The Google Panda update is a game changer in terms of search and website ranking. The last time Google updated their search algorithm this much was back in 2007 when the Google Florida update discounted links and Page Rank and re-arranged the search results for thousands of websites. This time it's no different.
Google's update is a clear attempt to improve the organic search results by degrading the existing spam sites which pollute them. In order to do this it has upgraded its algorithm to look for specific 'signature' elements which now mark a site which has spam content.
By understanding what the characteristics of a spam site are from the perspective of the Google search engine you can reverse-engineer it and begin to understand what you need to do in order to stop your website from being adversely affected by the Panda Update.
What Google Considers now to be Spam Websites
1. Websites with content that is not sufficiently original - it does not matter if your content is product description (which is repeated many times across the web) or you are reporting something which has happened and can therefore not take much liberty with it. Google now wants to see authority which means that originality is key.
2. Websites which are keyword stuffed and which are a little out of date in their content also flag up Google's new filter for spam websites.
3. Scraped content or content which has been brought in from other websites is of particular risk as Google now values originality above the bulk of content in question. This penalises, of course eCommerce sites with product descriptions which repeat specifications posted on hundreds of other websites and it penalises anyone who has been working on a small budget to get in as much content as possible by buying it from Content Farm websites.
4. Websites which have poor navigability and high abandonment rate, all evidenced through Google's anonymous gathering of Click Through Rates (CTRs) will also feel the might of the Panda hammer.
If your website does any of these you are tripping up Google's flags and will probably see declining traffic. If you have a combination of one or more of these issues showing up on your website you really need to start thinking what to do about it and simply start doing it.
The ultimate message of the Google Panda update is that unless you are prepared to take fast, actionable steps to make your website appear live and of value to the web, Google is going to pretend it's invisible in which case it may as well be.