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Google’s Panda 4.0 Update

If you are running a real estate website (or frankly any type of website), you should be aware of Google’s Panda 4.0 update that occurred on May 20th, 2014. If you are unsure what this means for your website or you are still trying to piece together what Pandas and Google have in common, then you may want to continue reading.

The Basics

Google is a search engine that people use by searching in key words to find relevant websites. A typical search can yield thousands of results over numerous pages. An algorithm is used to rank the sites by deciding which sites contain the best quality content and will be most useful for the one searching. If your website has employed good search engine optimization practices, then your website will have a good ranking on the search list and be more prone to being discovered by potential clients or “web surfers”.

Since its introduction, google has used complex algorithms to find the best search results. This algorithm has been slightly modified over the years, but in 2011 it was significantly changed with the first Panda update. This update affected approximately 12% of search results, leaving sites with poor content in the dust. Google Panda 4.0, is the most recent of major changes to Google’s algorithm and may have influence over your site.

google-Panda-Update4What is Panda 4.0?

Released in May of 2014, Panda 4.0 is a significant update to Google algorithm that will be more effective at sorting out sites with low quality content. If you are operating a site that provides an abundance of current and useful information, as well as practicing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques like blogging, then your site should be okay and may improve in search ranking.

How Do I Know if it Affects Me?

The effects of Panda’s update will be seen in the following weeks and can be observed using Google Analytics. If you are unfamiliar with Google Analytics, it is a free service that shows the amount of people visiting and using services on your site. If you notice a significant decrease in traffic on your site, this is a good indication that the updated algorithm does not like your content. If this is not addressed, your website will be harder to find on a Google search and you will see a drop in business opportunity.

How to Improve Your Site

To recover from Panda 4.0 or to ensure that your site ranks well on a search, the most important thing is to have an abundance of unique and quality content coming from your site. Another effective approach is to frequently post quality blogs that link back to your main site. This helps expand your data, market your website, and keeps information current. All of these are important ingredients that Panda 4.0 likes to see. In worst case scenarios, you may need to completely remove your website and start from scratch. If you struggle with seeing improvement to site traffic, there are many SEO companies that can provide professional help to improve traffic to your site.

About Sean Matyja

Sean Matyja is an Associate Broker with Summit Sotheby's International Realty in Park City, Utah. Sean specializes in buying and selling luxury homes in Park City and Deer Valley. Sean currently serves as the chairperson on the Park City Board of Realtors' Marketing Committee, and serves on the Park City Board of Realtors' Statistics Committee.

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  • Sean – what were you results from this? any impact? any friends impacted?

  • Another approach is to use one of our mobile review pages to complement your existing website and SEO efforts. These mobile review pages give search engines (and your prospects) exactly what they want – rich, relevant content about your business and (very important) an ever expanding collection of customer reviews.

    More info at

    Full disclosure – I am the founder/CEO of RefGo.

    • Not sure exactly how you think this helps a sites seo? Putting high quality content onto another domain seldom helps anyone’s own seo..

      • Agree, and if you pick the wrong site to post your content on, bam, you could be banished.

      • Hi Drew – We provide a *complementary* microsite that is optimized for biz info (contact, hours, map, website link, social media links) and customer reviews. Consumers love reviews and so the search engines love reviews and so our pages rank well. Our pages are also mobile optimized, so we suspect they may rank better than non-mobile-optimized pages for mobile searches (TBD). In some cases we find a biz’s RefGo page ranks better than their regular website because the content is so much more focused. A biz’s RefGo page includes links to their regular website so there’s potential for some seo lift there too over time. Bottom line, we complement existing websites. It’s like an executive having a personal web *and* a LinkedIn page. Gets them two search results instead of one. Eg: Happy to chat more over the phone if you’re interested.

      • I thought I answered your question. Did someone remove my reply?

  • Picking an SEO company is not an easy task. Google is penalizing sites it deems are SPAM, and the people who are posted on those sites are penalized too.

    Many SEO firms used these sites, and many companies have been burned by SEO firms using these tactics, only to find out that what ever search engine ranking they had completely disappears as Google folds their legitimate company into the SPAMMERS category.

    Many of these sites considered themselves offering great content, although it is hard to track all posts and I guess some got too Spammy for Google.

    • There are far too many spam sites on the web in general, so I’m totally cool with it.

      • Agreed, and there are a lot of sites trying to fool Google by posting stuff that is for SEO only.

        So I think it is a good thing too, but it does make it tough when thinking about using an SEO company.

      • I would agree, so many content duplicated sites that offer zero value for the end user.

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