Last week Google’s Matt Cutts revealed on Twitter that the search engine company will rolling out its newest update, Panda 4.0. So what exactly is this update about?
Panda is another Google algorithm that was launched three years ago, it looks at low quality content around the web and prevents it from being ranked at the top of search results. The algorithm is updated from time to time (Moz.com recently wrote a piece on of all the Panda updates since February 2011 which can be seen here ).
The name is not as cute and cuddly as it may sound, ok, it filters low quality content, it has caused a lot of problems to sites such as Ebay which recently according to one source, Ebay released a paper based on a “large scale field experiment”, the auction site’s theory was that using brand keyword ads in search had no particular value, they concluded for big companies paid ad search doesn’t work and that paid search is more of a strategy to gain first time customers. A few articles mention that their dynamic keyword insertion (as shown below) was linked to being penalised by the recent Panda update.
These ‘spammy’ looking ads which have been known not to be linked with a user’s search and as a result has cost them dearly. Search Engine Land reported that Ebay had lost visibility on keywords that this url http://www.ebay.com/bhp. They mention that out of the 120,000 plus pages on the web that lost their rankings, around 90,000 of those had ‘bhp’ in them.
Although Google has not actually stated that they have penalised Ebay (as they very rarely do state when they have penalised a particular site) we are only left to assume from Ebay’s UX and also their doorway links (basically pages with a minimal amount of content on their site) particularly from non-branded products as WordStream’s Larry Kim found out from doing his own research on the auction bidding site.
As Larry concludes in his recent post on the Ebay issue, these millions of doorway links are spam by anyone’s point of view, you don’t have to have any SEO experience or knowledge to know that. So what have we learnt in the passed week? One thing is for sure is keep up to date with your SEO strategy and produce quality content that provides value to your readers. In addition, update your blog more and create content that is specifically crafted for your page. Moreover, AVOID what Ebay did with their doorway links.
Minimal content and having this mindset of sacrificing your UX for SEO is never a good move and it is fair to say Google’s Panda update will down rank you if you do adopt this particular mindset. In a nutshell, if you are keeping the end-users satisfied with high quality content (content is king remember) and you are optimizing your content accordingly, you should keep the Google Panda happy. If you fail to do this, you will definitely see your organic traffic decrease, and as a result you won’t have such a happy looking panda.