Google Panda Update 20 Released, 2.4% Of English Queries Impacted

Google has confirmed with us that on Thursday, September 27th, they released a Panda algorithm update – this would be the 20th Panda update and thus we are naming it Panda 20. This is a fairly major Panda update that impacts 2.4% of English search queries and is still rolling out.

Late Friday afternoon, Google announced a exact match domain update that removed the chances of a low-quality exact match domain from ranking well in Google. But over the weekend, many non-exact match domain site owners noticed their rankings dropped as well. What was it?

Google confirmed that they pushed out a new Panda algorithm update that isn’t just a data refresh but an algorithm update. Google told us this “affects about 2.4% of English queries to a degree that a regular user might notice.”

There is more to come with this update, where Google promises to roll out more to this Panda algorithm update over the next 3-4 days. Here is the comment Google’s Matt Cutts sent us after asking about this update:

Google began rolling out a new update of Panda on Thursday, 9/27. This is actually a Panda algorithm update, not just a data update. A lot of the most-visible differences went live Thursday 9/27, but the full rollout is baking into our index and that process will continue for another 3-4 days or so. This update affects about 2.4% of English queries to a degree that a regular user might notice, with a smaller impact in other languages (0.5% in French and Spanish, for example).

The confusing part is that there are many sites affected by either this Panda update or the EMD update and it is hard to know which update you were hurt by. For more on this concern, see The Return of the Google Dance.

Panda Update History

We’ve had a string of updates since then, as follows, along with the percentage of queries Google said would be impacted:

  1. Panda Update 1, Feb. 24, 2011 (11.8% of queries; announced; English in US only)
  2. Panda Update 2, April 11, 2011 (2% of queries; announced; rolled out in English internationally)
  3. Panda Update 3, May 10, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  4. Panda Update 4, June 16, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  5. Panda Update 5, July 23, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  6. Panda Update 6, Aug. 12, 2011 (6-9% of queries in many non-English languages; announced)
  7. Panda Update 7, Sept. 28, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  8. Panda Update 8, Oct. 19, 2011 (about 2% of queries; belatedly confirmed)
  9. Panda Update 9, Nov. 18, 2011: (less than 1% of queries; announced)
  10. Panda Update 10, Jan. 18, 2012 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  11. Panda Update 11, Feb. 27, 2012 (no change given; announced)
  12. Panda Update 12, March 23, 2012 (about 1.6% of queries impacted; announced)
  13. Panda Update 13, April 19, 2012 (no change given; belatedly revealed)
  14. Panda Update 14, April 27, 2012: (no change given; confirmed; first update within days of another)
  15. Panda Update 15, June 9, 2012: (1% of queries; belatedly announced)
  16. Panda Update 16, June 25, 2012: (about 1% of queries; announced)
  17. Panda Update 17, July 24, 2012:(about 1% of queries; announced)
  18. Panda Update 18, Aug. 20, 2012: (about 1% of queries; belatedly announced)
  19. Panda Update 19, Sept. 18, 2012: (less than 0.7% of queries; announced)
  20. Panda Update 20 , Sep. 27, 2012 (2.4% English queries, impacted, belatedly announced

Previously we used numbers like “Panda 2.2″ or “Panda 3.92,” but this was proving too confusing. That’s why we’ve shifted to a sequential numbering format.

For more on EMD, see also our follow-up story, The EMD Update: Like Panda & Penguin, Expect Further Refreshes To Come.

Postscript: There’s also a new Penguin Update out. See our story, Google Penguin Update 3 Released, Impacts 0.3% Of English-Language Queries.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google: Panda Update | Panda Update News | Top News

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Takeshi Young

    Why don’t you just stick with Panda 4.0? 20 is confusing.

  • http://www.rustybrick.com/barry Barry Schwartz

    Executive decision. :)

  • http://twitter.com/incrediblehelp Jaan Kanellis

    “The sad part is that there are many sites affected by either this Panda update or the EMD update and it is hard to know which update you were hurt by” Exactly, why would they do that? These “transparent” algorithm notices are getting more crazy making than helping.

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    Interesting how this major Panda update preceded the EMD update by 1 Day which-incidently also was the case with GooPLA and to a lesser extent Penguin which was not 1 day but a few days before and then again a few days after Panda. But oh no no chance these are all related even though the EMD looks like it is taking some anchor flags from Penguin. I agree jumping from 3.9.2 to 20 seems kinda odd like there are 16 or so missing. By the sounds of it it is also like a major update not the same old same old making tagging it 4.0 appropriate much moreso than 20.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beanstalkseo Dave Davies

    I like to remember that for everyone that complains about a loss, there’s a website owner not complaining about taking it’s place. :)

    Gotta love a zero-sum game.

