Google Panda 4.1: What businesses need to know

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In short, the main aim of the Panda 4.1 update is to reward sites that focus on creating quality content, and punishing those that produce thin content.

Focus of the Panda updates

  • Keyword cramming is a no-go
  • Fish out low-quality content
  • Fresh, new content
  • User based focus
  • Reward sites that produce quality content

The update is essentially a sequel to Panda 4.0, as it is not a massive change. It refines the 4.0 update, pinpointing low-quality content with more precision.

Sites that benefit from the update

Every update affects different sizes of businesses in various ways. Medium to small size business benefit from this update because they generally focus on creating unique content rather than relying on high budget SEO strategies. It gives these sizes of businesses a chance to compete with the larger companies that focus on keyword ranking and in-depth website analysis. Examples of these sites include content-based sites and download portals (These sites are constantly updated with new content).

Search query rankings will now depend on the size of the business, creating a wide range of websites competing with each other.

Websites that suffer from the update

Sites that naturally rely on the repetition of content. Examples of these sites include:

  • Lyric sites – All lyrics sites contain the same information as each other
  • Gaming sites – Due to the limited content in the gaming world, gaming sites review the same games as each other which would lead to repetition of content
  • Medical sites – Each medical site is dealing with the same sicknesses/diseases. Therefore, these sites would take information that has already been written about and reiterate it.

3 factors you need to focus on in order to be successful in this update

1. Quality


Take the pages you believe are the most important on your site i.e those with high value, high traffic and improve those first based on the criteria Panda 4.1 has set out for you. Is your content too thin? Does your landing page provide enough information about your site to determine the content it creates? Make your high-value pages a priority.

2. UX


Google loves sites that provide a great user experience. The questions you need to ask yourself in relation to UX:

  • Is the appearance of your appealing?
  • Does the user find your site easy to navigate?
  • Do you deliver the expected information on each page?
  • Is your information presented in an appropriate manner?

3. Optimization


Whether it is a lower tier page or a higher tier page, optimize every page on your website. There is no telling whether Panda will find one of your pages of low quality and penalize your entire site.

Images source:

How do we determine quality content?

  • Is the information trustworthy?
  • Who is the article written by? A professional with experience or an amateur?
  • Spelling, grammatical or factual errors
  • Is the content original?
  • Is the content neutral?(shows both sides of the story)
  • A well-edited article
  • Does it aim to just rank highly on Google’s SERP or is it actually content that genuinely appeals to the user?
  • Are ads spammed throughout the article?
  • Does the content fit the site?
  • Poorly or well-produced web page
  • Apt description of the topic at hand
  • Short articles, lack information, not helpful to the user

Why the Panda 4.1 update is different than before (What Panda punishes)

  • Targets repeated content
  • Tied in with regular indexing process (not announced)
  • Sites ranking for competitive keywords not held in high regard in this Panda patch
  • Sites with the primary objectives of driving traffic to partner websites without providing quality content are punished
  • Sites with low tier information serving as mirrors to other sites won’t do well
  • Features broken links or blank pages
  • Keyword cramming, pop-ups, forced downloads, security warnings

How to recover after being hit by Panda 4.1

If you’ve already been hit by the update, there are ways to recover. Performing a content audit is valuable as it allows you to pinpoint which content on your site is low or high quality. Keeping a close eye on what your competitors are doing is a good way to determine what they’ve done in order to dodge the Panda bullet. However, this doesn’t mean you should copy their strategies as that goes against Panda 4.1 criteria. Learn from their successes or mistakes and create new strategies based on those points.

In conclusion, quality of content is on the rise and Google is getting much smarter in recognizing businesses creating thin content stuffing it with keywords in hopes to improve their Google search rankings. Cue the small to medium sized businesses that actually focus on giving the user and pleasant experience with actual enriching content.

20 year old amateur content writer interested in digital market content creation. I’m an absolute gaming fanatic and I have been involved in the competitive gaming scene since 2011. I started homeschooling when I was 16 and completed my IGCSE and A levels through Cambridge.
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    is this the feb 5 update?

    • Neil Pursey

      Hi, this article refers to the general Panda update – no specifics. Here is a good holding page which will have more detail on specific Google updates:

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        ahuh great youre amazing thankyou