I noticed a few pretty large traffic fluctuations across some of our sites this morning (this site’s traffic increased by 36.7% compared to last week, woohoo)! After a bit of searching around, it turns out that Google’s just rolled out Panda 4.0.
What’s different about this update?
Google’s panda updates target websites with low quality content. In my experience, this usually boils down to one of two fundamental issues that are exacerbated by other issues. Those two fundamental issues being thin content and duplicate content.
While the panda update is said to target everything from slow page loading speed to ad:content ratio, I’ve never come across a website that has been hit by panda exclusively for being slow, having too many ads, or any of the other many factors implied by Google’s panda recovery guidelines (if everything else was okay).
There’s been no comment by Matt Cutts or Google yet on whether this update targeted anything different, but I imagine they’ve tweaked the algorithm to either target a larger range of keywords (incidentally, they did announce that they were working on their pay day loan algorithm over the weekend). Alternatively, Google may have just tightened up how they’re identifying low quality sites.
How big is this update?
Google told SearchEngineLand that the update affects 7.5% of all English queries, to a degree that might be noticed by a regular user.
To me, this looks like a pretty massive update. While Algoroo is reporting slight ‘above average’ changes for yesterday, Mozcast has reported massive fluctuations in search results this week. Of course, we won’t really know until tomorrow’s data comes out – but based on what we’re seeing so far it looks to be a big one.
What to do if your site’s been hit
I’ve written extensively on cleaning up a panda penalty, and what the usual culprits to look into are. As mentioned in the article above, a good place to start is to audit your site against all of the possible causes to diagnose where the issues are.
From there you can begin to systematically make changes that will improve the quality of your site and get it ranking well. Bear in mind that panda updates tend to take a while to fix, as you’ll often need to wait for the next algo data refresh for your site to get reindexed.
I’d be keen to hear what anyone else is noticing with this update. In particular, are the sites that have dropped the same as the ones hit by the last Panda updates, or does there appear to be anything different with this update?