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SEO

What is Google Panda?

Gareth Cartman

As part of a new series of blog posts on the Google algorithm, we look at Google Panda - what is it, what does it target, and how can you counteract the Panda?

what is google panda


There are roughly 200 different factors in Google’s algorithm. That makes it incredibly hard to second-guess where you’re going to rank, and how to get your site ranking.

But perhaps one of the most important ranking factors is Google Panda. It’s an algorithm that has undergone many iterations in the past, and is now an integral part of Google’s real-time algorithm. So what is it? How do you stay on the right side of the Panda? Let’s take a quick look…

Engagement

Google Panda measures engagement – in other words, how users react to your website.

If somebody comes to your website, looks at your home page, and leaves after 3 seconds, this could be seen as a negative sign. If 90% of people who come to your website only last 3 seconds, then this would be a definite black mark against your website.

What can you do?

You probably need an audit of your Google Analytics to understand what is really happening. Some pages might be worse than others, but some immediate things you can look at in the short term are: 

  • How long does it take for a page to load? 
  • Do you have any annoying adverts or pop-ups? 
  • Is your website design old-fashioned?

People are naturally impatient, and so if your page doesn’t provide them with what they need, quickly, then they will probably leave.

Quality

Panda measures quality. We know that Google is able to ‘score’ your page for readability (i.e. how hard it is to read), but we know that Google also has a Quality team, who manually review websites.

It’s their knowledge that has been fed into the Panda algorithm. So websites with poor grammar, spelling mistakes, or even difficult-to-read text can often see themselves penalised by Google Panda.

What can you do?

Get your website checked over by a copywriter as a first step. They will be able to tell you how good your copy is and what you need to rewrite.

‘Thin’ Content

One of the first things Google Panda aimed to tackle was ‘thin’ content – in other words, pages with not very much text on them. 

This means that the average first-page result has 1,890 words.

However, that doesn’t mean you should go out and just write tonnes of content. Instead, focus on the quality of the content, and add copy when you think it’s appropriate for the user.

Another definition of ‘thin’ content would be content that is long – but doesn’t necessarily add any value. In other words, it’s a lot of waffle. This used to be found everywhere on the Internet, on what were called ‘content farms’ – websites designed purely to rank for keywords, without providing any value to the user.

What can you do?

Review all of your web content and compare it to the pages that are already ranking on page 1 for the keywords you are targeting. How do you compare? Is it ‘thin’ in comparison – are you providing as much value to your readers?

Keyword Targeting

Finally, one good reason why people bounce from websites is that they land on a page that is not what they were expecting. Sometimes, this is because you are targeting the wrong keyword in your page title and H1 tags, and Google is indexing you for this.

What can you do?

It is always a good idea to review the keywords you are targeting, and check that the rest of the page is appropriate to that keyword.

Google has improved its understanding of which pages should be ranking for which keywords, and Panda is part of that understanding.

In other words, Google knows when people are disappointed by what they find!