Google’s Panda 4.2 update has been rolling out for months, and from the look of things, it’s going to take a while longer to end.
As explained in our previous post, Panda 4.2 will probably take several months to fully roll out. The extended rollout is due to technical reasons, and isn’t meant to confuse webmasters and SEO professionals.
We’re getting little information from Google, forcing some industry experts to observe, crunch data and speculate for themselves. All the mystery, changes, and data fluctuations, however, create more questions than answers.
Was there a Panda Refresh?
Since the official rollout on July 18, 2015, we’ve seen little changes in search queries and site rankings. Google said about 2-3% of queries were affected by the update.
Around mid-August, however, some speculated Panda 4.2 backtracked with a refresh. A post on Search Engine Land says certain websites that recovered from Panda penalties saw their improvements wiped out after August 14.
Many webmasters and SEOs have reported seeing drops in indexed pages, traffic, and SERP rankings. These fluctuations were again observed a few times in October. There’s no official word from Google, but most believe this is part of the slow rollout.
The pre-August 14 changes might have boosted your site’s performance, but as soon as other parts of the update moved forward, it likely took back the improvements. For the October changes, we’re going with Panda, Panda and another Google ranking adjustment, or both.
Google Webmaster Trends analyst Gary Illyes explained that Google does not confirm changes in their core search algorithms. We’re speculating these fluctuations are part of that.
Image Source: https://twitter.com/methode/status/657273952436408320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Manual Push, but Automated Rollout?
When Google said it’ll take months for the update to completely roll out, many SEOs didn’t expect it to be this long. There was even confusion over statements of a manual push and automated rollouts.
Some explained Panda was being manually pushed in increments, instead of a single push that has been rolling out ever since July 28. In a separate Twitter discussion, Illyes clarified it, saying Panda 4.2 was manually pushed once and is now slowly rolling out automatically to all pages.
Image Source: https://twitter.com/methode/status/651768192247816192
Image Source: https://twitter.com/methode/status/651769567690096640?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Once Panda 4.2 rolled out in July, there were no more refinements. This confirms no changes or refresh were made in August or October. The changes several webmasters saw was likely due to the slow, automated rollouts.
What Does the New Panda Mean for my Content?
We know quality content is a major defense against any Panda penalty. Typically, when your site gets hit with Panda ranking issues, you’ll track down the non-useful pages, purge, and delete them.
Google, however, is suggesting that deleting content isn’t recommended. Instead, they recommend fixing the content to make it high quality. This includes low quality and thin content.
Image Source: https://twitter.com/methode/status/651906001986162688?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
In other responses in the same Twitter thread, Illyes offered a few explanations and tips for webmasters:
- “Use search analytics: look for pages that don’t satisfy users information need for the queries they rank for”
- “What you really need is content created with care for the users, that’s it. Blank pages we’d just ignore”
- “…don’t remove content someone might find useful”
In another discussion, Webmaster Trends analyst John Mueller clarified that duplicate content and Panda issues are two different things. Your site can be unaffected by duplicate content penalty, but can still suffer from Panda penalties.
Penguin Coming Soon
After Panda, we’re expecting Google to roll out its Penguin update by the end of the year.
Image Source: https://twitter.com/methode/status/659382431582056450
This Penguin version is expected to be real-time—or at least that is the goal. This means as soon as the algorithm finds out a link is disavowed/removed, it will process it in real-time, and your site will be able to recover from the penalty quickly. On the other side, you could get slapped with a Penguin penalty just as quick.
Make sure you’re on the winning side when Panda fully rolls out and when Penguin comes in by making quality a priority in both content and links. In any case, high quality content and links are always good marketing strategies.
Get in touch with C1 Partners today and we’ll be glad to help you identify, measure, and address any Panda or Penguin impact on your site.