Panda 4.1 and its Effect on Business Brands

Since the most recent iteration of Google’s Panda update hit on September 25th, you may have been tracking some interesting changes to your clients’ or business web analytics. Panda 4.1 utilized a few new signals to identify and penalize low-quality content; specifically, its main function was to target thin and duplicated copy. Although Google warned that 4.1 would be the last of all Panda algorithm changes to be announced, they did acknowledge that the search engine is working on a “softer” Panda roll out that will help small websites and businesses perform better in the SERPs.

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Who Was Affected by Panda 4.1?

  • It seems that numerous affiliate websites that had withstood the blows of previous Panda updates were finally knocked out by 4.1. These in particular included websites that were obviously keyword-driven, and acted simply as gateways to other websites.
  • Informational websites – even those with credibility like Answers.com and HowStuffWorks.com – were penalized for providing broad knowledge about a wide variety of topics. Conversely, niche informational sites were given a boost; not surprising, as Google loves industry authority figures that share at lengths about a few topical subjects. This is especially true with niche blogs and websites that provide original content that is entertaining or informational as it is thorough.
  • Local business sites that were committed to providing their customers with helpful, inessential copy were also rewarded for providing a content-rich experience, whereas local businesses that offered only the bare minimum (contact information, tagline, standard ‘About Us’ page, etc.) did not fare as well.

How to Keep Your Site in Good Standing

In Marketing Land’s Panda 4.1 analysis, Jim Yu noted that a number of those sites that were negatively impacted hosted ads above the fold, and/or boasted a high image-to-text ratio. This not only demonstrates thin content, but is also indicative of a slow mobile page load time. Depending on the nature of your business, visuals are an important onsite factor to include – however, they should be logically balanced out with text that provides visitors with information on your brand, products and services.

The key takeaway from Google’s latest update is that businesses need to prioritize digital content development and user experience above all else. In short, eradicate duplicate content and come up with creative means for providing engaging content on most every page. Whether that content strategy includes informational copy blocks, how-to help guides, blog posts or another form of text, it is your job to decide the function of every page and how it will attribute to the desired outcome of each unique user visit. Search, content and user experience are now one in the same, so pinpoint your business’ weak spots and say what you need to say.