Google has recently declared the release of the latest version of its Panda Update. ‘Panda’ itself is a filter designed to penalize poor content from ranking well.
In a post on Google+, the organization stated that a “slow roll out” had begun earlier this week, and will continue into the next before its completion. Depending on location, Google added, about 3-5% of search queries will be affected.
So what’s different about this latest release? Google indicated that it’s meant to be more precise, allowing small- and medium-sized sites to rank better, if they have high-quality content. Part of their post reads:
“Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.”
Is this a new chance – or another penalty?
This roll out means that, since the last update, anyone who was penalized has a chance to reappear on the rankings – if they made appropriate changes. What if you were hit by Panda and have already changed your site’s content? If you see an increase in traffic by the end of next week, then you’ll know the changes were good enough.
This also means that new sites that weren’t on Panda’s hit list might be affected. If you’ve seen a sudden drop in traffic from Google this week or in upcoming days, this latest update is likely to blame.
Google itself called the last update Panda 4.0, deeming it a major update as well. This isn’t really a big change, hence the choice of Panda 4.1.
Determining if something is a ‘major’ or ‘minor’ update is imprecise, however, and can lead to ridiculous numbering, like Panda 3.92 Update. Instead, it may be better to number the updates in the order they happened.
But since Google chose to call the last one 4.0, we decided to play along – and will continue with the old-fashioned system, at least until it becomes absurd again.
One thing to note is that this latest update came 4 months after the last, which may suggest a new quarterly cycle. Panda saw practically no updates for most of 2013 and, before that, had been updated on around monthly in 2012.