda, but do not let the size fool you, small things can offer a hard-hitting punch. The 27th update uses webmasters and user feedback that helped to uncover a few more signals that are now being used to filter out low-quality content from the top search queries.

One of the great things about the update, small and medium-sized websites seem to be the most positively affected!

How Will the Panda 4.1 Update Affect Your SEO?

There are still thousands, possibly millions of websites out there that offer poor quality content, and each of them competes for top rankings within the search engines against your business. With the recent updates, this new one included, the search engine giant is working towards removing them entirely from the search results…, which means less competition for your business. These low-level spammy websites that have loads and loads of poor quality or irrelevant content have been targeted not only by Google but by Google users and webmasters from all over the world.

Now, there are several websites that are being targeted as losers by wisestartupblog.com, and some of them are quite surprising! 

So, what is learned here is that publishing content for the sole purpose of gaining traffic is a big no-no! Sites that do not care about their user experience, and are only concerned about impressions and clicks for ads through search engine-generated traffic are taking serious hits. That is not to say the sites above are all working that angle, many of them like Ezinearticles do take the time to carefully edit articles posted on their site, and do want content that is high quality and useful to the reader.

There are bound to be causalities of this war on poor content, but all change comes with a few casualties, the best you can hope for is that you are not one of them!

As more and more content farms are kicked off the SERPs, real websites with something useful to offer to begin to rank higher…so just make sure you are one of those websites.

Keep an Eye on Your Traffic

If you were impacted by the previous Panda update, there is no need to panic…and if you were not affected by the previous Panda update, there is no room to relax. You need to keep a close eye on your traffic generated through Google. If you notice a change for the worse, start making changes…and if you notice a change for the better, bravo, you are on the right path. Just because the focus is the same on this new update, keep in mind there are different signals being used to trigger thin or weak content, so those previously affected may not be touched this time, while others who escaped the penalties last time may see some serious damage to their traffic flow this time.

Past Panda Updates

This new update is the 27th that Panda has released since the original in February of 2011. If you are wondering when all of these updates occurred, especially since many of them were never announced, and some offered no real change, take a look at the chart below.  

Update
Date
Announced
Search Query Change
Panda 1.0
February 24, 2011
Yes
11.8%
Panda 2.0
April 11, 2011
Yes
2%
Panda 2.0 update
May 10, 2011
No
n/a
Panda 2.0 update
June 15, 2011
No
n/a
Panda 2.0 update
July 23, 2011
No
n/a
Panda 2.0 update
Aug 12, 2011
Yes
6-9% (non-English queries)
Panda 2.0 update
Sept 28, 2011
No
n/a
Panda 3.0
Oct 19, 2011
No
2%
Panda 3.0 update
Nov 18, 2011
Yes
Less than 1%
Panda 3.0 update
Jan 18, 2012
No
n/a
Panda 3.0 update
Feb 27, 2012
Yes
n/a
Panda 3.0 update
March 23, 2012
Yes
1.6%
Panda 3.0 update
April 19, 2012
No
n/a
Panda 3.0 update
April 27, 2012
No
n/a
Panda 3.0 update
June 9, 2012
Yes
1%
Panda 3.0 update
June 25, 2012
Yes
1%
Panda 3.0 update
July 24, 2012
Yes
1%
Panda 3.0 update
Aug 20, 2012
Yes
1%
Panda 3.0 update
Sept 18, 2012
Yes
Less than 0.7%
Panda 3.0 update
Sept 27, 2012
Yes
2.4% (English queries)
Panda 3.0 update
Nov 5, 2012
Yes
1.1%
Panda 3.0 update
Nov 21, 2012
No
0.8% (English queries)
Panda 3.0 update
Dec 21, 2012
Yes
1.3% (English queries)
Panda 3.0 update
Jan 22, 2013
Yes
1.2% (English queries)
Panda 3.0 update
Mar 15, 2013
No
n/a
Panda 4.0
May 20, 2014
Yes
7.5% (English queries)
Panda 4.1
Sept 25, 2014
Yes
3%-5%

This new pattern may suggest that updates should be expected on a quarterly instead of the monthly cycle. That can help webmasters keep track of traffic logs and possibly notice the updates before they are announced. If you have been paying attention to the traffic on your site and the changes that have occurred over the last few years, you know that this list of updates is not completely accurate. There are many updates that have been suspected since 4.0 but were never confirmed.

Who is the Most Affected by This Update?

From an SEO standpoint, the most affected by the update in a negative way are game sites, lyric sites, and even some medical or health-related sites. Small and medium-sized sites that offered unique quality content were given a decent boost in the SERPs.

Some Helpful SEO Tips for the Panda 4.1 Update

Now that the update is here, the only thing you can do is deal with it. Luckily, there are some helpful SEO tips to help you work through the change, although I must say….they are pretty redundant of the past updates and if you were paying attention to the trends, you should have already implemented these changes.

Eliminate Low-Quality Content

This should have been done already, but if you are not sure how to start with these tips:

  • Separate all the auto-generated content and block all the indexing and crawling of low-quality content from your site.
  • If your site has duplicate, overlapping, or irrelevant articles remove them.
  • If your site has several redundant articles that use a variant of keywords, remove them.
  • If your content was mass-produced, outsourced to several writers, or spread across large networks or sites…take the time to audit the content to ensure it is the quality Google wants.
  • If you have short, unsubstantial content that does not offer a helpful tip or answer to a specific question, remove it.
  • If there is content that is written in poor English, contains spelling or grammar errors, remove or repair them.

Focus on Quality

Again, this is something you should have already been doing if you were serious about your business.

Do not copy articles from other sites, try your best to create original, well-thought-out articles that are designed around your viewer’s needs. If you have to gather information from other sites, that is fine…just have your own opinion in the words you use.

Build a Strong Reputation

Your online reputation is a huge part of your success when it comes to your customers, but also when it comes to the Panda algorithm. Trust is built by links being awarded to the article or content, so create high-quality content for a better chance of strong trust-building links surrounding it.

Keep Ads Well Balanced

Yes, we know, part of why you built your site was to generate ad income…but there has to be a balance. It is much better to have higher quality ads, and fewer of them, than it is to have a huge amount of smaller lesser quality ads on your site. Another tip for keeping the Panda happy is to ensure your ads are related to your site topic somehow, so do not throw a bunch of vegan health supplements on your website that offers meat smokers. 

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