Each year Google rolls out plenty of updates in its search algorithm, in fact in 2020 alone, Google has pushed around eight major updates. SEO experts need to look closely when these updates are being rolled out as some of them can shake up rankings completely. If you’re a content marketing professional, then you must have at least heard about Google’s Panda Update. Although, Google’s Panda update came a decade ago it was a major game-changer in how we see content today.
Introducing Content Farms:
Google’s Panda update was a step towards the refinement of content that was available on the internet. The general idea behind the update was to make Google’s algorithm more user-centric. In other words, Google wanted to make its search engine more favorable towards its users. Content that could genuinely help out users in getting those answers that we use Google for.
However, there was one big hurdle in the form of content farms. Content farms before the update were quite common. These were basically websites that had no value in terms of helping out a user, yet they were on top of the result page. Enter any term such as “how to make a website” or “best restaurants in Kentucky” the SERPs would indicate a plethora or websites that provided no intrinsic value to a user. Content marketing during the times of farming was geared towards targeting specific keywords and stuffing them up. Usually, these websites stuffed keywords without even making sense to users and hence were able to come on top.
Google identified this as a major problem as it was hindering user experience. The content farming model was largely in-tact due to Google’s Algorithm update termed as ‘Caffeine’. With Caffeine, the process of indexation became faster and content farmers capitalized on the situation.
Google’s Panda Update:
Google’s Panda update was introduced on Feb 24, 2011 with one intention. Google posted the update changes on their blog and it’s a message that everyone should read. The update was specifically designed to reduce rankings for low quality websites. In doing so, Google pushed down nearly 11.8% of websites that were identified as content farms through the algorithm. 11.8% might sound like somewhat a low number, however don’t forget that the total number of websites indexed in Google are in the millions. This is a big number and all these sites witnessed the impact of Google’s Panda Update.
The Sole Features:
The Use of Survey Questions:
The algorithm itself is based on human experiences with websites. As during its developmental stages, surveys were used to ask different users on what they think about a specific website. For example, users were asked whether a certain website fulfilled their satisfaction in terms of what they were searching for. Hundreds of questions were compiled to gain intelligence and set criteria for a website that was considered as having quality content.
Uniqueness of Content:
Many content farming websites were basically spinning content that was already on Google. This could be seen as content manipulation because spun content was stuffed with keywords that offered a higher rank. Hence, uniqueness of content was given more relevance and content that offered something new or better was given priority.
The Panda update wanted to reward not only the users but also content creators. Website owners that were creating high quality content weren’t getting the recognition they deserved. Panda basically acted as a filter and removed content that wasn’t considered as high quality.
Learning from the Siege of Content Farms:
It’s important we learn from past to avoid future mistakes. Many websites who are new into this world still create content that doesn’t help out a user. This is the very reason why so many content marketing campaigns produce zero results. And it’s not even about just producing content that’s useful for the audience, the fact is that content that is high quality helps you reach out to customers which is your ultimate goal. Also, if you still produce content that isn’t unique or is stuffed with keywords having no relevancy then chances are your website will actually get demoted.