Google is the most influential search engine on the planet. Because of this, how Google operates is very often a crucial aspect of how webmasters build their sites. Google is constantly attempting to refine its results to give searchers the best results possible because the more useful people find search engines, the more they will use them and the more they use them, the more money search engines make. To refine these results, Google constantly makes invisible minor changes to how it assesses websites, with the occasional major update that fundamentally changes how the results are calculated and with this change, also changes how webmasters build their sites to get traffic from Google.
So, just what is Panda?
Panda was the most recently paradigm changing update Google made in its search results algorithm. The result of this paradigm shift was felt around the Internet as previously successful sites found themselves buried deep in the search engine results while some sites that were struggling found themselves rapidly moving up the results because they were built on solid fundamentals.
Why did Panda hurt sites?
Previous to the Panda update, the ultimate determiner of a site’s search position was how many backlinks the webmaster was able to build pointing to the site. Because of this, many webmasters focused the vast majority of their efforts on building more backlinks from any source possible. Many of these sites had nothing in their favor but a multitude of backlinks. When Panda made other factors more relevant, the sites built with this strategy dropped dramatically and the webmasters of these sites have been scrambling ever since to try and get back to the glory they enjoyed pre-Panda.
How did Panda help sites?
Panda did two related things: It put far more emphasis on the actual content of a website, meaning sites with very little or very unfocused content were suddenly disadvantaged compared to sites with real, focused content. Panda simultaneously penalized (or stopped giving credit for, depending on how you look at things) links from pages with no complementary content. In other words, those backlinks from pages with very little content or completely unrelated content that webmasters had been working for years to build were now totally irrelevant.
As Google’s focus is creating a satisfactory experience for web searchers, it is likely that future updates for the foreseeable future will build on what Panda started, adding even more emphasis on how relevant a site and its links are and discounting the value of irrelevant backlinks even more.