Overview of Google's Panda 4.0 Algorithm Update

Posted May 29 2014
At this point in 2014, you have heard again and again, "Content is king." Search engines like Google care more about quality content than anything else when it comes to search engine rankings.

At this point in 2014, you have heard again and again, "Content is king." Search engines like Google care more about quality content than anything else when it comes to search engine rankings. Every time Google makes a new tweak to their algorithm, it changes the way your website performs. It is important to understand the details so you can tailor your SEO strategies accordingly.

There are two major components of the Panda updates. Like many of Google's recent updates, they are intended to favour quality content while punishing websites that have spammy content. In particular, Google Panda 4.0 looks out for duplicate content, thin content, and content that seems written for robots rather than humans.

The idea behind Google Panda 4.0 is that people should be able to browse the web and find the sites with the most quality, polished information. They benefit more from content that is unique and highly informative than content that simply exists to drive traffic.

Ask.com Penalty
As an example, one of the major websites that was penalised from the latest Panda 4.0 algorithm update was Ask.com. Panda 4.0 was released on May 20th, and webmasters can track their sites to see if their traffic took a nose-dive that day.

Google's Panda 4.0 Update: delved deeper into the Ask.com drop to see what might have happened to their web traffic. By using Searchmetrics, they were able to show that most of the drop happened in specific subdirectories, including the /question/ subdirectory.

Because the point of this subdirectory is to answer questions that site visitors might not be able to find for themselves, it is no surprise that much of the content was repurposed from different sites, including Wikipedia. It seems this is what Panda 4.0 is punishing with their latest algorithm update, and sites like Ask.com that have long built their business model against reusing information take the hit.

Increased Glassdoor Traffic
On the other hand, Glassdoor saw a rapid increase in traffic following the Panda 4.0 update. They were favoured for providing unique information with user reviews, two things that the Google algorithm looks upon highly. Their website is simple and does not aggregate information from other sources. They are surely grateful for the increase in traffic, as much of their business comes directly from search engine.

What About User Experience?
However, the Google's Panda 4.0 Update article makes a good point that one thing missing from this Panda update is a solid focus on user experience. Ask.com does make things easier for site visitors by giving them a single location to ask questions and get answers. Instead of scouring the web, visitors benefit from having a single source of information. Glassdoor does the same thing, just in a different way. Yet both sites have completely different experiences with the Panda 4.0 update.

Although Ask.com doesn't always have entirely unique content, it is still a point of contention on whether or not they should be punished in search rankings for being a useful content syndicator and providing a solid user experience.