Panda Update

A Panda Update is Google’s identification for a modification in their search engine algorithm which should provide more precise search results and exclude unwanted findings. While it has already been used for all English search results since early 2011, Google activated it for Germany in August that year. It mainly affects websites with content that has no or only little importance for the user.


Google wants to achieve an increase in the content’s quality of search results. Actually this should be the basic principle of all search engines. The Panda Update’s approach is to measure the quality of a page’s content in order to improve the search results for the user.


Especially pages that didn’t have any additional value for the user were affected by the Panda Update. These pages were mainly so-called content-farms which were concentrated on quantitative content or either pages with blank content which only have internal links. Furthermore, portals were affected that have many subpages for one keyword and use similar versions of the keyword for the same topic. Usually Google classifies such texts which have a similarity that is too high as duplicate content. The new algorithm identifies pages with a high ratio of advertisement to content via Panda Update. So Google punishes pages that have a high amount of advertisement by decreasing their rank in the SERPs or in special cases, excluding the page from the SERPs. Online Tools which understood Google’s rating showed the biggest losers one day after the update was launched with their own visibility Index and some of them had to make changes up to 86%! [1] Media and news pages profited the most from the Panda Update. [2] Especially for the profiteers it’s not sure whether they had a direct advantage of the update or only of the degradation of their competitors . According to Google, the Panda Update influenced 12% of the search results in English language. [3] A similar number was affected in the German language area.

Social Search[edit]

Google extends the search results with the Panda Update by adding their own social network: Google+. As a result posts of Google+ users inside the social circle can influence the search results. Content of friends will get a higher significance than strangers’ content. [4]

Panda 4.0[edit]

At the end of May 2014 the 4th version of the Panda Update was launched. While the updates and the launch of panda happened separately till then, 2014 was a premiere when the Payday Loan Update was launched promptly. The question to ask webmasters and SEO experts was which one of the two algorithm modifications caused the changes in the ranking. But while the Payday Loan Update mainly affected queries with spam pronenesses and spamtechniques , the Panda Update 4.0 was a consequent development of the former version with improvements in the content’s quality and search results. After launching the updates the following effects could be noticed:

  • Websites that were highly affected by the former Panda Update could increase their visibilty again, but couldn’t reach the standard before Panda 2011.
  • Some websites with much editorial content could raise their ranking heavily
  • Online Shops were barely affected [5]
  • It was supposed that Panda 4.0 punished many websites for press releases but disagreed in other points [6]

In general it can be assumed that the partly moderate changes in the ranking were already caused by the first Panda Update which deeply cleared up the SERPs and so with the 4th version, Google layed down the tracks for further changes in the algorithm.

Panda 4.1[edit] called the next update Panda 4.1 [7] which was launched in the week before the 26th of September 2014 according to Google-employee Pierre Far. The whole rollout took alomost two weeks and affected between 3 and 5% of all search queries globally. Furthermore, Far explained in his posting on Google+ that the new Google Panda Update will detect content with low quality more effectively. Far leads back this improvement to webmasters’ and users’ feedback. Possibly, he wanted to tell that users can easily give Google feedback with screenshots of the search snippets. An important new feature of Panda 4.1 affects small and medium-sized pages which offer high-quality content. According to Far those should profit the most of the Panda Update. So by rolling out Panda 4.1 the pages that have been affected by Panda 4.0 and that removed mistakes e.g. thin content in the mean time were set free from the penalty. [8] Indirectly formulated could mean that all websites which were negatively affected with a loss of visibility and ranking by the Panda Update or didn’t recover with the Panda 4.1 have to optimize their content urgently.


The Panda Update doesn’t affect single subpages but whole websites. Google rates single subpages. If too many subpages are classified by Panda’s quality-index, a page’s ranking will decrease or will be excluded from the index. As a result affected sites need to be identified and need to be optimized according to the Panda Update. Those five points should be focused on: [9] few or double Content

  • Pages that should contain content, but don’t
  • Text with low uniqueness
  • Too many Ads on the page
  • High use of Affiliate-Links and automatically generated content


  1. Google Panda reaches Germany SISTRIX SEO-Blog (German). Accessed on 10/29/2012
  2. Google Panda Update in Germany – winners and loosers Blogpost by Marcus Tober (German). Accessed on 10/29/2012
  3. New algorithm for high-quality websites – now in more languages Google Webmaster Central Blog (German). Accessed on 10/29/2012
  4. Google Search Plus Your World: Google+ Information in the SERPs (German). Accessed on 11/28/2014
  5. Google Update Panda 4.0 barely affects Online-Shops (German). Accessed on 06/05/2014
  6. Did Google Panda 4.0 Go After Press Release Sites? Accessed on 06/05/2014
  7. Did German press-portals suffer from Panda 4.0? (German). Accessed on 06/05/2014
  8. Panda 4.1 – Google’s 27th Panda Update – Is Rolling Out Accessed on 11/27/2014
  9. Beating Google’s Panda Update Blog article by Cyrus Shepard on the blog Accessed on 11/05/2012

Web Links[edit]