It is aimed to lower the rank of low quality content sites in search results and return high-quality sites to its users. Basically, Panda's mission is to give better search results.
On Memory Lane: SEO Trends over the Years
Mid-1990s: Manual Submission / Meta Keywords Tag / Keyword Stuffing
Keywords rule the ancient SEO world. Websites looked basic and contents didn't really inspire interest (no image, basic writing, bland font style/color choices). Spammers back then had regular jobs (Milkman, Sewerage Inspector, etc), and so, spamming was minimal.
2004: Anchor Texts / Paid Links / Interlinking Websites
The basic SEO concept taught back then in order to land a spot on Google's top 10 was to have as many sites pointing back to your homepage as possible. This tactic is done through article, forum, and social bookmark link posting. Spammers call this the “Golden era of link opportunities.”
2010: Social Media Marketing
When Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey introduced FaceBook and Twitter respectively, the world has entered a revolution. Suddenly, distance mattered not because of the power brought by these social networks to connect people, family, and friends across the globe. Sadly, with the rise and impact of these social sites dominating the web, spammers have unsurprisingly jumped into the wagon and forced their sites into Google's search results; tweeting and posting links here and there like it's Christmas Sale.
2011: Year of the Panda
With the introduction of Panda, the era of spamming and low quality sites will be over as Google will focus solely on quality content and user experience. This means all the mentioned trends will be a memory of the past, a lesson learned to the world's most used search engine.
For people thinking social media marketing is here to stay, as some of it (particularly FaceBook) is deemed to overtake Google in terms of popularity, better think again. There will come a day when Google will concentrate on providing content, which is basically the main reason it exists, than getting 'share signals' from these social sites.
For those who are using the SEO Ranking Factors Periodic Table as their guide to landing a position in Google's top 10, one question is constantly asked: Will Panda change how the periodic table works? The answer is YES and NO. As you can see in the periodic table (fortunately, it looked less intimidating than its chemical counterpart), the ranking factors are divided into two groups: On the page SEO and Off the Page SEO.
On Page SEO basically talks about everything about your site and how you make it accessible (and favorable) to Crawlers.
Factors, such as Quality(Cq) and Research(Cr), all have the strongest factors (+3), while Words(Cw), Engage(Ce), and Fresh (Cf) all share a factor of +2. As most SEOs would say, Content is King, and it is still. What's interesting about this is you can absolutely control how your content will fare in Google's inclusion.Make the pages beautiful, well written, and polished until they shine with Quality (Cq +3). But this won't happen if no visitors could see them. This is where your keyword research comes in.
What do people typically type when they look for things on the net? You will need to do an excellent Research(+2) because the choice of Words(+2) you will use on your keywords could impact your site's search engine visibility.
When you've successfully brought in the visitors, to Engage(+2) them to read and stay on your page would be determined by how impressive and useful your page has been presented. Also, pouring in Fresh(+2) contents has two powerful impacts to your website; first, to continually appease Google with 'of-the-moment' articles; second, to build an 'authority status' to frequent visitors, making them come for more and share it with others.
A page or a site, no matter how brilliant or well-written, will not see the light of SEO day if nobody knew it exists. Your page's Title (Ht), Description (Hd), and Headers (Hh) should work together to accomplish one thing: attract the attention of Crawlers and Robots. Say, you have opened a bakery. Basically, you'd want the public to know you exist. The best way to do this is through advertisement: banners, airwaves, tv, etc.
Your site's HTMLs act as the adverts in SEO; first, HTMLs introduce what the page is about (Titles +3), then show Google if the nature of the site matches the page (Description +1), and finally, give Google a taster to convince it your page is consistent to its niche (Headers +1).
If you have a new site you want to introduce to Google, you mustn’t give it a hard time 'reading' your pages. There are a lot of sites sharing your niche, and if it can't read some of your pages'HTMLs, it would skip it and proceed on the next one. Ouch. To prevent this, tidy your sites' metatags and codes so that when Google makes a Crawl (Ac +3) in them, it would encounter no errors.
Google takes a site's loading Speed (Ac +1) very seriously. As flashy and pretty flash is to the eyes, avoid using it on your site for three reasons:
1. Robots/Crawlers are dyslexic when it comes to flash; they find it hard to read it
2. Flash sites take time to load
3. People despise slow-loading sites; they condemn them
Finally, you would want your sites' URLs (Au +1) short and sweet. If you have a domain like www.takeyourorangedailyordie.com and you have a page about the health benefits of oranges, as tempting as it is to just put it this way (/the-health-benefits-of-oranges.html), DON'T. Try something like (/orange-health-benefits.html). You just omitted 2 words without altering the meaning of the page and it's cleaner and easy to read (for the Robots to say).
You might say, “Well, Google won't be too strict with it since it only got a (+1) factor, right?”
Yes, one might argue, but you'd rather be consistent with all the rules than to let your guard down. Consider: There would be sites talking about oranges, too. Like yours, the competition's site is indexed, have great content, and excellent design. The pages fit perfectly. But their URLs have been trimmed down in an obvious acknowledgment to Google's rules. Whose site would Google prioritize first?
My attention span is 5 gold fishes away, so I decided to cut this post into two. Man, I do really hate long posts. And I know you too.
Check out The Off Site elements here.