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:
Google is rolling out our Panda 4.0 update starting today.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 20, 2014
This past weekend we started rolling out a ranking update for very spammy queries: http://t.co/NpUZRqpnBI
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 21, 2014
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.
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