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How Google Panda 4.0 and PayDay Loan 2.0 will affect SEO

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Google Panda 4.0

Recently Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that Google had released its Google Panda 4.0 algorithm. This is a major algorithm update and not just a data refresh, which means that Google has probably made significant changes to how Panda identifies websites from now on.

Google Panda History

Google Panda had been designed to prevent sites with poor quality content from showing up on Google’s top search results and provide searchers with the best results possible.

The last confirmed Panda update was on January 22, 2013 and had affected about 1.2% of English queries. This time it is affecting approximately 7.5% of English queries and different languages to varying extents.

Panda 4.0 is considered to be a softer, gentler algorithm change that worked well for only some sites. Google plans to lay the groundwork for future changes in this direction.

Sites that have been affected by this update

A study of this list by Search metrics reveals that one of the biggest casualties was eBay, which lost a huge amount of traffic from Google. Another was Ask.com.

In a recent blog, Barry Schwartz said that even press release sites like PRweb, Newswire, Business Wire and PRLog seem to have lost significant ranking through Google.

From the above image, we see that PRweb had a significant drop in traffic: 71%.

The winners’ list shows that small business sites have found favor with Google after the Panda update, and many of them have seen an incredible increase in traffic to their websites. Sites that had lost their footing in rankings despite having good quality content because of the Panda 3.0 update benefitted from Panda 4.0.

How does this affect SEO?

Until now, we have observed evident changes like:

Rank difference: There would be a considerable difference in the rankings on Google. Loss/gain of traffic to the site: Some of the sites lost almost 50%-75% traffic overnight while some gained substantially.

How to overcome the Google Panda 4.0 effect

Listed below are some solutions to counter the impact of Google Panda 4.0:

Have unique and fresh content on your website. Keep in mind that content needs to be generated for users and not search engines. Exclude keyword hoarding. Do not target all the keywords to one page. Use a combination of long tail/conversational and generic keywords. Remove duplicate content. Do not use keyword stuffed title tags. Keep it natural. Do not overuse keyword rich internal links and keyword rich footer links. Removing doorway pages and cloaking. Avoid risky affiliate marketing setups

Please remember recovery can take awhile if you have been hit.

Google Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0

Along with the Panda update, Google rolled out its Payday Loan algorithm 2.0 that targets ‘very spammy queries’. This is the second version of the Payday Loan algorithm, which is used to combat specific search queries like payday loans that tend to have a high number of extremely spammy results. This algorithm is not related to the Google Panda or Penguin updates.

Payday Loan algorithm 2.0 is a continuation of Google’s quest to clean up search queries. The algorithm was rolled out worldwide, affecting different languages to different degrees. It has affected 0.2% of English queries. An advantage is that general queries are likely to receive better search results while preventing the appearance of low quality sites.

Recently, spam results started to reappear in payday loans’ Google SERP’s:

Google Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0

Google Payday Loan algorithm 3.0 was released on June 12, 2014. At SMX Advanced Matt Cutts announced that this would target terms like [payday loans], [casinos] and other forms of highly spammy queries. Payday Loan algorithm 2.0, had been rolled out a week earlier targeted spammy sites.

However, Matt did not shed much light on the difference between spammy sites and spammy queries.

Payday Loan History

The search engine’s original Payday Loan algorithm was first released on June 11, 2013. It impacted roughly 0.3% of US queries and around 4% of Turkish queries, where the volume of webspam is said to be higher.

Last year, it was noticed that for the search term ‘Payday loans’, a completely different set of results were appearing on the SERPs each day. The Payday loan companies were using domains that consisted of slightly outdated specific search queries. These queries were likely to have a high number of extremely spammy results. In order to keep the best Payday loan companies on top of the SERPs, Google released the Payday Loan algorithm.

How does this affect SEO?

Removal of the sites from Google SERPs that have spammy content on their site Loss of rankings on Google SERPs Decrease in traffic to the website

How to overcome the Payday Loan effect

Avoid optimizing for any terms that would be considered ‘spammy queries’ Do not use spammy methods – like cloaking, hacked sites/hacked content, leveraging Google+ accounts and leveraging expired domains – to promote your website Have original, quality content on the website Do not stuff keywords during optimization. Target 2-3 Keywords for a page. You can use conversational or long tail keywords. Keep the title and description as natural as possible.

