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The Latest Google Algorithm Updates: Panda and Payday Loan

Morgan Meade
Morgan Meade / May 27, 2014
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What do pandas and payday loans have in common?

They are the names of two Google algorithms which were confirmed as updated within the past week or so.

Although the internet is abuzz with the percentage of English search queries and specific sites affected, it may be hard to decipher why these algorithm updates matter.

Here is a rundown of key facts to get you caught up to speed on the very latest google algorithm updates: Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0.

Pandas are Pretty Vicious, Actually

What is the Google Panda Algorithm? This formula, brought to you by Google, targeted sites composed of spammy, low-quality pages. Junk articles, duplicate content and pages built specifically for SEO are also known as thin-content. The Panda Algorithm was meant to penalize poor web presences with thin content in order to unearth the real gems of the web.

How to Identify a Panda

Taming the Panda. Some webmasters noted that previous iterations of Panda penalized sites with great content, but that were unfortunately poorly put-together and hard for search spiders to crawl. These previously unlucky (or just unorganized) people may need a crash course in information architecture, but fortunately have bought more time as they reportedly saw a traffic uptick after Panda 4.0 last week.

On the other hand, agencies who are handed hot-mess websites without being able to perform a full overhaul of their construction are thanking their lucky stars right now. Which side are you on?

Unsure how to detect a Panda punch versus a Penguin penalty? Here's a great example of the kind of useful content Google loves, a guide to identify if you were been hit by Panda in 4 steps.

"Payday Loan" Hits Link Sharks

The payday loan update is of a little less importance to marketers for normal industries. It's meant to improve results for queries especially saturated with spammy results, like payday loans. Most of those hit by these penalties are actually out of the United States, and those in other industries with questionable objectives. (If you are a payday lender who at least practices white hat SEO, well... I guess it could be worse.)

Now, members of these industries will see some benefit from more "legitimate" search results pages.

Why You (or Your SEO) Should Welcome Updates

Matt Cutts Panda 4.0

You and/or your agency should actually be happy about algorithm updates, if you are practicing good content marketing and clean, white hat SEO tactics centered on usability. Avoiding these are like competing clean in a sport like baseball. Your competitors could have been beating you for a while using steroids, but come drug testing time, the cat's outta the bag.

These algorithm updates are a lot like unplanned drug tests, which help knock the bad guys out of the top search results. However, working in a highly-competitive industry can make it very hard to resist using less than immaculate practices in order to get to the top rankings quickly.

How to Avoid Negative Impact from Algorithms

Whether you're the firm in charge of large clients' strategies, or you have an agency who presents you with a list of choices from pure white to shades of gray, remember ranking is always more of a marathon than a sprint. If you push too hard too early, or cut corners, Panda will come back to bite you eventually.


Panda should be harmless to white hat SEO's. Panda should be harmless to white hat SEO's.

Playing nice, being creative with content, and keeping your site spotless will pay off in the long run when those sites sporting shades of gray get docked. Business owners reading this should use these tips to recognize an agency operating in line with industry standards.

Be patient; take the pressure off your SEO firm to deliver immediate results, or face the consequences!

Those who consistently provide:

  • Unique content for your own site or relevant, expert articles written for others
  • Valuable, interesting, or entertaining information
  • Well-organized, easily navigable sites

Without implementing the following "black hat" tactics:

  • Link baiting in spammy articles or buying links
  • Keyword stuffing in content or meta data
  • Using gateway or doorway pages only search engines can see

...should be good to go when the next algorithm strikes. Have you seen any effect on your SERP rankings in the past couple weeks? You are welcome to humblebrag about upticks in rankings in the comments below!

Related Reading:

If you're interested, here's more about the history of Google algorithms from Moz.

We also discussed the implications of the Hummingbird algorithm here.

Looking for ways to broadcast and measure the success of your white hat content marketing startegy? Sarah wrote an awesome intro on the benefits of


Inbound Marketing Consultants | NR Media Group