A Complete Guide To The Google Panda Algorithm Update


Table of Contents

The update introduced in 2011 was meant to eradicate or diminish the low quality of Google’s organic search results page. It was designed to reward high-quality websites and eliminate black hat SEO techniques or web spam. During that era, there was a rapid rise of complaints from users regarding “content farms” along with other webspam techniques becoming rampant. The Panda algorithm update was initially known as a “Farmer”. In the following blog, we will make you understand the purposes and updates of the algorithm. 

  • Panda was initially rolled out separately from the core algorithm but was then integrated into it on an unconfirmed date in March 2012.
  • Panda update was named after Google staffer Navneet Panda.

Since 2011, the algorithm kept being updated, which had several drastic effects with websites being penalized. Fast forward to 2021, Google and several search engines focus on improving user experience and offering good quality content that resonates with the audience. Since 2016, Google has announced that the Panda update has become a major part of the new core algorithm. The update played a pivotal role in determining the quality of the website while ranking. 

 We hope the information and improvements in the following parts will help you comprehend the algorithm much better!

What Does The Google Panda Update Do? 

 It was an update to combat several black hat techniques and webspam activities. Its main goal was to improve user experience by ridding top search spots of web spam pages and punishing websites with low-quality content. In a nutshell, it targeted low-quality websites by lowering their rank. It took into account several factors that helped to enhance the user experience and reward websites with fresh quality content: 

  • Website Reputation
  • Website design 
  • Loading speed
  • Good quality content that does not deceive the audience

Triggers of Panda Update 

Duplicate Content

Multiple instances of copied information on the Internet. When many pages on your website have the same text with little to no variation, this can lead to duplicate content problems. The Panda update would rank these websites low, which consisted of duplicate information. 

Low-Quality Content

Websites that lack good quality content or whose information doesn’t resonate with the audience would be poorly ranked. 

Lack of Website Authority

The panda update would drastically impact websites whose information is deceptive or not verified. Several sites aimed to create trustworthy content and are recognised as official sites that would offer valuable content that stands out among others. 

Low-Quality User-Generated Content

It would refer to websites that lack authoritative information or blogs with guest posts, grammatical errors or inappropriate content. 

Content Farming

Numerous pages of poor quality, are frequently compiled from other websites. An example of a content farm is a website that uses numerous writers at low pay to produce brief articles that address a wide range of search engine queries. As a result, the website has a body of content that lacks authority and reader value because its sole objective is to rank highly in search engines for every search query. 

When a website promises to deliver valuable content that offers insights, it might create disappointment when it fails. For example, when clicking on a shopping website that promises to provide discounts, there might be no discounts or coupons, leading to more bounce rates. 

Keyword Stuffing 

Your main priority is creating original content free from pointless keyword stuffing, poor links, and other antiquated SEO techniques. Not only will Google place your website lower than other sites with better content, but any visitors who find your site will likely feel discouraged to engage with your company based on poorly written content.

What Was the Main Purpose of The Google Panda Update? 

When the panda update was introduced, several websites aimed to create good quality content and rank better on the organic search results page. They didn’t want their websites to get hit or penalised by the Panda algorithm. 

  • Each page should serve the user’s needs, not only increase its keyword ranking. To create content of the calibre your audience and Google desire, you should keep a specific buyer profile and stage of the buyer’s journey.
  •  Check frequently for duplicate content, and avoid including content that affects the website’s ranking. In a nutshell, remove overhauling duplicate content. 
  • Keep an eye on your ad ratio to ensure that too many ads do not negatively affect your page’s load time or user experience.
  • To ensure that the website is operating at its peak efficiency and provide the greatest user experience possible, employ Google Webmaster tools.

How can I know if I’ve been Hit by a Google Panda Update? 

One of the major indicators that will determine if your website has been dropped by Panda update would be the sudden drop in your website’s organic search traffic, search engine rankings, or visibility. These crucial factors will help you ascertain if your website is affected by Panda update penalization. 

There are several; factors you need to consider that can affect your site rankings. It can be due to the competitors outranking you or any spam activities leading to penalties due to the reports issued. If there is a loss of rankings, you can check the following table, which lists certain practices not being obliged under the guidelines. 

Let us unravel the Google Panda update myths

  • Panda update isn’t about duplicate content: It is vital to understand that the panda update is not about the same content; rather, it is about encouraging to create creative and valuable content for the audience and avoid duplication, which can lead to low ranking results. 
  • Panda & user-generated content: The panda update doesn’t target the user-generated content. Rather, it can target sites that produce spammy guest posts filled with spam or low-quality content that doesn’t resonate valuable to the target audience. Understanding that the algorithm wants business to focus on a quality perspective is vital. 
  • All pages need to be of high quality: One of the biggest myths regarding the panda update is that all the pages need to be of high quality; if not, the whole website will suffer with low rankings or affect the organic search results. 

