Back in March, Google launched a Panda refresh. This is something they've done numerous times since first launching the update back in early 2011. There was something special about this particular refresh, however, because it marked the beginning of a new era of Panda in which Google will keep the update going regularly, without announcing all the refreshes.
"Rather than having some huge change that happens on a given day. You are more likely in the future to see Panda deployed gradually as we rebuild the index. So you are less likely to see these large scale sorts of changes," Google's Matt Cutts was quoted as saying.
Matt Cutts appeared in a discussion at SMX Advanced Tuesday evening in which he spoke a bit about Panda, among many other things.
Interviewer Danny Sullivan asked Cutts how many Panda updates there have been since Google stopped confirming them. His response was that they had one about a month and a half ago, but hadn't updated it since then because they're looking at pulling in a new signal that might help some people out of the gray zone.
This brings to mind recent words from Cutts in an industry-famous video in which he discussed numerous upcoming changes.
In that, Cutts talked about Google changing its update strategy for Panda. “We’ve also been looking at Panda, and seeing if we can find some additional signals (and we think we’ve got some) to help refine things for the sites that are kind of in the border zone – in the gray area a little bit. And so if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have some additional signals of quality, then that will help sites that have previously been affected (to some degree) by Panda.”
Panda will apparently be updated about once a month, and roll out slowly throughout the month.
"What happens is Google will run the update on a particular day, let’s say on the 4th of the month," explains Barry Schwartz from SMX sister site, Search Engine Land. "Then Google will slowly push out that impact over 10 days or so through the month. Google will typically repeat this cycle over monthly."
Hat tip to Matt McGee for liveblogging the discussion.