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What The Heck, Is There A New Google Panda Coming Out?

Way back in 2011, content marketing as we knew it was completely upheaved when Google updated its algorithm with what is known as the Panda update.

Since then, Google has updated its update by refreshing Panda, but nothing that seems as major as that grand 2011 update.

According to Search Engine Roundtable, though, there hasn’t been an official update in 9.5 months and there has not been an unofficial update in 8.5.

It should be here soon, though.

However, the questions now become – when will it get here and what will it do when it does?

Don't be fooled - the Panda from Google isn't cute and cuddly.

Don’t be fooled – the Panda from Google isn’t very cute or cuddly.

The Original Google Panda

Google’s Panda update began the movement of ‘content is king’ that we know, and hopefully love, today. After this update, Google started ranking poorer content sites or sites with thin content lower, which made room for higher content sites to finally rise to the top.

However, because this was not the way things were done at the time when quantity was key, a lot of sites swiftly saw its rankings fall. And the thing about Panda is that it ranks sites, not pages.

What Does That Mean?

Well, if you have a lot of bad content on your site but also some good content, don’t expect to be ranked high for those high-quality pages. If your overall site is ranked poorly, so is that incredible piece you crafted that would have explained everybody’s problems if only anybody had found it.

This means that sites who all of a sudden found themselves … wait, I take that back… this means that sites who all of a sudden didn’t find themselves (because they weren’t being pulled up on Google, obviously) in pleasant situations, well, they had to start revamping their entire site.

3 Other Things Panda Punished

Poor content is not the only thing that you cannot get away with and still rank high under Panda. There is a lot else as well.

1. Duplicate Content

Meaning you can’t write one article five different ways (or even two different ways) and act like you had a lot of content on your site.

2. Generic Content

So the writing itself is good, but what is the point? In order to be considered good content, it needs to actually be able to help readers.

3. Non-Quality Rater Approved Content

Google’s Panda update is largely dependent on quality raters that determine how trustworthy and credible sites are. The higher a quality rating, the better the site will do under the Panda algorithm.

Basically, what you have to do in order to be Panda-approved is have trustworthy, beneficial content where every page on the site adds value to the rest of the site instead of just rephrases it.

That’s not too hard, is it? Since many sites went up with Panda, it must not have been too hard for them.

What Have Been The Major Panda Updates?

For many, Panda updates are a blessing in disguise.

How so?

Let’s say you have a website that was hurt by a version of Panda. Since then, you have built a strong site filled with cutting edge content that will be a boon to anyone who reads it. You also got rid of all of your bad content.

In other words, you made over your site to catch Google’s eye. When an update comes, then, you should feel great about yourself. All of a sudden, you are ranking high again just like you did pre-Panda.

That’s a big reason for these updates. Yes, they fix some more problems and clean up some old ones. However, one of the biggest things these updates do is reward the people who worked hard to get their site back to the quality their reader’s expect and to punish those who slipped.

From the original Panda release in February 2011 until the last release in October 2014, Panda has been updated 27 times. If you do the math, you will see that adds up to an update on average less than every other month. That’s a whole lot of updating. For a history of the updates, Moz sums it all up for you.

Now, think about the fact that it has been 8.5 months since any type of update has occurred. As Search Engine Roundtable reports, that is a long time for websites who are ranked lower to have to wait in order to see if they can get bumped back up to the top.

What Is Coming? Some Announcements Straight From Google

It has been a while since Panda has been updated, but Google has made plans to make an update soon. However, we are all left guessing as to when soon might be.

As Search Engine Land reported, Google’s own Gary Illyes announced this upcoming update and said he expected it to be released within the next two to four weeks. The only problem with this statement, though, is that it was said on June 2 – which was six weeks ago.

So where is the update? According to Illyes Tweet from June 9, it is still in the “soon” phase, but no ETA can be given for technical reasons.

As for what will be effected, Illyes has stated it will be a data refresh, as opposed to an algorithm change. No matter how it is worded, though, things will change whenever it is updated.

Here’s My Tip: Be Panda Prepared

One of the best things you can do in order to be prepared for anything that Google throws your way is just keep getting rid of bad content and churning out good content (or turning your bad content into good content instead of just trashing it.)

The whole algorithm making you rank high or low all comes down to that. Google might change things. You might have to do some adjusting at times. However, if you make your content the best it can be, then the changes will not affect you all that much, nor will the adjustments be that time-consuming, expensive, and/or burdensome.

As more information is learned, for example when the update actually occurs, we will make sure to keep you in the know.

If you want to take that worry completely off of your plate, then check out our content services, and let us do the preparation and upkeep for you.

Google Pirate Hits the Web

Argh, me mateys! There be fewer torrents ahead!

