Google Panda Update 2.2: Legitimate Sites Get A Reprieve From Time-Out!

There is yet another dance from Google and sites have been bouncing back and forth for a few days now.  We have seen the effect the first Google Panda release had on sites.  The Panda slap was heard loud and clear with many major sites going into oblivion, never to be seen again.

After a series of mini updates, it was on June 16th midnight that Google Panda update 2.2 has been unloaded on us. But this time around, there seems to be some reprieve to a few of the hard hit sites, and it’s not just the major sites but some of the smaller sites with unique content are back from the Panda pit.

Google Panda Update 2.2

With the latest Google Panda update, Google seems to be on the right track.  The search quality seems to have improved.  Aptly called, “Google’s war on nonsense” by the New York Times, this Panda 2.2 is highly efficient, but is gentler and has a caring touch.

Sites Hit Hard With Google Panda Update 2.2

Scraper Sites

The issue that continues to plague the web is that of scraped content, which often ranks higher than the original.  These sites use duplicate content from several sources.  In fact, this was continuing even post-Panda release.  All the WP mage, WP robot and other wordpress sites are the target of Google Panda update 2.2.

After the original Google Panda update, Matt Cutts noted how many webmasters were unhappy about scraped content, which is gaining popularity and outranking original content.

He promised to look into it and said, “A guy on my team [is] working on that issue. A change has been approved that should help with that issue. We’re continuing to iterate on Panda. The algorithm change originated in search quality, not the web spam team.

The latest Google Panda Update 2.2 heavily addresses this and comes with increased ability to detect and thwart scraper sites.  Many scraper sites were slapped and webmasters lost dozens of them.  They were not just penalized but also de-indexed from the SERPs.  Some of the worst hit sites include Buzzle, eHow and eZine.  They all suffered enough loss of revenue for them to have knee jerk reactions.

This is a great thing for genuine webmasters who were upset that their original content had to take a backseat while they were outranked by copycats who took over the top Google search results.

Hidden Text

Hidden text has been for many years considered to be one of the ways to get the Google Bot to crawl the keywords within this text, resulting in top SERPs.  Well, that’s not going to work now as Google has gotten smarter and is bent on getting rid of all such content.

The latest Google Panda update also has the capacity to find the original between two similar copies of content, going by the date when they have been published.  We are not talking of the date given by the webmasters, but by the actual date that is logged in by Google.

A Refresher On Google Panda

As we all know, content farms have been flourishing over the last couple of years.  If you don’t know what they are – they are sites that use keyword stuffed content, headlines and other tricks to make sure Web-users are attracted to the ads within. It may have looked like Google had turned a blind eye to them for a while, but the embarrassment that Google felt when marketers gamed its ranking system, was brewing deep within.  As a verbal artifact, this ripped off content that is “farmed” cheapens all information online.  Users often stumble upon weird content that doesn’t serve any purpose.  This content is created by cheap human labor that works as robots.

But as we said, Google was not going to take it lying down. It had to fight back and it did – by organizing information on the Web and making it acceptable and user-friendly. It concocted the Panda algorithm, which is seen to have affected about 12 percent of searches.  Also called the Farmer, Google Panda was named after an engineer at Google, Navneet Panda, who took the ability of machine learning algorithms to the next level.

When the Panda update was first brought out in March 2011, it created confusion among webmasters.  In spite of there being rumors about what to expect months before came out, it triggered off a massive frenzy when released.

The Web that seemed almost ungovernable just a few months ago, improved tremendously. Cheaters were sent down the hill.  It pushed hundreds of websites down in the rankings, while it made sure high-quality sites with original content and useful information were propelled to the top of the search results.

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Google said that it’s after quality content that is useful for users. It stressed that from then on, it would keep an eye on content and webmasters offering below-par quality will be punished by the Panda.

It did not end with that, there have been many updates to Google’s algorithm since then, with the latest, 2.2 seeming to please webmasters the most.

The Latest Google Panda Update Deemed The Best

Of course, there is room for error and many legitimate webmasters and SEOs have been penalized with the original update, because Google’s algorithm is not merely manual reviews of sites in the index.  Matt Cutts himself confessed a few days back that it may be possible that some genuine websites have become victims of the original Google Panda update, and that Google is doing everything possible to set it right.  He said that with the new update, it has recompiled the data to help such websites get back their high rankings or SERPs.

This is exactly what happened with the Google Panda 2.2 update. Many sites with original content that fell in rankings suddenly popped up again. There are many more that are still suffering, but there is hope that slowly Google will make it a perfect world.

The Future For Webmasters

Recently, Google introduced the authorship mark up, which is a way to connect original authors with their content on the Web.  This is expected to help users find content from specific or their favorite authors through the search results.  For example if a webmaster has authored hundreds of articles, using this markup, the webmaster can connect these articles with an “author page.”  The author page will show the author’s bio, including the photo, articles written and all other links.

This is just one of the changes Google has incorporated to give webmasters their due. Google will continue to tweak and update the Panda algorithm.  It advices webmasters not to make radical changes to their websites and to just focus on improving the quality of pages they deem unfit.  As we understand, low quality pages related to a URL will bring the overall content score of even the better ranking pages down.

The Google Panda update 2.2 continues to stress on high quality content that has relevance to other pages on a website to ensure you don’t get “pandalised” again.  But it doesn’t end there; the regular SEO attitude has to go out of the window.  As someone at SEOMoz put it, the role of an SEO is now more of a “web strategist,” and we all have to work towards a new form of SEO, where we ensure our users start spending longer on our pages, share them with others, link to them and our search traffic is up.

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Usha is currently a freelance writer and internet marketer. She has worked as a freelance writer for many years and has been an active internet marketer for six years. Having worked in the health-field for ten years in a senior management position, her interests are varied. She writes on a variety of topics, which include business, management, health, tech and a host of others. She is also the author of an e-book on internet marketing, which will be launched soon. Her future plans include publishing a non-fiction novel.

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