This week, it was confirmed that Google had made a minor adjustment to its Panda algorithm update, which has drastically altered the search engine's results several times since its first iteration in February.
Have you seen any rankings changes with this latest incarnation of the Panda update? Let us know in the comments.
As Google makes hundreds of algorithmic changes each year, Google downplayed this as any major shift. The official statement, as obtained by Barry Schwartz, was:
“We’re continuing to iterate on our Panda algorithm as part of our commitment to returning high-quality sites to Google users. This most recent update is one of the roughly 500 changes we make to our ranking algorithms each year."
It appears that it may be more major than we originally thought. We had seen a few comments from webmasters indicating that their rankings had somewhat improved, but now Dani Horowitz, whose DaniWeb discussion forum was an apparently innocent casualty of the Panda updates's wrath tells WebProNews that the site has made a full "110% recovery" as a result of this most recent Panda tweak.
When we interviewed Horowitz back in May, she told us about some various tactics she was engaging in, which seemed to be having positive effects on her site's search referrals.
While what she was seeing was far from a full recovery, it was enough to give webmasters hope that they may be able to climb their way back up into Google's good graces, despite having been victimized by the update. In other words, there were enough other ranking factors that sites could use to improve their rankings to avoid being totally deprived of search referrals at the hands of Panda - good news for those sites with quality content that were casualties of Google's war on poor content.
At the time, DaniWeb had a long way to go, however, to reach the levels of traffic it was seeing from Google before. Even more interesting perhaps, was the fact that Google seemed to be ranking DaniWeb well for things that didn't make sense, while things that that it ranked well for previously that did make sense, were sending traffic elsewhere.
"Panda 2.3 went live on July 23rd and traffic just instantly jumped back up to normal that very day," Horowitz now tells us. "We're now seeing traffic at the same pre-Panda highs in some countries, while other countries are even better than ever. Overall, we're seeing more pageviews than ever before."
Here's a look at global visitors and US visitors respectively since the beginning of the year (that's visitors, not pageviews):
"Notice that US visitors were affected on February 24th while global traffic wasn't severely impacted until a month and a half later," Horowitz points out. "The decline coincided exactly with the first iteration of Panda and the recovery coincided exactly with the latest iteration of Panda."
"All of the changes I've made were documented in the official Google Support thread or in the video interview I did with you guys," she tells us. "In fact, I hadn't made any recent changes immediately before the recovery. I haven't yet had a chance to investigate any specific long tail keywords yet either. Google Webmaster Tools looks very different from what it looked like back in March as a result of all the work I've done, but nothing that stands out between this month and last."
She did add in the Google Support thread, "There were no big changes made immediately before the site came back, with the exception of a significant increase in my Google AdWords budget." She followed this up shortly after with, "I mentioned AdWords because we use it heavily to increase registrations, which directly results in an increase in posts per day. If there was a correlation, then it was a sudden increase in new content followed the penalty reversal."
Here's our previous interview with Dani, so you can gain more insight into the kinds of things she was doing in the first place:
We'll keep our eyes peeled for more reports of full recoveries. I have to wonder how many wrongfully impacted sites have seen their rankings jump back up. Either way, provided that DaniWeb's recovery was indeed a direct result from this latest Panda tweak, other victims might find hope in that Google does continue to "iterate" on the Panda algorithm.
Have you noticed a significant change in rankings since the latest iteration of the Panda update? Any more ill recoveries? Let us know.