The news was broken today by Matt Cutts of Google to say that Panda 4.0 is to be rolled out from today (21 May), but it seems that the changes have already started to take place with ranking drops being reported as of 19 May. Matt Cutts has since tweeted that the rollout did indeed begin on 19 May and that the target is ‘very spammy queries’.
Panda was originally designed to encourage good content quality on websites and to reduce low –quality content to the bottom of the Google rankings. In the past it has looked at eliminating scraper sites and general low quality content from the Google results to enable those searching to have only high quality results.
Panda 4.0 has already started to take effect and there are major reported changes in search results. Google have tied this major algorithm change in with a further one aimed at spam payday loan queries, so at the moment it’s not completely clear exactly what damage has taken place. The combination of both updates is bad news to many webmasters who may be hit by one – or both of the algorithm changes.
It has taken a couple of days for the news to be confirmed about what has actually happened as Google have been denying over the weekend that anything has taken place even though news of large page ranking changes started to emerge on 19 May. Most of the speculation seemed to point in the direction of it being only a data refresh for sites with the spammiest of link profiles but it’s now confirmed as much more widespread than that.
With the air cleared now as to what has actually taken place, it will be a case of waiting to see what else Google rolls out over the coming days. In the past, algorithm changes have taken place over a staged framework of time and although pushing both the payday loan update and the Panda 4.0 launch is an unexpected move by Google, it could mean there is more to come.
The combination of updates makes it more difficult for webmasters with a ranking fluctuation to deal with to do a full analysis of the changes and to trace the source as to which one has caused the damage – or if they have been hit by both.
The first Panda update took place in February 2011 and was in response to calls for improved search engine results because of how well content farms were continuing to rank with Google even though the quality content was so poor. Since then there have been a combination of large and small updates with each roll out taking around 10 days to complete. Google announced a few months ago that any further Panda updates would always be less noticeable, but with the flurry of activity over the weekend, it seems this is not the case as the impact has been seen and felt over a wider scale than past minor Panda updates.
With the strong possibility of a large Penguin update taking place at some time in the near future – it’s almost a year since the last one – webmasters will be keeping a nervous eye on their position and looking to minimise any future issues as well as deal with the fallout of the last day or so.
If you’ve noticed that your website has slipped down the rankings over the last 48 hours or so, there’s every likelihood that you’ve been hit by one or both updates. There could be more to come, but it’s important to take action now to start to look to analyse what could have caused the issue for you. Google are perhaps pointing to Panda 4.0 being language related but nothing has yet been confirmed.
If you’ve not checked your ranking and your traffic has dropped, then you’ve also probably been affected and you need to see where you are on Google.
After you’ve taken stock of the situation, you need to put a plan together to resolve the damage as quickly as possible. This should include a website SEO audit and you should contact us to carry out a detailed link analysis.
Whilst major algorithm updates are good news for those wanting to see high quality results when they are looking for information, they are bad news for webmasters who could well be genuinely confused by what has taken place – particularly if their site only contains high quality content. Proactive action is key so talk to High Impact today about how Panda 4.0 has affected you and we can work together to resolve the problem and look to push you back up the Google rankings as soon as possible.
Author: Julian Saunders is the founder of High Impact.
You can find on him on Google + here.