Google has pushed out another Panda Update. The company tweeted about it as the weekend got underway, saying that about 1.6% of queries are "noticeably affected".
The tweet links to the original announcement about the update (from before the public even knew it by the name Panda). Given that Google pointed to this article, it might be worth stepping back, and revisiting Google's own explanation of the update.
The post was from Google's Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal. "Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible," the post began. "This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time."
"Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them," it continued. "But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on."
Obviously, many algorithmic changes have been made since then, including quite a few to Panda itself. How much do you think Google's results have improved over that time? Are they better?
"We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites," the post went on. "It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does."
Many, many sites did indeed go down. Some clearly deserved to do so, but for others, this was questionable. Granted, some were able to make recoveries, and Google admitted that the algorithm was not perfect.
For most of the time since Panda initially launched, Google had one main help thread, where webmasters could vent their frustration and state their claims as to why they felt their site was unjustly penalized by the algorithm. Google made it clear that they were reading the thread. Earlier this month, however, the thread got split up, though the company still encourages posting and finding old posts via search. Things just might not be as convenient as they were under one centralized thread.
Prior to the new Panda refreshed, as tweeted by Google, the last Panda update, in February, improved how Panda interacts with Google's indexing and ranking systems. Google said it was "more integrated into our pipleines". Google also said it was made "more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web."
Image credit: Rick Bucich