Google Launches Two Algorithm Updates Including New Panda

By: Chris Crum - May 21, 2014

Google makes changes to its algorithm every day (sometimes multiple changes in one day).

When the company actually announces them, you know they’re bigger than the average update, and when one of them is named Panda, it’s going to get a lot of attention.

Have you been affected either positively or negatively by new Google updates? Let us know in the comments.

Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts tweeted about the updates on Tuesday night:



Panda has been refreshed on a regular basis for quite some time now, and Google has indicated in the past that it no longer requires announcements because of that. At one point, it was actually softened. But now, we have a clear announcement about it, and a new version number (4.0), so it must be significant. For one, this indicates that the algorithm was actually updated as opposed to just refreshed, opening up the possibility for some big shuffling of rankings.

The company told Search Engine Land that the new Panda affects different languages to different degrees, and impacts roughly 7.5% of queries in English to the degree regular users might notice.

The other update is the what is a new version of what is sometimes referred to as the “payday loans” update. The first one was launched just a little more than a year ago. Cutts discussed it in this video before launching it:

“We get a lot of great feedback from outside of Google, so, for example, there were some people complaining about searches like ‘payday loans’ on Google.co.uk,” he said. “So we have two different changes that try to tackle those kinds of queries in a couple different ways. We can’t get into too much detail about exactly how they work, but I’m kind of excited that we’re going from having just general queries be a little more clean to going to some of these areas that have traditionally been a little more spammy, including for example, some more pornographic queries, and some of these changes might have a little bit more of an impact on those kinds of areas that are a little more contested by various spammers and that sort of thing.”

He also discussed it at SMX Advanced last year. As Barry Schwartz reported at the time:

Matt Cutts explained this goes after unique link schemes, many of which are illegal. He also added this is a world-wide update and is not just being rolled out in the U.S. but being rolled out globally.

This update impacted roughly 0.3% of the U.S. queries but Matt said it went as high as 4% for Turkish queries were web spam is typically higher.

That was then. This time, according to Schwartz, who has spoken with Cutts, it impacts English queries by about 0.2% to a noticeable degree.

Sites are definitely feeling the impact of Google’s new updates.

Here are a few comments from the WebmasterWorld forum from various webmasters:

We’ve seen a nice jump in Google referrals and traffic over the past couple of days, with the biggest increase on Monday (the announced date of the Panda 4.0 rollout). Our Google referrals on Monday were up by 130 percent….

I am pulling out my hair. I’ve worked hard the past few months to overcome the Panda from March and was hoping to come out of it with the changes I made. Absolutely no change at all in the SERPS. I guess I’ll have to start looking for work once again.

While I don’t know how updates are rolled out, my site that has had panda problems since April 2011first showed evidence of a traffic increase at 5 p.m. (central, US) on Monday (5/19/2014).

This is the first time I have seen a couple sites I deal with actually get a nice jump in rankings after a Panda…

It appears that eBay has taken a hit. Dr. Peter J. Meyers at Moz found that eBay lost rankings on a variety of keywords, and that the main eBay subodmain fell out of Moz’s “Big 10,” which is its metric of the ten domains with the most real estate in the top 10.

“Over the course of about three days, eBay fell from #6 in our Big 10 to #25,” he writes. “Change is the norm for Google’s SERPs, but this particular change is clearly out of place, historically speaking. eBay has been #6 in our Big 10 since March 1st, and prior to that primarily competed with Twitter.com for either the #6 or #7 place. The drop to #25 is very large. Overall, eBay has gone from right at 1% of the URLs in our data set down to 0.28%, dropping more than two-thirds of the ranking real-estate they previously held.”

He goes on to highlight specific key phrases where eBay lost rankings. It lost two top ten rankings for three separate phrases: “fiber optic christmas tree,” “tongue rings,” and “vermont castings”. Each of these, according to Meyers, was a category page on eBay.

eBay also fell out of the top ten, according to this report, for queries like “beats by dr dre,” “honeywell thermostat,” “hooked on phonics,” “batman costume,” “lenovo tablet,” “george foreman grill,” and many others.

It’s worth noting that eBay tended to be on the lower end of the top ten rankings for these queries. They’re not dropping out of the number one spot, apparently.