  • http://twitter.com/dr_pete Dr. Peter J. Meyers

    At first, I went “Huh?”, but I think I kind of like it. The whole deciding what’s major and what’s minor is getting kind of irritating, and I wasn’t look forward to Panda 3.9.9.9.1 ;)

  • Alan

    So he announces an EMD update whilst a Panda is going on at the same time? So when people say Matt Cutts is Google’s master of disinformation they seem to be right. The EMD announcement appears to be a smoke screen. It is actually getting to the point were it would be better if he just didn’t bother telling us anything, what ever comes out of his mouth these days is tainted.

  • Durant Imboden

    The “Panda 20″ designation has the virtue of being simple and descriptive. (If this is the 20th Panda update, why not just call it that instead of trying to determine whether it’s an incremental release or a major one?) And the jump from “3.91″ to “20″ isn’t without precedent: Microsoft’s nomenclature for Windows and Office releases has been all over the place.

  • http://twitter.com/PamelaLMcCaslin Pamela L. McCaslin

    what ever comes out of his mouth these days is tainted. http://WWW.GetPositionBetweenMillionaires.notlong.com

  • http://www.authoritybuzz.com/ Ryan Cote

    I agree with you Durant.

  • http://twitter.com/ComentaristaBR Anon Reg

    It’s not a zero sum-game if 5 sites lose their places to 1 site taking up 5 places in the serps

  • Yousee

    I don’s see EMD getting hit by any of the updates, I still see EDM with low quality content in the search result.

  • Deepak Rawat

    i have one domain which effect Panda EMD update. can any one tell me the solution how i increase the traffic in my site now…….

  • Mahendra Varma

    I think this will not effect mostly on the EMD if it is having the quality content instead of that it can hit by panda, Google want to increase the ad words revenue by updating the algorithms strongly that the natural search will become more complicated, so advertiser may concentrate on paid search instead of SEO, SMO.

  • http://twitter.com/RekhaBisht5 Rekha Bisht

    That’s a big change and I am considering its effect on so many sites as it is just after the EMD update, so it has become hard to recognize that from which update people get effected.

  • Juggernart Games

    Awesome!
    Google releases an important update of Panda on their 14th anniversary (27/09/2012). Happy Birthday!
    One day later Cutts announces an EMD update that as he said is unrelated to Panda, but not a single word about important Panda update rolled out one day before (?!)
    Till now there is no official and public notification/confirmation of the Panda update (On Twitter or elswhere), or is there any? (most other updates have been announced, right?)
    About naming:
    Who cares if this is Panda 3.93 or 4.0 or Panda update 20 or whatever. As a webmaster I do only care for the date of an update, what the update is about and if it affects my websites in any way.

  • http://www.internetmarketing247.net Herbert

    whew also new updates but SEO will never die.

  • http://twitter.com/ankitchkt ankit TheRealScholar

    I have seen big drop in ranking specially for keywords “Latvia real estate” and “latvia visa” so canany one suggest how to get back ranking ???

  • http://twitter.com/ankitchkt ankit TheRealScholar

    if your domain is notEMD then things are very clear

  • Sachin Gupta

    We are watching an Action movie named “GOOGLE” Produced & Directed by Google Team; Script Writer Mr. Matt.

    These updates like Gun shoots on our business. As Google starts these update lot’s of people lots their business and job.

    I have seen lots of domain in search results on that having EMD but
    they are on top, it just because of they are paying to Google in anyway.
    Google wants to use their programs so that it would be benefited to
    them.

    I really appreciate about the quality results Google wants to provide
    but why Google norms always works for small biz. Google wants to rule
    on the Search.

    Most of the webmasters try to follow the Google guidelines some of them not but why all business owners suffer for this.

    Google should understand about the how many businesses are depended
    on their search results. As WORLD economy is on slow down, people have
    no money to invest and job. And These kind of updates like day ghost.

    As we know Google Adsense program not approve the website that having
    the adult content or image but about the Top News website that having
    this kind of content & images with Adsense program. It just because
    of they are big clients and having lot’s of daily visitors. Google
    should keep in mind about the small player.

    *** Google Always deny these facts BUT Truth is a Truth ***

  • Maurice Walshe

    Not excatly acting in good faith is it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=520503461 Josh Kruk

    Thinking from the user experience standpoint, this is a good thing. Hopefully it will remove crap microsites that just try to get by on buying domains without providing a useful experience.

  • http://twitter.com/SeoHop Seo Hop

    To announce and emd update and then roll out another update that had a much bigger impact on non emd’s is just trickery by google. I have found 2 examples of hard hit sites and what i found to be the issue with them. http://www.seo-hop.com/googleupdateoctober2012emdpandapenguin/ It does seem to be a fixable issue but it will take some time to establish the ground work.

