Google PandaAll the talk over Google algorithms is about Penguin 3.0 – the most anticipated update since all this fuss started back in 2011. But it wasn’t long ago that Panda 4.1 rolled so it’s important website owners don’t get too distracted by Google’s latest refresh.

Panda 4.1 hit the web on September 25 and reports say some brands lost upwards of 90% organic search presence. Which means the algorithm that targets thin content still means business – and you don’t want to get on the wrong side of it. So what have we learnt about Panda 4.1 over the last month and what does it mean for your content strategy?

What kind of content does Panda target?

Sadly, we can’t tell you the secrets of Google’s tightly guarded algorithm formulas (we’d love to know ourselves!). But we can look back at the history of Panda to narrow down which types of content and websites the algorithm targets.

● Thin content – which refers to sites that lack overall content or pieces that offer no real value to the user.
● Duplicate content – from incorrectly syndicating content to outright stealing it from original owners.
● Spun content – where an original article is “spun” by a machine generator to create “original” but low-quality content.
● Keyword stuffing – once a popular trick where content creators forced keywords into their content.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but hopefully you can see the overall picture. If your content isn’t genuine and original, you could be vulnerable to a Panda penalty.

How Panda 4.1 has hit the web

Panda 4.1 seems to have stepped up Google’s efforts again affiliate sites which act purely as gateways to another website. Affiliate sites are fine as long as they offer unique content and justify their existence. Affiliate sites and landing which have nothing original to share or simply direct users on to another page appear to have been hit harder than previous Panda iterations.

Another type of victim seems to be the large collection of general information sites out there. Reports suggest websites like Answers.com that have a very braod collection of info are feeling the effects of Panda 4.1. Perhaps this isn’t a surprise and the overall quality of these sites is up for debate. But the interesting point is that sites with a stronger niche and quality content are rising up the search rankings.

This is great news for small and local businesses, who often come with a more focused target audience. If you focus your content efforts on a more specific niche and publish a regular stream of quality stuff then there is every chance you could benefit from future Panda updates. Research your audience and really learn what problems they have and which questions they need answering. Create content that meets their needs and you could learn to love Panda as larger and less focused online brands feel the heat.