Either way, this is isn’t exactly good news for eBay sellers. Of course, it’s unlikely that Google was specifically targeting eBay with either update, and they could certainly bounce back.

Have you noticed any specific types of sites (or specific sites) that have taken a noticeable hit? Do Google’s results look better in general? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Thinkstock

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • http://amitkroy.worpress.com Amit Roy

    It seems like Google is really on to missions spam since past one year and this update was already expected one. SEO arena is not going to be any short-cut which Matt Cutts already explained in previous months and these are just a way to achieve that end result. Creating more and more query solving entry pages on your site is the only way to be in Google search ranking eyes.

  • Cossio Insurance

    I haven’t seen any hit’s yet with this update. Most of my keywords seem to be about the same or ranking higher.

  • Anon

    I’m seeing an increase across my own sites, and those I write for. It’s minor, but it’s an improvement nonetheless.

    I still think Google is an evil corporation attacking small business in favor of their own profits and those of the largest corporations, destroying the web and risking the livelihoods of millions of people.

    Google will have to go a lot further than this to regain my trust or support.

  • https://restore.solutions/ Numus Software

    I Don’t care anymore , we have 48,000 Facebook likes, users love us.. we have very good engagement.. I don’t believe anything google anouces anymore.. some of the worst built worst sites i have ever seen out rank us. conversely Walmart outranks us by saying.. they actually don’t supply the items we do,.. they say this in the small print in one line on the bottom of their product pages.. Way to go for user experience.. send them to Walmart where they say they dont sell them. Customer experience my ***

  • Keith Johnson

    As a New Zealand blogger, I have seen some significant increases in traffic on my magazine site: http://www.kjohnsonnz.blogspot.com. This consists entirely of original content covering over 1,000 articles to date, many involving extensive research and creative writing. Hopefully the new algorithm will give non-US web participants who are committed to serious citizen journalism a better opportunity to compete online.

    • Sujata

      Same here, as my site http://www.SchoolsWeLike.com has seen downwards trend for last 4 weeks (all of sudden) and now i know that has been the reason. I see steep rise back starting this week and back on track. This article helps and I can probably take a look at my site on how to improve it further….and thats never ending process.

  • http://get-business-online.com/ Gal Baras

    Naturally, Google wants to weed out search results and search engines from its SERP and be the only way to aggregate content on the web. Now, it does it that much better.

    This should work quite well for those of us who practice sustainable SEO – create good sites and let Google serve it up to the right people.

  • FrankLuska

    Before Panda 2 / 3, i and many other niche websites ranked very well in our fields, after Panda 2, Amazon, Walmart, and other big retailers took over the front page. Of those normally there before Panda, were now page 3 or no where to be found.

    It seems Google went way hard on Small Business, and now favors Large Business.

    As far as search results, i did several software queries today, I am still trying to figure out what motor homes have to do with software. Google has lost it’s mind.

  • Brandon Kirk

    I give up. We got hit with Panda in April. We have made tons of change and cleaned up spammy links and disavowed others. We almost went bankrupt and had to lay off half of our staff. We have shifted most of our marketing offline. Before Panda we were in the top seven, But nothing we do makes a difference.

  • Mark Lamendola

    My sites aren’t affected by any of these updates, because Google continues to keep grossly outdated data in our profiles. So we

    are, like many high-quality sites, showing up just fine on actual search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and Duck Duck Go but invisible

    on the spam ad server known as “Google organic search.”

    I have notified Google of every one of these errors over 200 times each, and it seems they don’t address an error until they get at

    least 1,600 notifications about that particular one. Those are real numbers.

    Google spawned a vast industry of posting spam, linking to other sites, and then charging them to remove the link. Matt Cutts said

    Google would go after such sites. The reality is Google does little or nothing. One site in particular has a huge orange PayPal

    payment button that says Link Removal right on it. I have reported that site over 1,200 times (actual number). It’s still there. I

    would not be surprised if this site and other link extortion sites operate right out of the Googleplex.

    Google’s behavior since this farce began makes it seem as if Google hires only people who take an ethics exam and fail to pass

    it. What else could explain this degree of destructive psychopathy?

