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The Impact of Google’s Panda Update (or lack thereof)

Phillip Reinhardt

Every so often, Google unveils its latest algorithm that analyzes website content and rewards or punishes it based on quality. Last month, Google announced the roll out of Panda 4.2, and while the tech giant is very secretive about the inner workings of its ranking algorithms, a number of industry experts have weighed in on that we’ve learned so far.

“This past weekend we began a Panda update that will roll out over the coming months,” a Google spokesperson said, according to TheSEMPost. “As you know, we’re always working to improve Google so search results are higher quality and more relevant for everyone and this is just one way we do that.”

More of a “refresh” than an update

Whenever Google updates its algorithm, it’s normally a complete game changer. Luckily, this time around Panda 4.2 (Google’s 29th Panda update!) is technically a refresh and not an update. The refresh still applies identical signals from the preceding update, resulting in less fallout.

Fewer queries affected than expected

Prior to the rollout of Panda 4.2, experts anticipated the refresh to impact 3-5% of all search queries. However, now that the refresh has time to set in, it’s become clear that the number is much closer to 2-3%. The overall impact of Panda 4.2 is vastly smaller than the last true update that took place in May 2014, which affected 7.5% of all search queries.

Small & medium sites benefitting

“Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely,” Google’s Pierre Far said. “This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.”

Act before it’s too late

The original Panda update occurred in 2011, and at the time Google claimed that the new algorithm would reward users with valuable content, rather than just search engine optimized content. Moving forward, it would be in your brand’s best interest to create high-quality, original content to bolster rankings and maintain consistent user traffic.

This may sound like a simple solution to a complex question, and maybe it is. At its very core, Google wants to prevent webmasters from loading the system in their favors while looking for loopholes to maintain their positions at the top of rankings and search results.

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