Search Owls Blog

What is “Google Panda”?

illustration of panda

What is Google Panda?

As an SEO company in Costa Mesa, we hear a lot of questions from our clients regarding the SEO industy. One of the most frequent questions we get is about the term “Google Panda”.

The answer isn’t as complicated as you might think. When Google releases an update to their search ranking algorithm, they usually assign that update with the name of an animal.

Google Panda is a change to Google’s algorithm for search rankings that was first released in February of 2011. Since its inception, Panda has had a huge influence on how Google users view their daily search results, but most people don’t know exactly how or even what the algorithm is.

What exactly is an algorithm?

Algorithms are computer programs that look for clues to give you back the best answers to your online query. Instead of bringing back all of the thousands, if not millions, of webpages that may have helpful information, Google’s algorithms simplify the results and rank them in order of relevance to your search terms. These computer programs rely on more than 200 unique signals to find exactly what you are looking for.

How did Panda change the algorithm?

A typical change to an algorithm starts out as an idea about how to improve the search process. The changes that came with Google Panda focused specifically on website content, aka the text, images, videos, etc. that appear on a webpage. Google Panda continues to reward sites with high quality content by demoting “thin pages”, or those with spam-filled, duplicate, or low quality content.

Google Panda was implemented news websites and social networking sites enjoyed a huge spike in their rankings, while sites containing large amounts of advertising saw a significant drop. Google’s spokespeople explained that the value of a webpage to the visitor should be higher than the value to the site owner, and reiterated that a key aspect of Panda is that ads and affiliate links support a page’s content, not overwhelm it.

The Google Panda algorithm creates a ratio with a site’s reference queries and inbound links. That ratio is used to create a site wide and page specific modification factor based upon a search query. If a webpage fails to meet a certain threshold, the modification factor is applied and the page is ranked lower on the search engine results page for those search terms.

Google Panda also affects the ranking of an entire site or a specific section, rather than just the individual pages on a site. It only takes a few pages of poor quality content to negatively affect an otherwise solid site, so Google recommends that such pages be removed, rewritten, or blocked from being indexed by the search engine.

Google continues to roll out updates to the Panda algorithm, although they are never clear on exactly when these changes occur or what the updates will be. When updates do happen, Panda may catch sites that escaped scrutiny before and reward sites that have since made effective changes. Either way, Panda is now here to stay as an official part of Google’s core ranking algorithm.

If you have further questions about search rankings, call Search Owls at (714) 754-1564 or email us at


Beware of Robocalls

What are robocalls, and why should I care?

A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message, usually to sell or market services of some kind. Robocalls are usually associated with charities, telemarketing or political phone campaigns, but can also be used for emergency or public service announcements. These informational calls can be helpful to both companies and consumers, but unfortunately many other robocalls are both useless and illegal in the United States.

As the FTC explains, “if the recording is a sales message and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal.”

In recent years, the government has seen a significant increase in the number of illegal robocall complaints because our beloved modern technology has made it cheap and simple for scammers to make thousands of calls every day, from anywhere in the world. These companies and individuals usually display fake caller ID information that not only hides their identity from those receiving the call, but from law enforcement as well. This is known as caller ID spoofing — and internet powered phone systems make it very easy to do. In some cases, the fraudulent telemarketer disguises themselves in a way that fools you into thinking the call is from some entity you’ve done business with before. The telephone number may also simply show up as “unknown” or “123456789”.

How Google is fighting back

Since the beginning of 2015, Google administrators have received hundreds of complaints about robocalls they’ve received from businesses claiming to be associated with Google.

As a leading SEO company in Costa Mesa, we have heard complaints from multiple clients who have panicked after receiving these misleading calls. The recording will say something to the effect of “There is something wrong with your Google Map listing. Urgent action is required – press 1 to speak with a representative immediately“. Small business owners have been targeted by robocallers for many years with misleading promotional offers for improving search engine optimization, and more specifically to improve their Google My Business profile.

If you receive a call from a company who is representing themselves as Google, you can report the incident directly to Google here.

Unfortunately, robocallers impersonate various other companies as well, and have even impersonated local police, the IRS, and the FTC itself. The FTC gets approximately 150,000 complaints about illegal calls each month, and to date has brought more than 100 lawsuits against more than 600 companies and individuals responsible for billions of illegal robocalls and other Do Not Call violations.