    Those of us who rank well on actual search engines would like fair treatment from Google, also. Or at least some honesty.

    Keeping “links” in a site’s profile two years after said links have been removed is hardly reasonable or honest. It does skew the

    results in favor of Google’s big advertisers, who apparently get a free pass on Panda and Penguin.

    Take Google’s biggest advertiser, for example (Amazon). Now, I totally love Amazon. It’s a great site and a great company. But

    what do you suppose its link profile looks like, after 15+ years of building the world’s largest affiliate network? Yes, it would have

    been wrong to penalize Amazon for this. But it was also wrong to penalize anyone else. So Google definitely has a different

    standard for its large advertisers.

    Google says to look to their forums for help. But the forum moderators misquote, misconstrue, and mischaracterize in a deliberate

    effort to try to humiliate anyone pointing out Google problems (such as the outdated data) and asking for answers.

    Google could do like J.D. Powers and open a division that helps people identify what they are “doing wrong” but in most cases I

    suspect the victim sites rank low because of what Google is doing wrong (e.g., grossly outdated profile data).

    So I think there are two real solutions for Google to choose from, if the company changes its mind and decides to go back to its

    “do no evil” slogan that it abandoned in 2011.

    The first option is for Google to have some integrity and stop lying to the public that its spam ad serving system is somehow a

    “search engine.” Anyone who compares Google to a real search engine sees a striking contrast in quality (and it’s clearly not in

    Google’s favor).

    The second option is for Google to have some integrity and stop lying with its data. That would mean a sea change in operations,

    making site profiles maybe only 20 days out of date rather than 20 months out of date. Basing the ranking and filtering on incorrect

    data obviously means Google returns incorrect results. So basing these on correct data may catapult Google up into the quality

    levels that Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, and others already enjoy. However, that outcome would mean its big advertisers would

    no longer dominate Google’s “natural” (what a joke) results.

    In the meantime, we have options also. Like making our businesses Google-proof or at least non-Google centric. And with Google

    currently so very corrupt, it does not seem right to send them Adwords dollars.

    We also have the option of citing specific failures and offenses that Google knows about but does not address, on any forum

    that’s open to us. Excercising that option can help obliterate Google’s undeserved share of mind. Note that in many other

    countries, notably several in Europe and Asia, Google has real problems competing. And that’s because it does such a very bad

    job with organic and they can’t hide behind share of mind.

    We can also talk up Google’s organic search competitors, many of which do a far better job than Google does.

    Or we can just wait for the higher-ups at Google to, all on their own, get a conscience and clean up the mess created with the

    Panda/Penguin scam. Maybe about that time, pigs will fly.

  • John Bottomley

    At this point webmasters need to shrug off some illusions, specifically that Google organic search is actually organic search. It is little more than search spam, with legitimate businesses sublimated in favor of the gas giants that pump millions into their adwords programs. I have s sundress store, and it is EXCELLENT. It sells long sundresses, short sundresses, ethnic, hawaiian, indian and other sundresses. Haltertop and tube sundresses. The store is about nothing but sundresses. What is found in Google organic for ‘sundresses’? Large corporations that happen have half-assedly offer dresses that they label ‘sundress’ and *poof* there they are on page one.
    Google is a massive liar and have killed more small businesses than 10,000 WalMarts ever could have.

  • Dolce Vita

    Before the updates we had 10 employees. Now we’re down to 3.5. If we close our doors it’s because our small business can’t keep up with all the hoops we have to jump through for Google. I dream of life without Google.

    • Sujata

      agreed :) and I can relate as my site http://www.SchoolsWeLike.com has seen downwards trend for last 4 weeks (all of sudden) and now i know that has been the reason. I can probably take a look at my site on how to improve it further….and thats never ending process.

  • Sujata

    Thanks Chris for covering it in great detail. Not sure what Google has in store in coming weeks/months for all SEO folks :) My site http://www.SchoolsWeLike.com has seen downwards trend for last 4 weeks (all of sudden) and now i know that has been the reason. I see steep rise back starting this week and back on track. This article helps and I can probably take a look at my site on how to improve it further….and thats never ending process.