  • http://twitter.com/SeoHop Seo Hop

    To announce and emd update and then roll out another update that had a much bigger impact on non emd’s is just trickery by google. I have found 2 examples of hard hit sites and what i found to be the issue with them. http://www.seo-hop.com/googleupdateoctober2012emdpandapenguin/ It does seem to be a fixable issue but it will take some time to establish the ground work.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    So, you’re saying that the big brand sites with professional writers win…how is that bad for users? Isn’t that the point of Google updates, to move the quality sites above the content scrapers?

  • http://www.facebook.com/par4media Chris Guynn

    So does anyone know exactly what the Panda 20 change targeted. I lost some 3/4 months old sites (partial EMD’s) and I lost a couple month old sites (partial EMD’s) that had no backlinks to speak of. I honestly can’t figure out what was wrong with any of these sites to have them be kicked out of the top 100 for any rankings they had. Google’s transparency is non-existent in my book.

  • http://www.jdizm.com/ JDIZM

    they sure don’t make it easy to work out what just happened do they..

  • Rich

    he is just saying that the level of playing field has been tilted in favor of those with much more resources as compared to the average webmasters / website owners, not necessarily the content scrappers.

  • http://twitter.com/ComentaristaBR Anon Reg

    So you’re saying sites like ehow are good for users? and based on what you say that the average webmasters are content scrapers?

  • http://twitter.com/ComentaristaBR Anon Reg

    So you’re saying sites like ehow are good for users? and based on what you say that the average webmasters are content scrapers?

  • http://twitter.com/lordofseo Lord of SEO

    I’m seeing this time to cream pie that matt cutts aka small biz killer, 3 sites were massively affected by this ‘EMD’ or Panda, the last two updates or whatever they did had no affect, I got dumped on 100′s of keywords yet others remain stable makes me wonder what they actually do in that big chocolate factory as it just seems either random, or like here you go fuck off with your site type thing.

  • http://twitter.com/ShareTips2 Share Tips

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  • http://www.egiconsulting.com/dotnetnuke/dotnetnuke-support.aspx marco santiago

    Can be a site possible not to be affected by the panda update?
    I-9
    compliance
    | E-Verify

  • SEO Costa Rica

    Why does it make sense to knock down an EMD? This shows that the site owner has their kw’s in mind and is therefore presenting the info the end user is looking for.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    You are joking, right? How is a domain name an indicator of whether or not the site is presenting what the user is looking for? It isn’t. The content of the site would indicate that. If the domain, titles, and incoming link anchor texts all say one thing, but the content doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny, then of course the EMD update, Panda, Penguin or some other part of Google’s algorithm kicks in. The EMD update does not appear to knock down all exact match domains, just those that don’t have the content quality to warrant the high rank EMDs used to get.
    Not sure why this concept escapes so many people.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    What does having an office or even a budget have to do with the ability of a site to provide quality content and a good user experience?

    All these conspiracy theories and whining about Google trying to squash the little guy rarely come with supporting evidence. Nobody ever seems to want to post a link to their site. Could it be that the quality just isn’t there – that the sites that were hit really didn’t deserve to rank as highly as they did? Could it be that these poor innocent webmasters actually DID do things (knowingly or unknowingly) outside the Google guidelines? The few times an outraged “victim” has actually posted what the site in question is, I have been able to spot at least a few obvious problems within a few minutes. Some were “innocent” in the sense that the webmaster didn’t know he shouldn’t put his favorite keyword at the beginning, middle and end of the title of every single page whether it was relevant or not, or something along those lines. But is ignorance an excuse? Had a site like that been launched today, it wouldn’t rank well. It just happens that sites like that were lucky enough to rank for a while. Now these webmasters think since they got away with it before that it must have been OK with Google and the rules have changed. They haven’t, but that is where Google may have some responsibility. Google could have been more strict from the beginning. But since there is no time machine, and perhaps Google didn’t quite have the ability a year or two ago to filter as much as they do now – we have to be grown ups and deal with it.

    So Google has decided to get serious about enforcing rules that have been there for quite a long time. It isn’t as easy to game the system as it once was. Is that Google’s fault?
    A speeding ticket analogy: Years ago, it was difficult for police to measure exact speeds and enforce speed limits. Now they have all sorts of accurate ways to prove it and as a result they are handing out more speeding tickets. And maybe more police have been hired to do more ticketing. Who is to blame when you get a speeding ticket? The driver who broke the law or the police who are doing their job?

  • http://www.facebook.com/julia.cowher Julia Katherine Cowher

    It’s difficult to discern which Google update or filter damages your traffic since algorithm updates occur daily. Also, it isn’t clear what the most recent Panda update changed or affected. In regard to the EMD update, I appreciate Google de-ranking sites that attempt to rank high with an EMD that has no content or low quality content but many non-exact match domain site owners are seeing their rankings drop as well. The startup that I work for, WebKite http://webkite.com/, creates custom vertical search and decision engines that are protected from Google’s traffic damaging updates by automatically preventing duplicate content. The platform automatically suggests a single canonical version of similar pages.