Have anything to add to this? Post your comments below.

Contributed by Susanna Verghese, Junior SEO Analyst

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Did Google Really Push Out The Pay Day Loan Algorithm Or Was It …

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As I reported from the airport Thursday night at Search Engine Land, Google’s Matt Cutts said the Payday Loan Algorithm was rolling out but truth is, I haven’t seen signs of it.

In fact, I’ve asked many folks in the black hat and spammy categories about this and they’ve seen nothing. There is only one site I see reporting any changes and even there I am not convinced.

As you know, the Google Payday Loan 3.0 algorithm was released, targeting spammy queries over spammy sites – whatever that means. But even though it began rolling out Thursday night, as Matt Cutts said on Twitter – I do not see reports from within the community about it.

What I do see are sites not in the spammy category reporting major changes in their rankings. The ongoing WebmasterWorld thread has folks complaining of major shifts starting Thursday night/Friday – but they are not in the spammy categories.

Here are some complaints:

I’m not in a spammy category (consumer electronics) and my site was pushed down for no apparent reason with this update. Seems Google messed something up.
I’m not in a spammy category. I’ve been decimated sad We can’t pay our bills now.

Meanwhile the site that never gets updated, that rips off other content got a nice boost. Way to go.

Some benefited, as you would imagine:

We don’t know what Google classifies as “spammy”. But I’d say consumer electronics queries might indeed fall into that category. Take a look how many (legit and automated) sites are out there.

I had a nice boost on June 12th. Consumer electronics too, with high quality indepth (often 6000+ words) articles.

A senior member I think has it right, saying this was a slight modification to the Panda 4 algorithm:

I’ve noticed a slight drop in traffic since Thursday.

I’ve compared my (low level) bing and yahoo traffic to google and as best I can tell it seems just related to google.

I benefited from the recent Panda 4.0. A couple of other people posting here have have mentioned slight drops in traffic and a positive Panda 4 effect.

I’d bet that Google has tweaked the Panda 4 algo.

In regard to the PayDay algo, I don’t think that would much apply to my content.

Scanning the Black Hat World forums, there is very little chatter there. Most of the chatter is asking, did you see anything? Where most people are saying, “I saw some minor fluctuations for a few of my sites but really nothing major” and the like.

I asked Matt Cutts on Twitter if there really was a PayDay Loan 3.0 and didn’t get a response:

I suspect what most of you are seeing is a small update to Panda 4.0 and not Pay Day Loan specific. But I am not Google and I do not have inside information.

Forum discussion at Twitter, Cre8asite Forums, WebmasterWorld and Black Hat World .

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Google Targets Spammy Queries With Payday Loans Algorithm …

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If you do SEO for websites in any market areas that tend to produce highly spammy search results, then you should be aware that over the weekend Google released an update to their algorithm most commonly referred to as the “payday loans update.”

This update, which was designed to combat specific search queries that tend to have a high number of extremely spammy results, saw a refresh that was fairly noticeable to many algorithm watchers and webmasters.

Webmasters started noticing the change over the weekend, leading to speculation about whether it was Panda, Penguin, or something else entirely. However, Google confirmed to Search Engine Watch that it was indeed the payday loans algo that was updated and released.

“Over the weekend we began rolling out a new algorithmic update,” a Google spokesperson told SEW. “The update was neither Panda nor Penguin – it was the next generation of an algorithm that originally rolled out last summer for very spammy queries.”

This update, which came shortly before Google began rolling out Panda 4.0 yesterday, affects an unknown percentage of search queries. However, like the previous update, the next generation update affected international queries more substantially than English queries, as part of their crackdown on international spam. More details are slowly coming out regarding what has been affected, and non-English sites are definitely seeing the changes.

The first-generation update was released in June 2013, and got its name because payday loans was one of the queries that was targeted and affected by the change. It affects many markets and areas outside of the payday loan search space, specifically targeting high value, highly spammed search results.


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