Panda 4.1 is Live: Here’s what you need to know

The latest version of Google’s Panda algorithm rolled out late last year — its 27th update since launching in early 2011 — and we’ve been watching how the change affected sites across every category.

According to Google, the update was designed give small and medium-sized sites with high-quality content more edge than before, which is increasingly crucial as small businesses begin to rise all over the landscape. It’s a positive opportunity for sites who follow Google’s content guidelines, but it’s also gone even further to down rank pages that aren’t in pristine condition.

Affiliate sites took a deeper hit than they did in previous updates. This is especially true of sites with broken or blank pages; if users returned to the search screen mere seconds after landing on a page, it’s likely that Panda will take that as invitation to down rank. Similarly, sites that engaged in keyword stuffing seemed to experience problems with Panda 4.1. It’s just one more reason to keep your content in tip-top condition and use keywords as useful moments for readers rather than deceptive tools that serve only to boost rankings.

What’s more, according to Google, those all-too-familiar content farms finally took a major hit. Pages that are crammed with generally unhelpful how-to pieces cribbed from other sources with no original writing or reporting simply aren’t going to work in the modern search world. Plus, if your site includes ads that aren’t clearly labeled as such — in other words, if a user believes that a link is content-based rather than commercial — you’ve probably been blasted by the long arm of 4.1 and will continue to get hit as more updates roll out.

Stay tuned for more info as Panda continues to evolve!