Who doesn’t love pirates? Google, and those of us who take pride in our creations from movies to music to content. We’re not talking about spunky and sometimes spooky fantastical characters. We’re talking about real, live cyber pirates who hand users illegal versions of programs, movies, music, and more. We’re talking about repeated copyright infringers, the thieves who make off with our content and spread it about the Internet. According to a recent Torrentfreak report, the latest Google Pirate update has had a noticeable impact on many torrent sites.

Most of us have heard of torrent sites, but unless we’re big downloaders, we probably don’t know much about them. A BitTorrent is a protocol for peer-to-peer file sharing. BitTorrent protocol distributes huge amounts of data over the Internet. Torrent files can be anything from legally sharable software, like OpenOffice, to highly illegal shares, like cracked copies of Adobe Photoshop or pirated movies and music.

Google’s Pirate Isn’t Torrent Friendly

According to Searchmetrics, Google has been repeatedly criticized for “not doing enough against Piracy.” The nature of the Internet makes it next to impossible to police the proverbial waters effectively. It’s been argued that there’s no proven means of halting piracy on the high cyber seas, but Google’s Pirate update appears to be a step in the right direction.

Since the update released at the end of October, popular “pirate” sites—BitTorrent and torrent sites—have seen massive drops in search traffic. It appears that the search engine giant is “policing” the high seas by deterring search traffic from locating these sites in the first place. Search Engine Land’s coverage of the update included the following screen shot of the SEO visibility for the site torrentz.edu:

google-pirate

Image Credit: SearchEngineLand.com

According to Wikipedia, as of 2009 peer-to-peer torrent websites collectively accounted for an estimated 43 to 70 percent of all Internet traffic, depending on geographic location. Jump to February 2013, and these websites are suddenly responsible for 3.35 percent of all worldwide bandwidth. This is more than half of the 6 percent total bandwidth dedicated to file sharing.

There’s no denying that the distribution of pirated material has grown rampant. One might argue that it is virtually out of control. And it’s not just torrent sites that are the problem. Any site can be guilty of stealing content. Some event claim stolen content as their own. The Internet is so massive that it’s almost impossible for copyright holders to track down and report all offenders, but the incentive to do so just grew.

Whom It Affects

Google’s Pirate Update 2 works much like Panda and Penguin. Leveraging the data and queries collected by the first Pirate update from two years ago, Google’s new and improved swashbuckler is smarter than ever. You might say this buccaneer is sat proudly in the crow’s nest, actively on the lookout for copyright infringements. Any site where it spots a violation receives a huge drop in rankings. In some cases, sites are completely removed from search results.

But Google’s not just spotting and dropping copyright infringing sites. The king of the cyber seas is applying real, verified complaints and reports to the algorithm. Any site with a filed report through Google’s DMCA system will be the recipient of a sizable drop in rankings. The site risks immediate removal from the SERPs.

According to Searchmetric’s analysis, affected site are not receiving a mere slap on the wrist. You might say these sites are being made to walk the plank. Some have seen a 98 percent loss in SEO visibility, which is enormous. So far, it’s been unauthorized television and movie sites, peer-to-peer torrent sites, and various free download websites that have taken massive hits.

Are You in the Bullseye?

The good news, at least for most of us, is that Google’s Pirate is on a precise crusade. It seeks to spot and slash piracy websites. The current reports indicate that only mass download websites and those blatantly guilty of copyright infringement are being hit. It’s been about two weeks, and we haven’t seen any indication that there are bystander casualties.

Chances are you’re not in the Pirate’s bullseye. However, there’s certainly nothing wrong with making sure that you’re not ever skirting the outer edge. After all, the websites hit by the swashbuckler are getting hit hard. Your goal should be to hold to best practices:

  • Give credit where credit is due. Did you see the image credit earlier in this blog? You’ve probably noticed similar credits throughout numerous posts. It’s called giving credit where credit is due. When you “borrow” or share content, always give credit. It’s also smart to review the source. Read their terms and conditions. Confirm they are okay with their content being shared. See if they request a specific credit.
  • When it doubt, cut it out. If you can’t verify the source of any type of content, don’t display it. If you verify the source, but they state their content is not to be reproduced in any manner, don’t reproduce it. If they are okay with reproduction, but it comes with an express permission clause, contact them for permission. If there is even a sliver of doubt, cut it out! Don’t share or reproduce the content, even with a credit.
  • Observe the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have done to you. It’s solid advice for anyone, anywhere, any time. You wouldn’t want your content from words to images stolen. Don’t steal others. Instead, do everything in your power to promote a piracy free Cyber Sea.

The best way to avoid the Pirate’s wrath is to avoid copyright infringement. Google is continuously improving their algorithms. We’ve seen the results in updates to Panda and Penguin. Spammy, low quality websites are being steadily weeded out of search results. As a stauncher stand on Internet piracy is taken, we can expect to see future updates to the algorithm. Keep your nose clean of copyright infringement; avoid distributing media and content without permission and credit, and you should be clear to keep sailing the cyber seas.

Feature photo credit RT.com