Google has confirmed a new and “improved” Panda algorithm update is in the process of rolling out, according to an employee’s Google+ post.
Pierre Far of Google UK wrote: “Earlier this week, we started a slow rollout of an improved Panda algorithm, and we expect to have everything done sometime next week.”
Panda, which first launched in February 2011, is designed to filter out or reduce the rankings of sites with content issues, making it more difficult for webmasters and marketers to ‘cheat’ Google using low-quality, spammy content.
Since then, 27 updates have rolled out – some minor, some major. The last major update, dubbed ‘Panda 4.0’ by some, rolled out on May 20, 2014 and affected roughly 7.5% of English search queries (according to Search Engine Land).
This update affects roughly three to five per cent of search queries, according to Far. Because of its smaller nature Search Engine Land has dubbed it ‘Panda 4.1’, and we would bet on this name sticking.
Updates have slowed in recent times. This is only the second update of 2014, and only two updates came in the whole of 2013. By contrast, 14 updates were confirmed during 2012.
So what does this new Panda mean for search engine optimisation? According to Far, Google has listened to user feedback to craft an update that can “identify low-quality content more precisely.”
Crucially, this means that a “greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sizes sites” should achieve better rankings.
As with any update (or refresh), a new Panda means a new chance for webmasters to recover rankings if they were previously affected by the update.
Of course, it also means sites with poor-quality content could be hit with penalties – after all, for a “greater diversity” of sites to rank better, we have to assume that a certain number of sites will see decreased rankings.
Check back for more information on the update and its affects as they emerge.
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