Google Panda 4.1 Released

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Google’s development team is constantly engaged in the Red Queen’s race, running as quickly as it can to keep pace with the spate of low-rent content that gets published constantly. Occasionally the Google team pulls ahead; when the search engine giant releases a new algorithm change, the SEO world scrambles to see what it needs to do to keep up.

The latest update to Google’s Panda changes that upended the SEO content industry, Panda 4.1 follows in its predecessors’ pawprints, targeting thin or duplicate content for harsh penalties to page rankings. By punishing low-quality content, Google in effect pushes high-quality sites to the top of the search engine results pages. De-indexing spam-filled sites and blogs stuffed with scraped, spun or plagiarized content stops the flow of traffic from Google to these pages, so it’s imperative not to be confused with them to avoid unwarranted penalties.

Google’s spam-fighter-in-chief Matt Cutts described the official release of Panda 4.1 on September 30 as a slow roll-out that will take a few weeks to propagate. The changes will affect an estimated 3 to 5 percent of search queries, which may not sound like much until you think about the vast numbers of queries Google receives. This update could cast a wide enough net to trap legitimate sites, and while the company has a record of adjusting websites’ stats if the sites were punished unduly harshly, that process takes time.

Your best bet, then, is to eliminate the content on your site that could cause problems with the Panda. Thin content – a few broad, shallow or generic phrases stuffed with a high keyword density – is a prime target, as is duplicate content. Duplication could also include e-commerce sites that use the same description for products across multiple URLs. If your online shop doesn’t have unique descriptions for every item, you could find yourself on the wrong side of this update. The fix here is easy: Upload new descriptions for items, and you’ll earn brownie points from Google.

This iteration of Panda also promises to look out for the little sites, giving high-quality websites published by individuals, small businesses and mid-sized companies more weight. The idea behind these changes, as with all of Google’s algorithm updates, is to answer users’ queries accurately by rewarding them with results that represent the closest fit to the original search.

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