Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is summarized as the art of getting a website’s pages to land, or show up, in a search engine query and now Google is changing how this will occur for users who use its search services.
Google Panda is a new ranking factor that Google is rolling out on a global scale for all searches conducted in English, and has recently added all other major languages save for Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The change, which is technically Panda 2.3, is estimated to impact English searches as much as 12 percent, while other languages are affected as much as nine percent.
The goal of Panda, as with other algorithmic methods used by Google, is to improve the quality of searches by eliminating spam websites and derivative sites that simply harvest information from the original site and use it to attract users to their website, and therefore their advertisers. Since advertising drives content it often occurs that the advertising becomes more important than the content, and thus a spam site is born. Google’s success is based on helping users avoid these sites.
Google’s previous methods include a concept known as PageRank, the factors of unique content and relevance signals like title tags, among other technical tactics. PageRank involves measuring the raw link authority that other reputable sites pass to a site. The more links the better, and the more respected the site doing the linking gives the link more value. “Title Tag” and unique content algorithms allowed Google to further sort the wheat from the chaff by identifying original sources of quality content and penalizing plagiarists.
Panda ups the ante by accounting for user input in its rankings as well as using the tried and true formulas that has made Google a search engine powerhouse. The algorithm accomplishes this by calculating the time a user spends on the site, how often the site is shared through social media networks and how many pages a user visits while on the site. Google has also provided 23 questions for webmasters that help assess whether a site’s content is considered high quality.
The overall effect is one that may challenge SEO specialists who will have to adapt to the new changes to help gain ground in the battle to the top of the search page, but observers believe it will improve search engine results and keep users coming back, in which case Google will have achieved its goal.