What was the Google Panda algorithm update and does it still affect my website? - Amanda White Digital
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What was the Google Panda algorithm update and does it still affect my website?

What was the Google Panda algorithm update and does it still affect my website?

I have been working within the SEO and Digital Marketing industry for over ten years and have seen lots of changes within the industry.

Google currently has a well-oiled machine and a very slick platform that applies regularly updates, tweaks and changes to how it crawls, evaluates and ranks websites within its own index. These are called its algorithms, Google constantly rolls out algorithm changes on a regular basis, but 10 years ago, when Google launched the Panda update to it’s algorithm, it shook the world of SEO and changed how websites were updated and ranked for ever more.

What is Google Panda?

Google Panda was effectively a filter that stopped websites deemed with low quality content from appearing at the top of Googles search result pages. Panda was first launched in February 2011 and as we approach ten years since Panda, I ask the question, do we still need to pay attention to this century old update?

Google Panda Algorithm Update was first launched in February 2011. How does it affect SEO in 2021?

Google makes micro updates to its algorithms almost everyday and most of these changes are so subtle that they go completely unnoticed. However, in 2011 when Google launched its first iteration of the Panda update, it was thought to affect nearly 12% of search queries in the US!

We launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries


It was thought that the Panda Update acted like a filter that overlaid and worked on top of the existing algorithms and together these produced the search engine results pages.

The websites that were negatively affected by the Panda updates were mainly low quality sites, that added little to no value to users or websites that copied or scraped content from other websites and used it as their own.

The positives to these updates, were that it created great opportunities for websites that produced high quality content, in depth research, original reports, analysis and those that are specialists or authoritative in their niche to rise in the rankings. The Google Panda update encouraged the adoption of better content for Googles users.

First rolled out in February 2011 in the US, the update was fully rolled out to all English-Language Google users by April 2011. Over the next 4 years, Google made many updates to it’s Panda Algorithm with at least 28 tweaks reported within the industry before Google announced in January 2016 that Google’s Panda algorithm updates would now become part of its core ranking algorithm.

Can we forget about Google’s Panda algorithm now?

Although Google doesn’t specifically update its Panda algorithm in silo anymore, it does include ‘panda/content’ related updates within its core algorithm and these core updates roll out all the time, several times a month.

The most recent update is thought to have happened just this month in January 2021. You can see a really comprehensive guide to the most significant updates here.

Although it’s been ten years since that first Panda Update and 5 years since the theory of the Panda Filter was adding into Googles Core Algorithm, it’s worth knowing, that good quality content is still of huge importance and seen as a significant ranking factor.

Many a SEO professional will have been sick of hearing the phrase ‘Content is King’ during those years of Panda algorithm updates, but it still rings true today. If you want to rank well with the search engines, make sure you are writing interesting, truthful, engaging, useful content.

If you require any help with your SEO then please do get in touch or if you just want to chat old skool SEO from ten years ago then I’ll pop the kettle on.

Amanda White SEO Specialist in Cornwall.