Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed the Panda 4.0 update last week, its official roll out date announced as 20th May. The update concerns the quality of content on websites and how well they do in search rankings as a result of that quality. The aim is to rewards sites with high quality content and push down low quality sites with thin content.
The release comes at the same time that they release an update to target spammy websites such as payday loans. It’s unusual for them to release different updates and algorithm changes at exactly the same time and as a result it is leaving some webmasters a little confused. When releases happen concurrently it makes understanding impactful results on websites harder to analyse and therefore harder to redress. Even when the changes make a positive impact it is still useful to understand why this may be.
Twitter has abounded with these sort of questions over the last week, with many wondering if changes in search results rankings have been Panda or Penguin-related, or if they have been a result of the action taken against spammy websites. Many are indeed asking the question as it makes it significantly harder to explain to website owners why a decrease (or even increase) in rankings and resultant traffic may have happened.
This is likely to be of greater concern if the impact has been negative, although it’s also useful to be able to explain a spike to customers or when working on your own site. Many websites have actually seen a positive boost as a result of this Panda (or indeed any other) update, sometimes without having done anything to boost the website themselves. It’s been argued that the Panda update included changes so that Google’s crawlers are better able to find and dig out good quality content on sites which already have it.
Sometimes the structure of a site can make it harder for Google to find and therefore determine that it’s a site with high quality, relevant content. This update may have included changes to the algorithm which meant the Google bots can crawl deeper in the site and dig out the useful content, irrespective of what site structure has been used.
A bit of investigation has revealed both a boost for some sites and a significant dip for others. Ebay, for example, usually received 1% of all of Google’s traffic however this plunged to 0.28% last week.
At the moment the only definite knowledge is that is has been released, anything else is mere conjecture. What will remain however is Google’s (and therefore webmasters’) insistence that the focus remains on producing good quality content for sites and eradicating any spammy behaviour. These two main elements should satisfy the main crux of both updates.