No, this panda isn’t one of those adorable black and white fur balls you will see at the zoo, or prominently featured in YouTube videos. This panda has no real body at all, it lives on the internet, and is composed entirely of code. Panda has been subtly impacting your life for over four years, and you probably never even knew it.
The Birth of Panda
Panda is an update made to Google’s mysterious search results ranking algorithm. The update was the brainchild of Google engineer Navneet Panda, which first debuted in February of 2011. The principle of the update was to lower the search results ranking of “low-quality” or “thin” websites, and to thus increase the rankings of high-quality websites. It was a targeted attempt by Google to lessen the power content farmers and advertiser held on the internet. The first rollout of the Panda update impacted a staggering 12 percent of total search results delivered by Google.
The Effect of Panda
The release of the Panda update sent ripples across the internet. It was the first search update of its kind. Previously, it had been difficult to assess the “quality” of a website, as quality is widely regarded as a subjective term. Legitimate, quality websites were unfortunately impacted by the debut of Panda, and some scrapers and copyright infringers saw their website rankings rise. To combat this, Google appealed to the public, asking for help gathering data and information on low-quality websites and scrapers. To this date, Panda has received 30 updates, each aimed at increasing its effectiveness. Google’s ultimate goal is to increase the amount of high-quality content on the internet.
The Definition of Quality
In an effort to create some transparency, and allow businesses a chance to “step into Google’s mindset,” Google released a 23 point document listing some of the factors that contributed to a website being categorized as “high-quality.” Essentially, Google wants website to produce interesting, relevant, and well written content. Google wants to give trustworthy and passionate business owners a chance to compete in the wild world of the internet.
On July 18th, Google began the slow rollout of the latest update to the Panda algorithm. They have stated that update will take several months to fully debut; it will likely take several more months for its impact to be fully felt. Google expects 2-3 percent of websites to be affected by their latest edition of the Panda algorithm. The best way for websites to stay protected, is to continue regularly producing high-quality, interesting, well edited content.