Google Panda

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Google's Google Panda is a major change to the company's search results ranking algorithm that was first released in February 2011. The change aimed to lower the rank of "low-quality sites" or "thin sites",[1] in particular "content farms",[2] and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results.

CNET reported a surge in the rankings of news websites and social networking sites, and a drop in rankings for sites containing large amounts of advertising.[3] This change reportedly affected the rankings of almost 12 percent of all search results.[4] Soon after the Panda rollout, many websites, including Google's webmaster forum, became filled with complaints of scrapers/copyright infringers getting better rankings than sites with original content. At one point, Google publicly asked for data points to help detect scrapers better.[5] In 2016, Matt Cutts, Google's head of webspam at the time of the Panda update, commented that "with Panda, Google took a big enough revenue hit via some partners that Google actually needed to disclose Panda as a material impact on an earnings call. But I believe it was the right decision to launch Panda, both for the long-term trust of our users and for a better ecosystem for publishers."[2]

Google's Panda received several updates after the original rollout in February 2011, and their effect went global in April 2011. To help affected publishers, Google provided an advisory on its blog,[6] thus giving some direction for self-evaluation of a website's quality. Google has provided a list of 23 bullet points on its blog answering the question of "What counts as a high-quality site?" that is supposed to help webmasters "step into Google's mindset".[7] It has been incorporated in Google's core algorithm since 2015.[8]

The name "Panda" comes from Google engineer Navneet Panda, who developed the technology that made it possible for Google to create and implement the algorithm.[9][4]

Ranking factors[edit]

The Google Panda patent (patent 8,682,892), filed on September 28, 2012, was granted on March 25, 2014. The patent states that Google Panda creates a ratio with a site's inbound links, and reference queries, search queries for the site's brand. That ratio is then used to create a sitewide modification factor. The sitewide modification factor is then used to create a modification factor for a page based upon a search query. If the page fails to meet a certain threshold, the modification factor is applied and, therefore, the page would rank lower in the search engine results page.[10]

Google Panda affected the ranking of an entire site or a specific section, rather than just the individual pages on a site.[11]


For the first two years, Google Panda's updates were rolled out about once a month, but Google stated in March 2013 that future updates would be integrated into the algorithm and would therefore be continuous and less noticeable.[12][13]

Google released a "slow rollout" of Panda 4.2 starting on July 18, 2015.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How Google Panda & Places Updates Created A Rollercoaster Ride For IYP Traffic". Search Engine Land. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  2. ^ a b O'Reilly, Tim (November 16, 2016). "Media in the age of algorithms". O'Reilly Media. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  3. ^ Testing Google's Panda algorithm: CNET analysis,, April 18, 2011
  4. ^ a b TED 2011: The 'Panda' That Hates Farms: A Q&A With Google’s Top Search Engineers,, March 3, 2011
  5. ^ "Google Losing War With Scraper Sites, Asks For Help". Search Engine Watch.
  6. ^ "Another step to reward high-quality sites". Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.
  7. ^ "More guidance on building high-quality sites". Google. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  8. ^ 1.3kshares; 78kreads. "A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update: 2011-21". Search Engine Journal. Retrieved December 2, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Google Panda at Brafton
  10. ^ Panda, Navneet. "US Patent 1,864". USPTO. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  11. ^ van der Graaf, Peter (November 3, 2011). "Panda DNA: Algorithm Tests on the Google Panda Update". Search Engine Watch.
  12. ^ Schwartz, Barry. "Google: Panda To Be Integrated Into The Search Algorithm (Panda Everflux)". Search Engine Land. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  13. ^ "Google Algorithm Change History". Moz. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  14. ^ "Google Panda 4.2 Is Here; Slowly Rolling Out After Waiting Almost 10 Months". Search Engine Land. Retrieved July 22, 2015.