What can I do to prevent robocalls?

  • Report callers to the FTC or the FCC. If the calls continue, file a formal complaint.
  • Hang up the phone. Do not press any key that the voice recording may prompt you to. Pressing 1 to talk when prompted will add your number to a “hot list”, transferring you to a telemarketer or internet marketing company waiting to give you a pitch. Even if you hang up before the call is completed, you are more likely to receive more future calls just because of your initial response.
  • Contact your phone company to see if they can block calls from any numbers. Make sure to ask if your provider charges for that service. Telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it may not be worth paying an additional fee to block one specific number that will most likely change if the scammers call back again.
  • Register your personal number with the National Do Not Call Registry by calling 1-888-382-1222.

SearchOwls is a well-respected SEO Company in Costa Mesa, and we never have and never will make unsolicited calls to our clients and customers!

What is AMP and why is it important for SEO?

If you are in the web development and online marketing scene, you may have already caught a glimpse of the AMP acronym and wondered exactly what it means and why it is suddenly relevant to you.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are stripped down web pages specifically designed for blazing fast speeds on mobile devices. With the initiation of the open-source AMP Project, the days of waiting for those slothful ten second pages are coming to a close.

One of the best examples of AMP implementation is the Facebook newsfeed that loads content instantly as the user scrolls. Relative to regular web pages AMP loading speeds are worlds apart, even on a poor data connection.

As a Google initiative, AMP’s are going to be crucial to search engine optimization. How crucial, you ask? Beginning this week, AMP optimized news stories will appear on mobile Google search results in the first and foremost position. Combine that with the fact that there are over 1 billion smartphone users in the world, all hungry for fast loading content. The world has gone mobile, and Google rewards those who optimize for it.

However, there is a small catch to all the SEO benefits of AMP. If readers share a link to your AMP page found on Google search, it will point to Google’s cache servers instead of your site. That being said, your visitor numbers will not suffer loss unless you rely primarily on social shares to obtain traffic. Additionally, the upside to the Google cache link is the addition of more backlinks to your site, thus affording more opportunities for your site to show up on a search engine results page (SERP).

AMP’s true benefit to SEO is the visibility bump in mobile search, which now outranks desktop searches in the United States and 9 other countries. Updating a site with quality content gets your site warmed up to Google. AMP gets your site the extra benefits.

In conclusion, AMP pages are becoming increasingly critical components of SEO as mobile search queries continue to dominate across the globe. Now is the time to implement AMP on your company publications, and catch the wave to Google’s next algorithm update.

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is a day where consumers are encouraged to support the small businesses in their community the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In an effort to keep up with “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” which are dominated by large retailers, American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010. But don’t take our word for it. The fine folks at American Express were able to get a high priced spokeswoman to help them spread the word:

As an internet marketing agency in Orange County and a member of the North Orange County Chamber of Commerce, we are passionate about supporting local businesses and we hope that you’ll join us by choosing a Mom-And-Pop-Shop to give your support to. Don’t forget to share your purchases with others by using the hashtag #ShopSmall.

If you’re having trouble finding a local business in your area, please search here in the NOCC business directory to find an independently owned business near you.

How to Setup the Gmail “Undo Send” Feature

Have you ever sent out an email and then immediately regretted it? On more than one occasion I’ve noticed a typo just milliseconds after hitting the send button. Even worse, I have accidentally hit “Reply to All” when I only intended to reply to one person. For those of you who share my chagrin, Gmail has just introduced a new feature that will allow you to “Undo” a sent email for up to 30 seconds after it has been sent. Follow these quick steps to setup the Gmail Undo Send feature in your inbox.

1. In the upper right hand corner of your screen, click on the icon shaped like a gear.

2. A drop down menu will appear. Click on “Settings”.

3. Scroll down the settings page and check the box labeled “Enable Undo Send”. 

4. Set your cancellation period. This is the amount of seconds Gmail will hold your email before they send it.

5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Save Changes”.  (Click Image to Enlarge)

6. From now on when you send an E-mail, there will be a yellow notification at the top of your inbox with an option to “Undo”.



New nest for the owls!

Search Owls is proud to announce their new and improved office location in Costa Mesa. Check us out at the Nest 2.0.

Search Owls

3100 Airway Avenue, Suite 131

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

(714) 754-1564