Content marketing & the Google algorithm updates Panda 4.0 and PayDay Loan 2.0

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2 days ago, Matt Cutts of the Google web spam team announced the launch of two Google algorithm updates. These algorithms are Panda 4.0 and PayDay Loan 2.0. For the past week, the SEO community has been in turmoil, as these updates were already visible last weekend. What are the effects of the updates and what does that mean for content marketing?

Crispy Content | Panda 4.0 & PayDay Loan 2.0

Crispy Content | Panda 4.0 & PayDay Loan 2.0

The Google algorithms are continuously adapted. We already know that smaller adjustments are made to the Panda algorithm every month. However, both the version numbers Panda 4.0 and PayDay Loan 2.0 and Matt Cutts’ official announcement of the algorithm roll-outs indicate that these updates will result in significant changes to the visibility in Google’s search engine results.

The Google algorithm update Panda 4.0

The Panda update was first rolled out in March 2011 and it hit many websites like a bullet. Ever since, this Google algorithm has focused on the content of websites. Pages with little or duplicate content – i.e. texts that can be found in the same form elsewhere on the internet – had to swallow hard. This also includes a text that is used in several places on the same website. More about duplicate content in our glossary.

In this illustration from an article in “Search Engine Land”, we can see that some websites have yet to recover from the first Panda update 2 years ago.

Searchengineland.com | Panda Algorithm LaunchCrispy Content | Searchengineland | Panda

Panda 4.0 follows the same path. The initial results show that once again, websites with high-quality content are the clear winners of these updates.

The US website Search Engine Journal reports that the job portal Glassdoor.com has achieved a traffic increase of more than 100% and the health site Emedicinehealth.com recorded an amazing 500% increase. eBay.com is one of the big losers with visibility losses of over 33%. Now eBay is certainly not short of content. The problem is that much of this content is not unique – many product descriptions are copy-and-paste jobs.

The local German sites experience a similar effect under these new algorithms. According to the measurements by SEO tool provider Sistrix, eBay.de also loses a third of its visibility. Katalog-Stadt.com and Meine-erste-Homepage.com have been affected even more severely with losses above 50%.

Yet, Panda 4.0 is not responsible for all of the SERP shake-up..

Das Google-Algorithmus-Update PayDay Loan 2.0

The old adage holds true for many websites: It never rains, but it pours. Google sent PayDay Loan 2.0 into the race alongside Panda 4.0.


This Google algorithm was first rolled out in June 2013 and it punishes spam websites with ranking losses all the way to invisibility. Poor content is one thing, but pushing for a top ranking with the help of black hat SEO and destroying the user experience for the Google search engine is quite another. These methods are sometimes even illegal and include links placed via spam that strive for a high ranking on commercially valuable keywords without offering any relevant content for the search query. It also affects any links that appear to influence rankings systematically. A couple of months ago, the subject of guest blogging received a lot attention – a different approach to developing a link network. One thing is certain: Google keeps an eye on all link-building variations. If a trend establishes itself, an algorithm update strikes.

Matt Cutts comments on guest blogging

In contrast to Panda 4.0, no great number of websites is affected by PayDay Loan 2.0. According to Matt Cutts, the update affected about 0.3% of US search queries in 2013. Meanwhile, 4% of search queries in Turkey were affected. This extraordinarily high value shows that spam was a lot more common there.

Back then, Matt Cutts had announced the forthcoming changes in this video.

Panda 4.0 & PayDay Loan 2.0 – The algorithm double whammy

Current measurements of the effects of the Google algorithm updates still need to be handled with caution. After all, nobody knows if they are in full effect yet. Sometimes, it can take several weeks until the effect of an algorithm adjustment fully unfolds in all countries and websites.  Given that two parallel mega-updates have caused a ranking storm with major ups and downs, it’s difficult to draw conclusions at this point.

To summarise, Panda 4.0 and PayDay Loan 2.0 target the following negative website characteristics:

• There is little content.

• The content quality is poor, e.g. it is copied elsewhere on the internet or is so-called spun content – a mechanically or manually reorganised version of an original text.

• The content indicates the systematic development of a link network. This can include a large number of guest contributions in a blog that include links to third party websites.

No need to fear Panda 4.0 and PayDay Loan 2.0 with content marketing

As was the case with the Google algorithm update Hummingbird, the two latest updates are driving content marketing. The essence of content marketing is to offer the user added value by providing him with fresh, quality content. This automatically creates links. People like to share good content. This is why good content marketing always adopts a sustainable content strategy. Yet many brands and marketers are too impatient and try to take short-cuts. This opens up a market for SEO optimisers who focus on the technical aspect of the content: Text stuffed with keywords will do – after all, nothing can possibly go wrong with the magic formula WDF * IDF. Now that’s a subject for another day and I will shed some light on it next week.

Updated 27th of May 2014: Read my article: The ultimate SEO texts with WDF * IDF. WTF!

Author: Ben Harmanus