Panda was originally released in February of 2011 and that is a date that will live in infamy and will not soon be forgotten by any SEO’er. It generally aimed to lower the rankings of sites that had “thin content” or were “low quality sites”. This was done in an effort to allow higher quality site to move up the rankings, allowing them to get the traffic they truly deserved. Ironically the name “Panda” isn’t something that Google thought would be funny but is actually the last name of the Google engineer who developed the technology. When Google was first implemented it reportedly changed the rankings of almost 12% of all the search engine results pages.
Surprisingly after Google first rolled out its Panda algorithm they received a wave of complaints from scrapers and copywriters who were receiving better rankings then the original sites that had the original content. Believe it or not at one point in time Google actually asked for help in detecting scrapers. Hint “disavow”? There have been several updates to Panda senses originally rolled out in 2011 and the effects of the Panda algorithm went global in April 2011.
Let’s dig in and see how Panda really works. The Panda patent is (patent 8,682,892) and it was filed on September 28th of 2012 and was later granted on March 25th, 2014. Panda works through the use of ratios. These ratios need to be met by each individual site and if they are not met or exceeded the threshold they will be penalized. It starts with creating a ratio of the sites inbound links and reference queries as well as the number of search queries for that sites brand name. It then uses that ratio to create a site wide modification factor. This modification factor is then used to create a modification factor for each individual page based upon a search query. If a page then fails to meet a specific threshold the modification factors will be applied and therefore the pages will rank lower in the serps.
These effects will be felt throughout the entire site or a specific section of the site instead of affecting just an individual page. Google has openly said that it only takes a few pages of a site to be of poor quality or duplicate content to dramatically hinder the performance of an entire site which is an otherwise solid site. Google also recommends that pages that contain poor quality or duplicate content be removed, blocked from the index, or rewritten. For the first two years of Panda it was rolled out roughly once a month but in 2013 Google announced that the updates will be integrated into an algorithm that will be rolled out slowly therefore it will be less noticeable if you believe your website is being harmed by the Panda Algorithm we would love to help, follow this link and get started today!
On July 18th, 2015 Google released a “slow rollout” of Panda 4.2. Currently we don’t need to particularly worry about Panda because it has been incorporated into what Google is now calling Rank Brain which is a collection of all of Google’s algorithms which are put into one place and rollout continuously. We’ll dive into Rank Brain a bit later.