Google Panda

Google Panda is a change to Google's search results ranking algorithm that was first released in February 2011. The change aimed to lower the rank of "low-quality sites" or "thin sites",[1] in particular "content farms",[2] and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results.

CNET reported a surge in the rankings of news websites and social networking sites, and a drop in rankings for sites containing large amounts of advertising.[3] This change reportedly affected the rankings of almost 12 percent of all search results.[4] Soon after the Panda rollout, many websites, including Google's webmaster forum, became filled with complaints of scrapers/copyright infringers getting better rankings than sites with original content. At one point, Google publicly asked for data points to help detect scrapers better.[5] In 2016, Matt Cutts, Google's head of webspam at the time of the Panda update, commented that "with Panda, Google took a big enough revenue hit via some partners that Google actually needed to disclose Panda as a material impact on an earnings call. But I believe it was the right decision to launch Panda, both for the long-term trust of our users and for a better ecosystem for publishers."[2]

Google's Panda has received several updates since the original rollout in February 2011, and the effect went global in April 2011. To help affected publishers, Google provided an advisory on its blog,[6] thus giving some direction for self-evaluation of a website's quality. Google has provided a list of 23 bullet points on its blog answering the question of "What counts as a high-quality site?" that is supposed to help webmasters "step into Google's mindset".[7]

The name "Panda" comes from Google engineer Navneet Panda, who developed the technology that made it possible for Google to create and implement the algorithm.[8][4]

Ranking factors

The Google Panda patent (patent 8,682,892), filed on September 28, 2012, was granted on March 25, 2014. The patent states that Google Panda creates a ratio with a site's inbound links and reference queries, search queries for the site's brand. That ratio is then used to create a sitewide modification factor. The sitewide modification factor is then used to create a modification factor for a page based upon a search query. If the page fails to meet a certain threshold, the modification factor is applied and, therefore, the page would rank lower in the search engine results page.[9]

Google Panda affected the ranking of an entire site or a specific section rather than just the individual pages on a site.[10] Google said it only takes a few pages of poor quality or duplicated content to hold down traffic on an otherwise solid site, and recommended such pages be removed, blocked from being indexed by the search engine, or rewritten.[11] However, Google's Matt Cutts warned that rewriting duplicate content so that it is original may not be enough to recover from Panda, the rewrites must be of sufficiently high quality, as such content brings "additional value" to the web. Content that is general, non-specific, and not substantially different from what is already out there should not be expected to rank well: "Those other sites are not bringing additional value. While they’re not duplicates they bring nothing new to the table."[12]


For the first two years, Google Panda's updates were rolled out about once a month, but Google stated in March 2013 that future updates would be integrated into the algorithm and would therefore be less noticeable and continuous.[13][14]

Google released a "slow rollout" of Panda 4.2 starting on July 18, 2015.[15]

See also


  1. "How Google Panda & Places Updates Created A Rollercoaster Ride For IYP Traffic". SearchEngineLand. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
  2. 1 2 O'Reilly, Tim (2016-11-16). "Media in the age of algorithms". O'Reilly Media. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  3. Testing Google's Panda algorithm: CNET analysis,, April 18, 2011
  4. 1 2 TED 2011: The 'Panda' That Hates Farms: A Q&A With Google’s Top Search Engineers,, March 3, 2011
  5. "Google Losing War With Scraper Sites, Asks For Help". Search Engine Watch.
  6. "Another step to reward high-quality sites". Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.
  7. "More guidance on building high-quality sites". Google. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  8. Google Panda at Brafton
  9. Panda, Navneet. "US Patent 8,682,892". USPTO. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  10. van der Graaf, Peter (November 3, 2011). "Algorithm tests on Google Panda". Search Engine Watch.
  11. "The Farmer/Panda Update: New Information From Google and The Latest from SMX West". Search Engine Land. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  12. Goodwin, Danny. "Google's Rating Guidelines Adds Page Quality to Human Reviews". Search Engine Watch. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  13. Schwartz, Barry. "Google: Panda To Be Integrated Into The Search Algorithm (Panda Everflux)". Search Engine Land. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  14. "Google Algorithm Change History". Moz. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  15. "Google Panda 4.2 Is Here; Slowly Rolling Out After Waiting Almost 10 Months". Search Engine Land. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
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