Panda 4.0 – Could content reap rewards?

Matt Cutts announced on twitter last night that Google are rolling out an update to the Panda algorithm. The tweet simply announced the update, causing speculation and a flood of questions from SEOs about it.

We have confirmation from Matt Cutts that the update is being rolled out, but no further information has surfaced. Some think it could be a minor update, some think it has the rumblings of a larger shift that could cause more turbulence in the SERPS. Either way, Panda hasn’t had a confirmed update since January 2013 so it’s definitely due one.

Panda was supposed to be a rolling algorithm change that worked dynamically to identify bad quality content and promote good, authoritative content. Panda has had countless updates (that we know of) right up until January 2013 from its release in February 2011, so this must be a big change to prompt a tweet from Matt Cutts on Panda to inform us of the change.

Google releasing an update to their Payday Loan algorithm (unrelated to Penguin or Panda) over the weekend didn’t help the rumour mill and sent analysts into overdrive when this started rumbling through the SERPS, with talk of a new Penguin update.

With all the speculation about imminent algorithm changes like Panda 4.0 it’s hard to tell what to look for, everyone should have gotten rid of spammy link profiles and paid links in order to recover from the latest Penguin update so that shouldn’t be a main factor in rankings.

This shouldn’t stop everyone constantly monitoring backlinks and proactively disavowing links that look spammy on a regular basis though, but that’s just good SEO practice. Nobody wants to end up like Rap Genius, who had a massive penalty for a spammy link profile in December.

Matt Cutts has lately been mentioning content a lot recently, and has pretty much declared war on guest blogging and content farms. He showed this with the disappearance on My Blog Guest from the rankings, tweeting that he has taken action against a large guest blogging network and warning about how spammy they look. In a recent webmaster tools video Matt Cutts said he would be cracking down on content farms, so if you have links to or from these it is probably a good idea to disavow them

Google wants to reward sites that are authoritative and have high quality content with high rankings, this has been made clear by Google for a while so every SEO worth their salt should have implemented some content plan.  For all good SEOs, this Panda update could be great news and could see some reward for the hard work put into content creation which may be reflected in the rankings.

With it being a Panda update, content is certainly going to be in the crosshairs but the question is to what extent? Will duplicate content limits be tightened? Will content with Google authorship be boosted? Content with anonymous authors be punished?

Watch this space, we will update when we know more about this update and its effects on the SERPs.