People who keep track of things like this have dubbed Google’s newest Panda algorithm tweak Panda 4.1, although Google is quick to note that it has made several adjustments to its Panda 4.0 algorithm, as well as to its other named (and unnamed) algorithms.  They caution people not to assume that any change in search engine rank is due to only one of its algorithm changes.  They are quick to point out that ranking web pages on their search engine is a complex, ever-changing endeavor.Panda

For the uninitiated, the Panda algorithm penalizes content that it believes offers little or no value to users.  What is new about the latest Panda update is that Google has developed new and more sophisticated signals to more accurately detect low-quality content.

Winners and Losers

According to one Forbes article Press Release sites like PRWeb and PRNewswire have lost up to 70% of their search engine traffic because of the Panda algorithm.

According to yet another Forbes article  affiliate sites and other “portal” sites may also be big losers since they tend to have “thin” content, which is often not originally written.

So who are the Winners?

While earlier iterations of Google’s algorithms seemed to favor the “big guys” with deep pockets, Google admits that the big winners in organic searches today may include small and medium sized websites that offer thoughtful, in-depth and original content.

Google does not keep its strategy a secret, but offers clues as to how it evaluates content.  Below are a few of the questions that it advises people to ask when assessing the “quality” of a page, article or blog post: (See the Google Central Blog for the full list.)

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well…?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

While there are people who make a living by chasing Google’s algorithms, the best answer to the SEO conundrum may be to spend the time, energy and money needed to provide a steady stream of the type of content that your target audience will value and maybe even share.