The so called Panda Update that Google unrolled last year has, if nothing else, generated significant controversy in the SEO world. Since its unveiling last February, the impacts of Panda and its subsequent additions have wrecked havoc , particularly for ecommerce sites. The overall trend of Panda was to strengthen the position of sites such as Walmart and Amazon and to lower the ranking of smaller businesses.
Winners (~20% increase) among major sites
Losers (~20% drop) among major sites
Some sites were hit so badly that their business literally evaporated overnight. Organizations consisting of primarily these parties have pushed Google to modify their algorithm to allow for their former rankings. Hot sites such as CultOfMac and a few others have been successful in their lobby, but they are far and away the exceptions.
Is Panda Fair?
Many people debate whether or not Panda is fair, and, to some extent, there is validity to their question. Legitimate businesses and organizations that have earned their place in the world web have been hurt by the updates. Small family businesses, services, and non-profits have been wiped out. Additionally, one study found that nearly 10% of SEOs lost their jobs, and that an additional 25% feared losing theirs as well. There is certainly a lot to not like about Panda, particularly if your site was one that took a haircut.
The thing to remember though is that Google is a one trick pony. They have a brilliant, multifaceted model that encompasses many strategies. At the end of the day though, they’re a corporation that makes money from advertising that is directly dependent on the quality of their search results. That’s it. What makes quality search results? Put quite simply, ‘stuff that people want’. What that is more specifically entails quite a bit, but what Panda does is elevate superior content over inferior. It does a better job of delivering that ‘stuff’.
The Internet, in the bigger picture, is still in its infancy. Even in the past few years it has changed. As the Internet heats up, dynamic, entertaining, and original content is going to matter more than ever. Panda lessened the legitimacy given to different sites that we all intuitively recognize as empty shells when we see them: duplicate or non-existent content, shoddy designs, and covered in ads. The authority that businesses earned by obtaining back links from these sites took a blow as a result. People have wised up. SEO and branding are slowly merging into one, and the Panda update indicates that Google is making an increased effort to sort out which brands are worthy of the top spot from those that aren’t.