Google’s spam fighting algorithm, Panda, was originally launched in February of 2011 as an addition to its algorithm for ranking websites. The goal of Panda was to lower the rankings for low quality and thin sites, while increasing the rankings of sites with high quality, unique content. It has been refreshed every couple of months with updates that often go unnoticed for months at a time.
Despite its updates often going undetected by industry radar, this time the news is bigger: Panda is now integrated into Google’s core ranking algorithm.
So, what does it mean for your dealership?
First things first: Dealer.com has been mindful of Google’s algorithm changes – and catering to them – for almost half a decade. We’ve been prepared for Panda since before there was Panda. When the SEO industry spun into a tizzy when it was first released, we quietly sat back and watched our clients’ websites remain unfazed and their rankings remain very strong. Our clients’ competitors, on the other hand, saw traffic decreases due to poor content strategies. We’ve always followed a philosophy of catering to dealership websites’ users and creating content that provides answers to users’ questions. This is why we haven’t seen any negative impact from Panda updates.
Now, what does it mean that Panda is integrated into Google’s core ranking algorithm? To start, it means we won’t see another confirmed Panda update in the future. Google has built the Panda algorithm over four years and it is confident it can run with little to no hand-holding. This is why they baked it into the core algorithm. Google’s Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrew Lipattsev said in a Q&A session that Panda is now part of the core algorithm, and it means that webmasters don’t need to know how it runs any more. He stated that Panda’s been tested extensively and can run by itself without much worry.
There are still a LOT of questions about what this integration means for the future. Will there be any more major changes to Panda? Will Google reward attempts to repair and optimize site content and architecture, penalized by Panda, in real time (in the past, it took a good amount of time for a site to rebound following efforts to optimize)? Google Webmasters Trends Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed Panda is not yet in real time.
We’re monitoring for any news from Google that may answer some of these questions and will provide an update when things are clearer. If you’re performing SEO for your dealership on your own, ensure your content is unique, relevant, and of the utmost quality. If you have a plethora of doorway pages and thin content, you will want to reassess your content strategy and overhaul your existing content.
Pete Bruhn is the associate product manager, SEO at Dealer.com. He has 10 years of experience in the SEO & search marketing industry, seven while working at Dealer.com. He can be found on Twitter at @petebruhn and on G+ at google.com/+PeteBruhn.