Panda updates: 

  • Panda 1.0: February 24, 2011- The algorithm was introduced. Upto 12% of the search queries were affected by the update. Search engines cracked down on pages with low-quality content, content farms and many more. 
  • Panda 2.0: April 11, 2011- The first update to the core panda algorithm. It incorporated additional signals that helped search engines to initiate action on spammy websites. 
  • Panda 2.2: June 21, 2011- The major goal was to enhance or improve scraper detection and remove plagiarised content. 
  • Panda 2.4: August 12, 2011- This update affected the sites globally. The update rolled out to several English-speaking and non -English-speaking countries, affecting around 6-9% of search queries. 
  • Panda 2.5: September 28 – October 13, 2011- Google later announced minor updates. It was related to Panda-related flux details. 
  • Panda 3.1: 2011-10-19- Lately announced by Google, this change only had a minimal impact on websites, affecting fewer than 1% of them.
  • Panda 3.2: 2011/01/18– Google confirmed, but did not publicize, that it had made some modest modifications to the algorithm.
  • Panda 3.3: 2012-02-27- Another rather minor update targeted artificial link-building strategies and was validated by Google.
  • Panda 3.4: March 23 2012.- The modification had an impact on 1.6% of search queries.
  • Panda 3.5: 2012-04-19- The small refresh in the update wasn’t announced. 
  • Panda 3.6: 2012-04-27 – The impact of this little update, which came out just over a week following 3.5, was also minimal.
  • Panda 3.7: June 8 2012 – It only affected less than 1% of search results; this update had a greater impact than a few others. Sites affected by the initial Panda upgrade seemed to be more affected.
  • Panda 3.8: 2012-06-25- No algorithmic adjustments were made; this was merely a data refresh. One percent of all search queries were impacted globally.
  • Panda 3.9: 2012-07-24- Another formally disclosed upgrade, version 3.9, impacted 1% of search searches.
  • Panda #20: September 27, 2012- It was an actual update to the core algorithm rather than a refresh. 2.4% of English search queries were affected. 
  • Panda #22: November 21, 2012- Though it was a small refresh, the update had affected 1.3% of search queries compared to the past two updates. 
  • Panda # 23, December 21, 2012– Even though it was a smaller refresh, 1.3 per cent of search queries were affected, which was a bigger impact than the last two upgrades.
  • Panda #24 January 22, 2013 – Another small update that only impacts 1.2 per cent of requests.
  • Panda #25: 2013-03-14 – This modification in SEO tactics was rumoured to be the final manual Panda update but was never verified.
  • Google Dance, July 11, 2013- It was not an official update announced. Rather, it was an announcement stating that the Panda algorithm would be updated monthly. It wasn’t included in the algorithm but would update monthly with slower rollouts. 
  • Panda 4.0: May 19, 2014– Although evidence indicates that the update started going out on May 19, Matt Cutts announced this significant update on May 20. It targeted thin and aggregated content and affected other websites. In total, the change affected 7.5% of English search searches.
  • Panda 4.1: September 23, 2014 – An official announcement and confirmation were made that a few more signals are found to assist Panda in identifying low-quality content more precisely. As a result, more high-quality small- and medium-sized sites are ranked highly. The algorithm targeted affiliate pages with incomplete information, pages with an excessive number of affiliate links, and pages with broken links in search results. 

How Do I Recover From The Panda Penalty? 

If the Panda update has hit you, you will notice a sudden decline in traffic, online visibility, and a major drop in the keywords in the search results. However, you can perform the folwing guidelines to recover from the penalty: 

  •  Check your website for redundant pages or extra pages that don’t provide any value to the user. As a possible sign of the same material, look for multiple Title Tags.
  • Remove or update these pages to make them more valuable to the reader.
  • Ensure your website provides a good user experience and doesn’t have too many adverts.
  • You should notice your site’s ranking improvement when Google updates its algorithm.


websites that regularly post high-quality, unique material have little to fear from this upgrade. However, if your website has engaged in questionable tactics, it may have already been penalized by Panda. From a practical business perspective, creating a brand respected as an authority in its industry and creating a website that develops a reputation as a reliable resource due to its high-quality content are your best bets for avoiding Panda.


Sorav Jain

Sorav Jain is one of the leading and top-notch digital marketing influencers who kickstarted his career as an SEO specialist and became the driving force behind establishing echoVme Digital, one of the top digital marketing agencies in Chennai. At echoVme Digital, Sorav Jain works closely with his team of top-notch professionals with expertise in several domains of digital marketing, bringing the best ideas to the table with several years of experience. He founded Digital Scholar in 2019, an educational institute that offers top-notch digital marketing training for several enthusiasts

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