SERP Success, Pandas, Penguins and Penalties - Ten Things You Need To Know

Ten things you need to know if you’re going to understand how Google Panda works.

Understanding Google Panda has been written by the Yourcounty team who recovered from this non-manual penalty, so they are relative experts in the field. There isn't a definitive list of exactly what causes a website to fall foul of Google Panda, what we aim to do is share with you some general principals of the kind of things that are going to cause you problems with this particular algorithm. You should also consider that Panda operates in addition to the main algorithms including; Penguin, Exact Domain Name Match and Top Heavy (advertising and content in the fold).

The point of our 'Ten Things' guides is to try to pick out the essence of an issue and create some strong pointers that will help the reader to get to grips with the topic simply and quickly. All of the shared knowledge features are written by users with direct experience of the subject they are writing about, so they bring some valuable insight that you may be able to use. Our ten points are a fusion of some of the best advice we've seen published and our own practical experience. Just to repeat: the actual ranking criteria used by Google is not published, and in any case this is just one of the tools Google uses to rank websites.

  1. How Do You Know? First things first, unless your SERP fell on or close to the dates of a Google Panda update there may be a different cause for your problems. Check out the dates at:
  2. Accuracy and trust. Is the website generally and the pages individually trustworthy? Get an idea of what this means, both to the search engine and your own content.
  3. Duplication. Is the material on the website original, well written and accurate? Repeating or rehashing content from elsewhere appears to be a big problem. Repeating information across your own pages and your own websites may lead to lower SERP. Even if you are the originator of unique content you need to make sure no one else has copied (scraped) your work.
  4. Overlapping and Similar Content. Google Panda seems to be particularly hard on websites that have a range of similar but non-identical content with slight changes to keywords. Examples of this could be pages titled 'garden tools' 'tools for the garden' and perhaps 'garden implements and tools'. Particularly if all the pages have similar information.
  5. The Quality Of The Content. Is the content well written, free of errors and reliable? If you come across a number of pages on a website that are clearly not trustworthy there may be a problem now or in the future for rankings.
  6. Health And Medical Information. It seems that websites offering health related: advice, support, products or services are coming under particular scrutiny. If you're running such a site you'll need to make sure your credentials and qualifications are published.
  7. Advertising. In our experience an excessive number of advertisements seems to rank lower with Google Panda as well as the 'Top Heavy' algorithm. You'll now rarely find websites using more than three ads on a page (text or banner ads).
  8. Complaints. If a website has content so bad that a user might feel it had been a wasted visit and they'd like to complain about the content, loss of SERP may be the long term result.
  9. Simple Checks. If you view a webpage and consider the content you're reading seems good enough for an authoritative website (like the BBC for example). This suggests the website is going to avoid a Google Panda penalty.
  10. The Credit Card Check. A simple confidence test is; does the website inspire enough trust that you would leave your credit card details to make a purchase?

There is a wealth of material on this subject, you might like to start your research at

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