What is Google Panda?

Google Panda – this is the single biggest change since PageRank – Google has changed more in the last three years than they seem to have done in the ten years prior.

This signals a fundament change in Google, this is not just business as usual..

The Panda update is just not a normal update – this is a sea-state change; this is a competely different way of viewing search that Google has been know for and is going to substantially increase the SEO learning curve for everybody. At a movie theatre near you.

And bear in mind that we can express this as a continuum, although again in the last 3 years there’s been a very high rate of change at Google, a rate of change that is likely to increase rather than decrease.

It is what it is. Point is, whether you’ve been affected by Panda or not, you will be.

Panda Moanium

Okay, well, let’s give it a go, cracking this Panda nut (woohoo!) bearing in mind the explanations for Panda that are out there are, like, evolving.

Right: two fundamental new ways to look at Google SEO, and these are important because the way you think about SEO, the way you think about what Google is doing is going to drive what you actually do…

  1. Each page content now matters
  2. All your web pages, taken together, now matter

Google’s Panda – What’s it Meant to Do?

Why did Panda happen? Why now and why Panda? Is it too late to change career path and take up knitting…?

Once upon a time, there was this thing called ‘Caffeine’ (2009/2010, a new web indexing system to provide 50 percent fresher results for web searches compared to Google’s previous index) which rapidly expanded the Index by enabling the finding of links to relevant content much sooner after publishing. However, Mummy Bear, Daddy Bear and Baby Bear pigged out on porridge or, to put that another way, a lot of the resulting web content was ‘almost’ spam or shallow or thin web content.

What had happened was Google got so much content so fast, turns out it kind of overwhelmed the spamming machines, if you will, with the result that page rank and link text were no longer sufficient factors to provide the kind of search results that they wanted, and as of December last, it kind of got to be a crescendo, people were whingeing something terrible…

It’s taken a while – a ‘launch’ in March, regular upates – every four to six weeks, another one last month, and now we’re getting some clarity on what is actionable in response to Panda.

So, spam filter wasn’t working, authority and reputation weren’t working either, and millions of pages were being added to the Index in a fog of pre-Panda dithering, what I refer to as the Panda Pause (no, I don’t get out much…).

How do we know this? Because they told us. Yup. Bearing in mind that engineers use language in precise ways, we now present to you one of the the very few interviews that actually had any meat in it – a March 3rd interview on Wired – featuring two mighty Google engineers. Take it away, boys:

Amit Singhal: So we did Caffeine [a major update that improved Google’s indexing process] in late 2009.  Our index grew so quickly, and we were just crawling at a much faster speed. When that happened, we basically got a lot of good fresh content, and some not so good. The problem had shifted from random gibberish, which the spam team had nicely taken care of, into somewhat more like written prose. But the content was shallow.

Matt Cutts: It was like, “What’s the bare minimum that I can do that’s not spam?”  It sort of fell between our respective groups. And then we decided, okay, we’ve got to come together and figure out how to address this.

Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts were the two people in charge of a couple of really important areas of Google and they kind of found out that, ‘hey, this spam/quality content thing is really falling between our respective areas’.

What is Google Panda - Online Marketing wevolution digital

Above is an illustration of the way Google is actually organised; they ‘crawl’ the web (you’ve heard of a search engine spider, yeah?). And so they create this page Index and the Quality Team, which is headed up by Amit, is the one that takes whatever’s in the index and tries to create good search results from it. Matt is in charge of the Spam Team throwing away stuff in the Index that shouldn’t be there (and there’s some stuff that gets thrown away by the Crawl Team as well).

The problem ahead was that Matt’s triggers weren’t throwing stuff in the ‘binterweb’ and Amit wasn’t very happy with the stuff he was getting out of the Index, so … what to do?

P…p…p…pick up a Panda!


Some Google Panda LinkLuv
The Provenance of Panda
What is Google’s Farmer Update?
What is Google PageRank?

John Hargaden is CEO of wevolution digital, your full-service digital marketing partner focussed on growing your business online. Case Studies.