I recently did a great event in Leeds as part of the Leeds Digital Festival organised by Simon Wilson from Twentysix, with some of the best search minds from the region including Lee Allen from Stickyeyes, Andy Heaps from Epiphany Solutions and Ben Bisco from Home James to name a few (as well as others from BlueClaw, Bloom Media and Fusion Unlimited.
One of the questions posed to the panel was regarding Panda, something which it is quite obvious there is still a lot of under awareness of what it is and where it impacts. I was interested to see this morning that Google have pushed Panda 2.3 live. Changes to the algorithm are fairly common place – however what was interesting from some of the coverage of the latest update was Google defining actually how Panda works.
Going back to my earlier references to the Leeds Digital Festival, during the line of questioning one of the panelists mentioned that Panda wasn’t a one off and this was a regular ongoing ( rolling) update. From the latest update, Google have now confirmed that the Panda updates are in fact not rollng updates, but rather require a manual push from Google themselves to go live.
When one looks at the frequency of Panda updates this can possibly be put into better context
Panda Update 1.0: Feb. 24, 2011 – Primary hits US only sites
Panda Update 2.0: April 11, 2011 (about 7 weeks later) – Rolled out internationally
Panda Update 2.1: May 10, 2011 (about 4 weeks later) – Smaller Panda refinement rolled out
Panda Update 2.2: June 16, 2011 (about 5 weeks later) – Improved scraper detection
Panda Update 2.3: July 23, 2011 (about 5 weeks later)
The latest update (Panda 2.3) “incorporates some new signals that help differentiate between higher- and lower-quality sites.” “As a result, some sites are ranking higher after this most recent update,” according to a Google spokesman.
Whilst these are a manual update a rough pattern post Panda 2.0 is starting to develop. Between Panda 2.1 – 2.3 a gap of between 4 and 5 weeks is clearly evident between updates. The frequency of such updates whilst manual would suggest Google potentially do not see this as a long term requirement (ie regularly update algorithm updates) however whilst they are refining the algorithm they will push updates up on a regular basis. Further to that, Google have already said they push live around 500 updates during the course of an average year, so such updates one may suggest may just become part and parcel of general algorithmic updates.
What is increasingly evident is that those affected by Panda are still struggling to make back much of the loss of keyword coverage they had previously
This is certainly not the last of the updates, there is still a lot of low quality sites out there in the search engine rankings still utilising low quality search engine optimisation techniques to rank well. I would suggest this is something we are likely to see as part and parcel of the Google landscape for the foreseeable future – and I would suggest if they can get it right its something I wholeheartedly back. What the fallout of this update is still to be seen however as organisations become more aware of the new boundaries we may see a new SEO landscape to work within.