Since the initial launch, Google has remained busy with the implementation of several more updates in an attempt to further improve the quality of search results. It has been 11 days since Matt Cutts, Google Principal Engineer, made the announcement on Twitter that the roll out of Google’s Panda Algorithm version 4.0 was official in the United States.
Panda is Google’s weapon aimed at destroying (removing) all of the garbage content, or the low quality stuff that shows up in the Google search engine’s search results. I have been monitoring many websites and doing a little bit of research these past 11 days since May 20th, and have come to the conclusion that Panda 4.0 has had a negative effect on a lot of websites whose webmasters were practicing black magic. Did I say black magic? I meant “Black Hat SEO” tactics. After all, I am just making sure that you are reading and not falling asleep on me.
So now that we have established that Panda Algorithm version 4.0 has punished a lot of webmasters who failed to follow White Hat SEO practices, let’s look at how it is affecting our small businesses.
Google Panda Algorithm 4.0 and Its Effect on Small Businesses
Unfortunately, we have limited details on the update (Google Panda 4.0) as of now, but at the Search Marketing Expo on March 2014, our faithful Google friend, Matt Cutts, made an announcement pertaining to the “next generation” Panda update. Cutts explained that his team is working on a softer version of Panda which will actually be beneficial to small businesses. This soft Panda update will affect small businesses directly by helping them become more visible in Google’s search results.
Wait a minute! Does this soft update to Panda sound familiar to anyone? Well, it should. Google did this before when they released their Panda update last year in July. So how did businesses fair after Google softened their Panda algorithm last July?
Unfortunately, the answer is not one that I feel happy sharing with you, and that’s because it is my duty to report that according to a poll by Barry Schwarz, only 18% of the businesses affected by the previous, “softer”, Panda update, were able to make a complete and full recovery.[embedplusvideo height="500" width="602" editlink="http://bit.ly/1oIXaxG" standard="http://www.youtube.com/v/3JeQeH54u-c?fs=1&vq=hd720" vars="ytid=3JeQeH54u-c&width=602&height=500&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=" id="ep6509" /]
“Google is adding additional signals to look for other quality metrics that may lessen the impact of the Panda algorithm for those sites in the gray area.”
- Matt Cutts, head of Google’s search spam
All we can do now is wait and see how the new update affects small businesses. However, we can expect that small businesses will have more visibility in local results.
So what did we learn from this? Ultimately, Google’s Panda algorithm filtered through all of the poor quality websites with thin or no content. Panda’s design was intended to punish content farms whose main purpose was to “fool Google” and manipulate a website’s Google rankings. As a result of the Panda update, a lot of small businesses paid the price when they got caught “cheating”, forcing them to lose their visibility in Google’s search engine overnight. This was another win for the big dog brands and stirred up quite a storm in the SEO and small business communities.