  • http://shroomz81.wix.com/seomaniac/apps/blog/rss SEO Maniac

    You don’t have to worry about all these updates if you know that you’re doing the right thing for your website. Your site’s contents will always be your key to your success. If it has quality and authority, it sure be befitted by your readers as a good source of knowledge that they could find through the internet. We should always remember that every search engine’s main objective here is to provide good quality results for their beloved users. They may have different algorithm and assessment in terms of quality assurances but still they have one goal because they themselves are competing their way up to the top. If someone goes down, another one will take its place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robin.gangawane Robin Gangawane

    Thanks for the information. Even I’ve lost 60% of traffic from this Google Update on 27th Sept 2012. I think so that it was an update of both Panda and Penguin. Because it is also related to links coming from different domain pages and its content. What’s your opinion?? How to overcome this Google update?? What are the precautions to be taken further?

  • Morgan Scholefield

    I think Mr. Matt is confused what to do ! Every time after panda update webmasters recover from panda update…so he is trying his best…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/deanpaulbiz Dean Paul

    Thats a good laugh, one of my main keywords is now 6 30 second you tube videos in first 6 results. Thats engaging content? Oh wait thats right Big G owns you tube

  • http://www.facebook.com/LJMelia Lisa Melia

    It’s official – Google is a stroppy, hormonal teenager! I’ve decided to deindex it from my rankings too – see how it likes that! ha

  • http://www.facebook.com/saiwebtech Rakesh Yadav

    OMG! My site visitors went down to only 10-15 from 60-70 per day. This is a huge drop. Is there a way to overcome this update and get my visitors back. I am thinking of transferring my website to a new domain with no keywords in it. Can you advise me if it will be helpful and how to do it in Google friendly way.

  • http://twitter.com/TraxNYCdotcom TraxNYC Jewelry

    Gotta disagree. Google just wants to provide relevant, useful links — their bread and butter lies with giving people what they want when they search. If you find your site isn’t ranking anymore for certain keywords, chances are your site was low quality and/or you were trying to game the system. If you stay white-hat, provide relevant content that people seek and want, and only go after good, relevant links — you will be safe. It is not fly-by-night if you’re in it for the long haul.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roodhardt Rachel Roodhardt

    Hi, I’ve written an article about Panda 20 & EMD recovery here: http://rachelroodhardt.hubpages.com/hub/Panda-20-and-EMD-Google-Algorithm-Recovery-Plan . The theory in a nutshell is “get behind the google-machine, rather than in the way and getting run over all the time. Hope you like it 8-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/deanpaulbiz Dean Paul

    Quality? If u saw what replaced me- WOW a bunch of spam and 30 second you tube videos. How “engaging” Google. I will not bank on Google for anything, there search results are trash anymore (unless u pay them of course) They are nothing more than greedy money grubbing whores

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseprincely Jose Princely

    So domain impact this Update is? Why Google always thinking about down ranking websites. Not on improving websites ranking with Good links and On page content?

  • http://profiles.google.com/yogeshpatel37 Yogesh Patel

    From 27 Sep 2012, I see a 70 % to 80 % decline in my traffic. Thanks to
    EMD update. Whatever maybe the reason, the Panda effect will stay on all
    the sites. How would I recover from this EMD Panda update?
    Until now my blog never hit by any of the Google Panda, but this one has closed the doors for continuing my blog.
    Suggest me few tips.

  • Barry Atkins

    How about this. Every usiness owner and info site blocked Google’s bots? If that’s the way everyone’s going to go anyway with no revenue. Bye bye google hello Bing! Put the shoe on the other foot. Dont think they realise how many businesses and livelihoods they are killing overnight with their games.These businesses have real employees with real families. Who needs a recession we got google x

  • http://www.facebook.com/rigseo Rigseo Seo Optimization

    @mistersavage:disqus I agree with you, now people are too much dependent on Google. Though I have found bing-Yahoo dont provide bad results than Google. There is lot lot evidence where Google provides bad results. Specially a lot of seo sited have been hit.

    We ought to find other ways of traffic than SEO. SEO had a normal rules.Now Google directing what is right , what is wrong. Anchor text was right once, now they thinks 30% anchor text ok, 30% should be domain name, 40% will be click here type anchor text, so you started to change all.

    After all changes Penguin Panda I found results became poorer than ever. What @google-15bbe0306d178d4e178e5bba4a977a0c:disqus said is correct , G making seo complicated so that people do ppc, but ppc is dependent on seo results. So G making seo confusing complicated, and what Google is talking about quality links or quality guidelines all bogus, and all the seo community is dancing with Google dance.

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