In conversation with Search Engine Land, Google has confirmed that it rolled out a Panda refresh over the weekend. As usual, the update is expected to take months to complete and will take some time to fully affect sites.
Google said that the changes will impact around two to three per cent of English language queries.
Webmasters and SEOers should have been prepared for the refresh for some time however, as Gary Illeys announced at SMX Advanced in June that the refresh should be rolling out in “two to four weeks.”
Even with two to four weeks’ notice however, was there enough time to do anything about it?
Unfortunately for most sites, it was probably already too late, for if a site was hit by the last Panda update, and its content was refreshed during that four week period, Google may have already ran the necessary data before pushing the release.
In mid-July Barry Schwartz wrote that:
There are many stages of a Panda update and if it is coming soon, I suspect the data aspect has already been refreshed and the Panda score your site has, probably is set in stone for the upcoming Panda 4.2 or Panda 5 (whatever we name it).
What happened during the last refresh?
It’s been roughly ten months since the last refresh and that was the 28th update, wherein Google modified the algorithm, despite claiming that it wasn’t going to announce any more iterations.
Speaking on Google+, Pierre Far said:
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.
Of course, the usual sites were targeted; those with thin content, those with duplicated content and the usual batch of spun pages – affecting between three and five per cent of search queries.
Some of the domain ‘losers’ of 4.1 (in the U.S.) included yellow.com, office365.com, brothersoft.com and ok.co.uk. The likes of babble.com, geekwire.com and netdoctor.co.uk were heralded as some of the bigger ‘winners’ of the update.
It will be interesting to see who the winners and losers are this time, but as Google states, the roll out will take months to complete, so we won’t find out for some time yet.