Google has released two major algorithm updates this week: Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0. The purpose of these algorithm updates is to eliminate low-quality websites and spammy queries from Google SERPs. While there are still many questions surrounding both algo updates, the main question on everyone's mind is: "How will this affect my company's website?"
Information on both updates is pretty bleak at the moment, since the updates have just been announced, but there are a few things that stand out about each.
Payday Loan Algorithm Updates
The original Payday Loan algorithm update launched on June 11, 2013, with the goal of targeting and banning "spammy queries" from search results, such as "payday loans, pornographic and other heavily spammed queries." Payday Loan 2.0 - released May 2014 - has a wider, international impact than the original update. While Payday Loan 2.0 affects queries in different languages, Google has announced that it impacts English queries by about 0.2% more.
Update (June 2014): Google announced Payday Loan 3.0 just months after version 2.0 was released. Payday Loan 2.0 specifically targeted spammy sites, while Payday Loan 3.0 targeted spammy queries.
Update (May 2016): Google announced that it is banning Payday Loan ads from AdWords. This means that it will no longer accept and display ads that promote payday loans that requiring repayment within 60 days (this update will not affect companies offering loans like mortgages, car loans, student loans, etc.).
Panda 4.0 Algorithm Update
The Panda algorithm update targets websites with low quality content. Panda 4.0 - released May 2014 - focuses on decreasing search rankings of low-quality websites and returning better quality websites at the top of SERPs. Based on industry experts, Panda 4.0 is less of a refresh and more of a full algorithm update. A noticeable, and positive, difference of Panda 4.0 is that it is much softer than past Panda updates. In the past, Panda has sometimes wiped out websites with more valued information; Panda 4.0 could help new, high-quality websites struggling to break through to the top of SERPs.
Update (September 2014): Google announces a "slow rollout" of Panda 4.1, which affects ~3.5% of search queries. This update is supposed to be more precise and will help high-quality SMB websites to rank better. This rollout also means that anyone who was penalized by past Panda updates and has improved their content since can emerge again, if they made the right changes.
Update (July 2015): Google announces Panda 4.2, which is a Panda algo refresh. Like version 4.1, Panda 4.2 seems to be a slow rollout, affecting ~2-3% of search queries. While it's too late now to make any content quality changes since Panda is already rolling out, you should always be creating fresh, quality content that will benefit your users, instead of waiting until Google updates their algorithm.
What's with all these algo updates?
Both the Payday Loan and Panda algorithm updates focused on removing spammy websites/queries from SERPs and lifting websites with high-quality content. Therefore, it's clear that Google's algorithm will no longer tolerate black-hat SEO tactics. In order to rank well in SERPs, your website must not only meet Google's stricter search guidelines but must also solve the needs of your users.
Optimizing for search engines is not enough. You must now optimize for your user.
How do you do this? Execute USER First digital strategies.
Read more about implementing USER First search strategies: