Over the past week many webmasters have noticed a sudden change in their rankings & traffic levels giving rise to speculations that Google might have done a date refresh.
Google has now confirmed this speculations saying that Panda 3.2 was released just last week, however it is simply a data refresh of the algorithm with no additional signals or algorithmic changes.
Why this update?
After receiving several complaints from users who found it difficult to find the actual content on a website after they clicked on a result, Google thought it was time for a minor update that got sites with relevant content in the first fold of the web page and push down sites that dedicate a large fraction of the page to ads. With this Panda update, such sites may now not rank as high as they did previously.
As told by Google:
We’re continuing to iterate on our Panda algorithm as part of our commitment to returning high-quality sites to Google users. This most recent update is one of the over 500 changes we make to our ranking algorithms each year.
The Panda updates first started in February 24th 2011, when the ‘Farmer Update’, an algorithm designed to penalize the content and link farms was rolled out . The next major Panda updates came in the last week of September (Panda 2.5) and November 2011 (Panda 3.1).
Since then, “Panda Update” is a phrase webmasters do not like hearing as it always creates unrest in the SEO world. This update came after a long time since the Panda 3.1 update back in November 2011 after which Google gave a respite to webmasters over the holidays with an announcement of no Panda updates scheduled during holidays.
History of Panda updates is as follows:
- Panda Update 1.0: 24th Feb 2011
- Panda Update 2.0: 11th April 2011
- Panda Update 2.1: 10th May 2011
- Panda Update 2.2: 16th June 2011
- Panda Update 2.3: 23rd July 2011
- Panda Update 2.4: 12th August 2011
- Panda Update 2.5: 28th September 2011
- Panda Update 3.0: 19th October 2011
- Panda Update 3.1: 18th November 2011
So if you have noticed a drop in your ranking and traffic, then you now know why. I wonder when Panda is going to strike next!