What is the Google Panda Update?

In late February 2011 Google announced a major update of its search engine ranking algorithm that would affect 12% of its search results and decrease some website visits by 50%. As of Monday, April 11, Google rolled out the update globally to all English-language users. Called the Panda or the Farmer Update, the latest announcement from Google is designed to reduce the rankings of low quality websites. Even big companies like JCPenney and Overstock.com were penalized for unnatural linking strategies.

To avoid being targeted by Panda, make sure your website strays away from certain patterns like duplicate content and unnatural language. Some other tell-tale signs of a low quality website that Google Panda may “slap” with low search engine rankings include using the same boilerplate content on every page, or including too many ads on a website. Also, lots of content with little traffic and little moderation may raise red flags for Google. No one single factor is enough to deem a site as low quality by Google Panda, but any combination of these factors may be sufficient.

There are things you can do to improve your website’s search engine rankings. The Panda update meant Google would begin integrating social media as a factor in its algorithm. So highlighting your company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and YouTube accounts is a great method to improve your website quality.

Another method to improve your search rankings is to track the backlinks to your site as best as you can, and to filter out the links from low quality websites. You don’t want Google to associate your site with low quality websites, so it’s better to cut the ties and avoid the negative association. Instead, try to grow backlinks from websites with high quality content that is focused in your industry. Make your website SEO-friendly with a continuous supply of fresh, quality content. This is easily done with a company blog on your website. Use it to give viewers the information they want, and to increase your search engine rankings.