An interesting anecdote comes to the mind when speaking on the Google Panda update. When the world was saturated with sinners, God decided to end the world and allowed only Noah (for he was the most righteous of all men) and his family to survive. Google may not be the god of search engines, but it is a formidable force and with the Panda update it aimed to kill bad websites and cleanse the internet world of all duplicate and unworthy content.

Google isn’t new to updates. There have been updates in the past (Vince, Mayday, etc.), but what makes the Panda Update the big daddy of all updates is the fact that no other algorithmic change was as multi-faceted and as multi-variable as this one. It addressed several SEO parameters including link building, on-site optimization, user metrics, search data, content, and even social signals. To be precise, it has punished sites that:

  • Thrive on substandard (read grammar errors), copied, and duplicate content. Also, you cannot afford to showcase duplicate content with multiple tags within the blog
  • Promote aggressive link building
  • Contain excessive Adsense and banner advertising on multiple pages
  • Have a high bounce rate
  • Have backlinks from low quality site

While it is appreciable that low quality sites with low quality content were shown the door, there also exists a downside to this. It is no secret that the article directories were the most hit with the update. HugPages, Squidoo, Ezine Articles, and Wise Geek were among the most hit. These sites in an attempt to sanitize themselves sometimes went overboard. Thus, certain topics including internet marketing became taboo, even if the directed link does not contain an affiliate tracking ID. Ehow too, decided to get rid of user- generated content even if it was popular and managed to get visits.

There are several other factors that have gained significance, including low social activity. Through these changes, it aims to enhance user experience. Factors that are likely to dominate the experience of a user have been incorporated in the algorithms. And where this actually differs from previous updates is that if your site has been hit by the Panda, you cannot just make cosmetic changes and expect things to be sorted out. You will have to wait until the next update comes to know if you are on the right track. The best way to handle this is by going back to basics, and follow guidelines that Google has always insisted that you follow.

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