Panda 4.0: Good News for True Performance Marketers

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Sylvia Nankivell, Traffic Acquisition Manager at Affiliate Window


When we hear Google has released another algorithm update, site owners, and in particular affiliate site owners, tend to feel a sense of anxiety, and sometimes even a little panicked. 

The introduction of Penguin and Panda updates have seen many affiliate sites taking hits to their traffic over the past few years, and have even led some to be pushed out of the affiliate business altogether. Certainly, the rules are a lot harder than they used to be.

So, the innate dread that some of us now feel upon hearing the news of a new algorithm update is understandable. However, perhaps, for those of you that saw a significant increase in Google traffic, occur on May 19, you may actually be able to let go of that disbelieving breath.

Yes, you heard right, Panda 4.0, is actually benefiting smaller affiliate sites. 

At the Search Marketing Expo in March, Google’s Head of Search Spam, Matt Cutts, disclosed that “One Googler on his team was specifically working on ways to help small websites and businesses do better in the Google search results. This next generation update to Panda is one specific algorithmic change that should have a positive impact on the smaller businesses.”

Is this the end of Google Panda Brand Protection?

As always, if particular sites are moving up in Google search results due to an algorithm update, inevitably, other sites will be moving down. In fact, much of the news and insights you read regarding Panda 4.0 will revolve around the fall in rankings that some huge sites such as ebay.com, ask.com and American coupon site retailmenot.com have experienced at the hands of Panda 4.0.

Historically, Google’s updates may have felt somewhat unjust to some smaller affiliate sites, and there has been much talk of the magical protection of the big brand. I have heard complaints from affiliates whose sites consist of pages of in-depth, rich content, and yet they’re losing out to big brands with a page containing only a brief sentence on it.

Is it possible this new Panda 4.0 update is in response to these sorts of complaints? It seems that now, big name brands, as well as the smaller businesses, need to consider how rich the information is on all of their pages and directories.

This does however mean that sites that have suffered damage to their traffic from Panda in the past, may now feel that justice is being done. With the introduction of this new algorithm change, thin directory pages such as those within http://www.ask.com/question/ are no longer outranking well thought-out, informative content on smaller sites, simply because they are on a big brand website.

So what’s Next?

The narrative given by Google around this latest update focuses on the ‘softening’ of Google Panda, and that it “also lays groundwork for future iteration.” 

This means that even if your company or site hasn’t been hit by Panda 4.0 on May 19, thin content pages will still be at risk of future Panda 4.0 updates (that future “iteration”). If you are working on a site that has a series of pages with insufficient and uninformative content on it, it may well be time to consider strategies for turning these pages around and evaluating its quality vs. quantity.

Hopefully this means that more future updates to Panda will continue to help smaller affiliate sites recover. 


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