So first off, you’re probably not a professional internet nerd, so you ask “what is Google Panda? I’ve heard of that before, I think.” You probably have heard of it, Panda is a Google algorithm originally released in 2011 that was created to lower the rank of low quality sites and boost the rankings of high quality sites. Sites considered low quality lack information, lack content that the user (this is nerd lingo for “human”) was *probably* searching for. Maybe you were searching for a Russian link farm with porn banner adds left, right and center, but probably you weren’t. Sites that were considered high quality had, you know, high quality content. The content that the user was probably searching for in the first place…you know what? Let’s do an example.
So our search term is “star wars episode 7” (#lowercaselife) the upcoming edition to the Star Wars series directed by J.J. Abrams. Technically its Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, but I’m pretty sure no one has ever used a colon in a search. Or Roman numerals. But I digress, lets take a look at Google’s top rankings for this search term:
Ok so let’s break these results down. We’ve got some recent articles in the “in the news section,” the official starwars.com website, the Internet Movie Database entry for SW7, the Wikipedia entry, and to the right we’ve got the Google Places (or in this case, Google Things) entry to the right, showing us the release date, the people involved in its production, the top image results, and related searches that Google thinks we might be interested in.
Damn, so thats pretty useful for me, all of the information that I could really want to know about the new movie is either right in front of me, or just a click away.
Google wants to serve us this good information, because heaven forbid we use Bing or Yahoo to search next time.
Alright so this looks pretty good, lets scroll a few pages deep and find some garbage–this is the fun part.
For reference, this was page 22 of the search results. AKA No-Man’s land, AKA no one is ever going back there, AKA your site is not going to make any money.
So the first thing we notice is, wow, those articles look very….similar. In fact, I daresay they look exactly the same. They are even all from .com.au domains. Aaaaaand they are 15 month old posts.
Google’s Panda algorithm crawls the content of these websites and says to itself (in a series of 1’s and 0’s, of course, I’m translating the binary into a human readable language for you all), the robot says to itself “well shoot, I don’t think the human user really wants to read any of this, lets slot these results on the 22nd page, that way no one will ever see it! Ever!”
Thank you, robot, I definitely did not search “star wars episode 7” so I could read a year old article, and I definitely don’t want to read some duplicated spam bull that probably wasn’t even written by an actual human being. Sorry Robot, I mean I like robots when it comes to searching, but I’d rather read human articles. There’s never been a robot Shakespeare. There hasn’t even been a robot J.K. Rowling*. There will be eventually, and its not too far off, a time when AI (artificial intelligence) will be able to “spin” (this is nerd lingo for “robot generated words”) articles that are actually nice to read and informational. And the software firm that develops this AI writing software will be bought by Google the next day.
Ok, so, Google Panda. Back to that. Google Panda is the main reason that these search results are organized so well. The things I want to read are on the first page, the things no one wants to read are in No-Mans land. We take this for granted, but if you compared a 2011 Google search result to a 2014 Google result, you’d throw the 2011 in the recycle bin just like you did with Excite, Lycos, Ask Jeeves, HotBot and the rest of the prehistoric search engines.
Beginning July 18th, a few days ago, our overlords Google announced that the new update of Panda, Panda v 4.2 would begin its “slow roll-out.” Which means over the next few months, they are going to shuffle the cards again, and content will renew its sacred vows as King of All that is Searched, first of its name. The competition will get harder, and for sites to rank, your content is going to have to be premium, its going to have to be the content that people read and want to read. And probably Google will include some social/sharing aspect, so not only does your content need to be what the user wants, but ideally its what the user wants and what he wants to tweet to his friend.
When the re-shuffle happens, why not shuffle yourself to the top? Or why not call someone like me to help you?
Thanks for reading.
PS: Next time we’ll talk about Google Penguin, which is like Panda, but focused on BACKLINKS.
*I actually love Harry Potter. Thanks J.K.!