It’s official! According to Search Engine Land, Google has launched a new and improved update to the Panda algorithm: Panda version 4.0. After a week of speculation amongst SEOs, Google’s Matt Cutts announced the release on Twitter.
Back in January we talked about the wide array of Google updates thrown our way, and how those wildlife titled changes widely affected search engine optimization. The launch of Panda 4.0 marks breaking news in the industry, and it isn’t breaking alone; the Panda update is accompanied by Payday Loan 2.0 and a shocking change for eBay. What changes have been implemented and what do they mean for you? Let’s take a look at what we know thus far…
Panda 4.0 and You
Algorithm updates are sure to give webmasters a headache as they scramble to survey the damage (if any) and initiate damage control countermeasures. Algorithm updates almost always mean a shift in search engine rankings. According to Search Engine Land, ‘”Google’s Panda algorithm is designed to prevent sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results.”
We’ve seen modest updates to the algorithm since its original release, but the release of the 4.0 update appears to be more notable than previous changes. According to Moz, it’s “major… which probably means that it is both an algorithmic update and a data refresh.” Moz goes on to point out that while Cutts’ tweet announced a May 20th rollout date, it’s likely the update started rolling out on May 19th since “most Panda updates over the past year have been multi-date roll-outs.”
Over the next few days, we’ll learn more about just what has changed in the world of SEO. But in the meantime, we’re hearing good news.
Search Engine Watch released an article today that held promising news for webmasters. The article quotes Marie Haynes of HIS Web Marketing as saying, “I think it’s too early to say what this new iteration of Panda is affecting, but I can tell you that in the case of the site that I saw big improvements on, no cleanup work had been done at all.”
Therefore, if you’ve taken our repeated advice to keep your content high quality, fresh and engaging, you’re likely to see SERP improvements as the full impact of 4.0 is felt over the next few days. This is not to say that a negative impact hasn’t been felt. We’ll get to that in just a minute.
Payday Loan 2.0 – Cracking Down On Spammy Queries
Speculation regarding an update to the Payday Loan algorithm has been circulating for a while. Search Engine Land reports that the original rollout of the algorithm specifically targeted “very spammy queries.” An update was confirmed over the weekend.
We documented the introduction of this algorithm last year in our “Timeline History of Web Copywriting” infographic. According to Search Engine Land’s article, “Google told us this specific update is an international rollout and it affects different languages to different degrees, but this impacts English queries by about 0.2% to a noticeable degree.” In essence, the upgrade to Payday Loan is cracking down even harder on spammy queries as Google flexes its muscles and continues to weed out quality from spam.
eBay Experiences an Update Shockwave
Moz documented a noticeable change in eBay’s SERP ranking as they dropped from #6 to #25 between May 19th and 20th – even before Matt Cutts announced the Panda update. At this point, the reason behind the drop is left to speculation (Moz’s report offers some viable probabilities). One thing is certain: for whatever reason, eBay has experienced some negative impact from the 4.0 implementation, specifically to their category page rankings.
What Does It All Mean For You?
It’s too soon to tell. Currently, there is a great deal of speculation surrounding these updates and their overall impact. If you’ve been around for previous algorithm releases or updates, then you know it’s time to batten down your hatches, weather the release storm and assess the damage as it appears. Search Engine Watch is even venturing the prediction that we are likely to see a Google Penguin update in the near future as Penguin 2.0 launched one year ago this week. Seeing how Google has released the Panda 4.0 and Payday Loans updates so close together, this speculation does not strike us as farfetched.
The good news is that for those who have focused on high quality, well written content while keeping their audience firmly in focus, not much appears to have changed. And with Google focusing so heavily on quality content as a rank increaser, it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. If you’ve invested in high quality content, keep up the good work – you’re on the right track. If not, it’s time to dig into just what awesome, quality copy is and how to attain it.