Panda, originally released in 2011, endeavored to show high-quality sites higher in the search results, pushing lower-quality sites down in position. This algorithm change, unnamed when it first came out, was often referred to as the “Farmer” update because of it’s devastating affects on content farms.

Panda is a sort of learning AI that analyzed the input of a crowd-sourced group of human search raters. The AI determined what a good page looked like, what a bad page looked like, and what factors influenced this decision. Google took these results and created the Panda update, which demolished entire industries of low quality content mills and scraper webpages.


Source: SEO Blog 

The Panda algorithm, concerned with on-site quality, is a site-wide issue, meaning that Google doesn’t just demote certain pages of your site in the search engine results, but considers the entire site to be of lower quality.

The blog post by Google Employee Amit Singhal includes a checklist you can use to determine if your site is high quality or not. It’s a pretty lengthly list, so we didn’t include it here, but you can find it at Google Webmaster Central Blog.

All the items on the list can be indicators of how users might rate the quality of your site. While it’s hard to say for certain all of the factors Google uses in determining the quality of your site—according to Panda criteria—the focus is ultimately on creating the best site possible for users, as well as making sure you provide Google with the highest level of content for indexing.

Things to Avoid:

  • Thin Content – Provides little or no value to readers
  • Duplicate content – Whether it’s copied from other sources or duplicated from your own site
  • Low-quality content – Poor content with information that no one is engaging with

The Panda algorithm is typically “refreshed” about every month, with announcements being made only when there’s a really big change. Each time Panda refreshes, Google reviews websites and determines whether or not they are quality sites in regards to the outlined criteria.

Has your site been adversely affected by Panda? If you’ve since removed thin, duplicate, or low quality content, when Panda refreshes, you should see an improvement. Sometimes, however, it might take a couple of refreshes to see the entire result of your efforts since it can take several months for Google to revisit all of your pages and register your changes.

Every so often, Google does a Panda update (like the 2014 Panda 4.0), instead of a refresh. This generally indicates that Google changed the criteria they use to establish what is / is not high quality content. While these updates can result in significant changes and dramatic recoveries, if you work hard to improve your website’s content you should see better results.