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The Panda Ranking Factor

For the last ten years or so there was Pagrank now enter Panda. Rather than being a change to the overall ranking algorithm, Panda is more a new ranking factor that has been added into the algorithm.

Panda is a filter that Google has designed to spot what it believes are low-quality pages. Have too many low-quality pages, and Panda effectively flags your entire site. Being Pandified, which means that your pages within your site carry a penalty designed to help ensure only the better ones make it into Google’s top results.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s spam fighting team, explained that the Panda filter isn’t running all the time. Right now, it’s too much computing power to be running this particular analysis of pages.

Instead, Google runs the filter periodically to calculate the values it needs. Each new run so far has also coincided with changes to the filter, some big, some small, that Google hopes improves catching poor quality content. So far, the Panda schedule has been like this:
•Panda Update 1.0: Feb. 24, 2011
•Panda Update 2.0: April 11, 2011 (about 7 weeks later)
•Panda Update 2.1: May 10, 2011 (about 4 weeks later)
•Panda Update 2.2: June 16, 2011 (about 5 weeks later)

Recovering From Panda

For anyone who was hit by Panda, it’s important to understand that the changes you’ve made won’t have any immediate impact.

For instance, if you started making improvements to your site the day after Panda 1.0 happened, none of those would have registered for getting you back into Google’s good graces until the next time Panda scores were assessed — which wasn’t until around April 11.

With the latest Panda round now live, Google says it’s possible some sites that were hit by past rounds might see improvements, if they themselves have improved.

The latest round also means that some sites previously not hit might now be impacted. If your site was among these, you’ve probably got a 4-6 week wait until any improvements you make might be assessed in the next round.


In conclusion, some key points to remember:

Google makes small algorithm changes all the time, which can cause sites to fall (and rise) in rankings independently of Panda.

Google may update factors that feed into the overall algorithm, such as PageRank scores, on an irregular basis. Those updates can impact rankings independently of Panda.

So far, Google has confirmed when major Panda factor updates have been released. If you saw a traffic drop during one of these times, there’s a good chance you have a Panda-related problem.


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