Google issues Panda update, cracks down on low-quality exact match domains

Google is a search engine behemoth and one of the most far-reaching and powerful digital companies. So when it makes an update to the way its search engines operate, local SEO specialists will have to take note. Every little tweak can prove to be the difference in how a business ranks on the most widely used search engine in the world.

Recently, Google has issued an update to Panda, its algorithm filter that focuses on fighting low-quality content. The update has the potential to impact more searches than any update since March 2012. Google also maintains another animal-related search engine function, Penguin, which deals with reducing web spam.

The most credible SEO blogs have called it "Panda 20" because the update is the twentieth update Google has made to Panda since its release in February 2011. It's also distinctive because this update isn't a basic data refresh like most updates have been, but an update to the actual Panda algorithm itself. Meaning new and old sites have the potential to be affected to a degree that a regular user might notice. Matt Cutts, head of Google's spam-fighting team, said the update could affect 2.4 percent of English queries - a rather impactful update considering the last five updates affected 1 percent or less each.

The Panda overhaul was the second algorithm update Google has recently announced. The other, which was not related to Panda or Penguin, was a minor update that was tasked with taking out bad exact match results for domain searches.

"Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality 'exact-match' domains in search results," Cutts posted on Twitter. He also followed up by saying the EMD update would affect 0.6 percent of queries to a noticeable degree.

The update deals with sites that rank well due being an exact domain match despite low-quality content. An exact match domain is when a site profits from having a domain name that exactly matches its primary keyword, even though they shouldn't be ranked as high if their content is low-quality. If someone searches "yellow pants" and the domain is the first-ranking result, that's an exact match domain.

But don't panic just yet, the update isn't aimed at punishing exact match domains, but those that have low-quality content. So for local search marketing experts looking to solidify or boost their rankings, the need for quality content has never been greater.