Google rolled out the latest update to its Panda content-ranking algorithm last night, and already Internet hucksters are quaking in their boots. Panda 3.9, the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between the good guys with high-quality websites and the bad guys who build content farms and other low-quality sites of that ilk, will affect around 1 percent of all searches, Google said in a Twitter post.
The Panda algorithm, which is one of many algorithms that Google uses to rank Web content in its search results, debuted in 2011. Its release was part of Google's determination to improve the quality of its search results and improve user experience by eliminating websites that contain low-quality content.
Almost immediately, content farms and other websites with poorly written, keyword-stuffed information lost rank or disappeared completely from Google search results. The change affected about 12 percent of all searches, Google said.
This is the ninth iteration of the Panda algorithm. The previous update, 3.8, occurred on June 25. The algorithm got its name from Navneet Panda, a Google engineer.
In its tweet, Google also included a link to its guide to building high-quality sites.
"The changes to the Panda algorithm can have a positive impact on a company's website ranking if taken into consideration," said Pete Goold, managing director of Punch Communications, a PR, social media and SEO agency. "However, the negatives of not adhering to the guidelines can be costly, ultimately leading to a lack of online visibility which can affect a business's bottom line."
The enemy, Google is quick to note, is not the practice of search engine optimization itself.
"Google has said before that search engine optimization, or SEO, can be positive and constructive — and we're not the only ones," Matt Cutts, a Google distinguished engineer, wrote on the site's webmasters blog. "Effective search engine optimization can make a site more crawlable and make individual pages more accessible and easier to find. The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs. We also want the 'good guys' making great sites for users, not just algorithms, to see their effort rewarded. To that end, we’ve launched Panda Changes that successfully returned higher-quality sites in search results."