Last Friday, Google confirmed that it had finally begun rolling out a refresh to its infamous Panda algorithm the prior weekend. It's still rolling out as the company said it would take "a few months" to complete.
Are Google's Panda refreshes too slow and far between? Share your thoughts in the comments.
The update, Google's Gary Illyes said, affects 2 - 3% of queries.
The refresh is particularly noteworthy because it took Google so long to actually launch it despite telling webmasters it's trying to do these things more quickly. And that's important because websites that are impacted have to wait for a refresh for a chance to recover any lost visibility in the search engines.
The previous Panda refresh came as long ago as October. At that point, Google indicated Panda would pretty much continue indefinitely. It would seem that this wasn’t quite the case, even if that is still Google’s ultimate goal.
While you may have no sympathy for sites that are negatively impacted by Panda if they're producing the type of content that the update was designed to target (thin, low-quality content), there are cases when the update also negatively impacts higher quality stuff. In those cases, the long wait for a chance to recover is a little more disturbing.
A few years ago, for example, IT discussion community DaniWeb was hit by the algorithm despite being a forum with a solid user base and being the kind of site that provides helpful answers for real problems that people have.
Not even a popular site like Metafilter is immune to Google's wrath.
A more recent and maybe even a better example would be Search Engine Roundtable. This is one of the go-to industry blogs for SEO with content exclusively from a long-term veteran of the industry, often with direct quotes from Google itself. It's not the type of site you would expect Panda to go after, yet last October, that's exactly what happened. Under the new refresh, the site is indeed recovering even if gradually.
Schwartz is seeing continued improvement since the latest refresh, he's still waiting to get back to where he was before the Panda hit in October.
"There is plenty of room to grow but hopefully as the new Panda scores hit all my pages, recovery will come back in line with what it was before Panda 4.1 hit this site," he writes.
Despite Schwartz's reports, some questioned the authenticity of the news of a Panda refresh actually occurring, but Illyes confirmed it directly on Twitter:
@rustybrick Yes, last weekend we began rolling out a Panda refresh that will take a few months to complete. It affects 2-3% of the queries.
— Gary Illyes (@methode) July 24, 2015
It's also a global roll-out, by the way:
@dnespo it's rolling out slowly globally
— Gary Illyes (@methode) July 29, 2015
With this one being such a slow rollout, it's hard (and unnecessary) to say who the real winners and losers are at this point. It's going to be a while before we really have an idea. In fact, Searchmetrics, which regularly publishes lists of apparent winners and losers for major Google updates, says there's no pattern yet.
"It is not yet possible to detect a clear pattern regarding the winners and losers in the rankings, nor is it possible to correlate these results with specific aspects of the Panda update," said Searchmetrics founder Marcus Tober. "In this regard, we expect to see changes in the SERPs over the coming weeks. We will continue to observe the data and keep you updated on this page about the effects of the Panda update."
In the meantime, it might not be a bad idea to review Google's 23 questions you should ask yourself about the quality of the content on your site.
Google has said in the past that Panda should help small businesses, but it's unclear to what extent this has actually happened. We tend to hear more about the businesses that get hurt by it (which are sometimes forced to reduce their staff).
Have you been waiting for this latest Panda refresh to come? Have you been impacted by it one way or another so far? Let us know in the comments.
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