Panda Update 3.92 Rolling Out (Or Is It Panda 20 Time?)

Google’s announced that another Panda Update is being unleashed on its results, one that it says will impact 0.7% of queries. We’re calling it Panda 3.92, through we’re wondering if it’s time to declare Panda 4.0 upon us.

Here’s the official news from Google:

Panda refresh is rolling out—expect some flux over the next few days. Fewer than 0.7% of queries noticeably affected:

The link leads to Google’s official announcement of the first Panda Update back in 2011.

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 1.0, Feb. 24, 2011 (11.8% of queries; announced; English in US only)
  2. Panda Update 2.0, April 11, 2011 (2% of queries; announced; rolled out in English internationally)
  3. Panda Update 2.1, May 10, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  4. Panda Update 2.2, June 16, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  5. Panda Update 2.3, July 23, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  6. Panda Update 2.4, Aug. 12, 2011 (6-9% of queries in many non-English languages; announced)
  7. Panda Update 2.5, Sept. 28, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  8. Panda Update 3.0, Oct. 19, 2011 (about 2% of queries; belatedly confirmed)
  9. Panda Update 3.1, Nov. 18, 2011:  (less than 1% of queries; announced)
  10. Panda Update 3.2, Jan. 18, 2012 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
  11. Panda Update 3.3, Feb. 27, 2012 (no change given; announced)
  12. Panda Update 3.4, March 23, 2012 (about 1.6% of queries impacted; announced)
  13. Panda Update 3.5, April 19, 2012 (no change given; belatedly revealed)
  14. Panda Update 3.6, April 27, 2012: (no change given; confirmed; first update within days of another)
  15. Panda Update 3.7, June 9, 2012: (1% of queries; belatedly announced)
  16. Panda Update 3.8, June 25, 2012: (about 1% of queries; announced)
  17. Panda Update 3.9, July 24, 2012:(about 1% of queries; announced)
  18. Panda Update 3.91, Aug. 20, 2012: (about 1% of queries; belatedly announced)
  19. Panda Update 3.92, Sept. 18, 2012: (less than 0.7% of queries; announced)

Numbering Panda: From Panda 1 to Panda 2

Google doesn’t always announce these updates. Sometimes, we get reports of ranking changes being noticed, and then after the fact, we get a Google confirmation. Sometimes Google does announce them, either the day the go live (as is the case today) or shortly after the fact)

When Google announces or confirms and update, sometimes it explains how much of an impact it is expected to have on the search results. The very first Panda Update was huge, estimated by Google to have an impact on 11.8 percent of all queries done on Google in the US. In contrast, today’s announced update is said to have an impact on less than 1% of queries globally.

Google doesn’t number these updates. We began doing that when the second Panda Update happened. Since it was the second, we called it Panda 2.0. At times, people from Google have occasionally used our numbers, as have others (notably on SEOmoz’s excellent chart of Google algorithm changes).

From Panda 2 To Panda 3

When the third Panda release happened, we were ready to call it Panda 3.0. But Google itself said that this wouldn’t be right, that it was a minor update that wasn’t worthy of a full increase in number. That’s why we dubbed it Panda 2.1.

Following updates were all minor, so we carried along with the “point” naming, in other words, Panda 2.2, Panda 2.3 and so on.

In hindsight, we probably should have dubbed Panda 2.4 to be Panda 3.0, because it was such a major change in that Panda rolled out beyond the English language (except for Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages). Still, perhaps we’re to be forgiven given what happened when we finally did get to Panda 3.0.

You see, Panda 2.5 came and went, yet another minor update. Then we had a warning of “Panda Flux” get issued, which made it sound like the schedule of Panda Updates happening every few weeks was changing to an ongoing update.

Instead, Google belatedly said that one of the updates we numbered as minor should have been tagged as major (and thus warranting a 3.0 figure). We did the best we could to figure out which one that was, which is why the October 19 update became Panda 3.0.

Getting To Panda 4.0

When do we finally get Panda 4.0? I suppose it’s whenever we want to declare it. Potentially, it happened in March. I say that because March is the last time Google said the impact on queries would be above 1%.

In hindsight, this seems an obvious metric to use, how big an update is as given by Google. But as I’ve explained, Google doesn’t always give that estimate. In fact, with Panda Update 3.5, no one even knew that a Panda Update had happened. Because it came around the time of the Penguin Update, all the ranking changes that normally signal an Panda Update were masked by Penguin Update changes. Only Google itself commenting that a Panda Update had also happened alerted everyone.

As the updates kept coming, we hit something unexpected. We were running out of point numbers. That’s why we ended up with Panda 3.91 last month and Panda 3.92 today.

Panda 20, Anyone?

We could go back and say that Panda Update 3.4 is being renamed to Panda 4.0, which would bring today to Panda 3.7. But there’s no guarantee we’ll have another major-enough Panda Update to get us away from having a Panda 3.98 or Panda 3.933 or … well, you get the point.

I’m against going back and renaming things, because people get used to a name, so changing adds to confusion, rather than clarifies it. Instead, I’d be curious to hear comments from others on how you’d like to see Panda naming (or numbering) go forward.

One thought is to lose the entire point system that started with Panda 2.1. If we’d ignored Google’s advice and just made Panda 2.1 into Panda 3, regardless of how “major” it was, we’d be at Panda 19 right now.

That leads me to think the next Panda update should be called Panda 20, regardless of how big it is, then going forward we simple increase the number by one.

There’s no doubt we’re going to keep having them. Google said to expect Panda Updates on a roughly monthly basis. So Panda 20? Stay tuned for October.

Related Entries

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


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Diana Marwell

    This is an expected one from google. But This time they tell 0.7 %.. I think it will bring big Fluxiation..

  • Zach Johnson

    I’m excited/nervous for this one. It’s been anticipated that something big is coming.

  • Gyi Tsakalakis

    Could this be what was forecasting on 9/14?

  • Nick Ker

    Better get the flux capacitor ready.

  • Scott Krager

    We are seeing a pretty big spike on the 1,000 site index we track here…looks like some decent volatility:

  • Ram SEO

    Thank You Share Very Help Full Information

  • Oleg Korneitchouk

    Panda Update 3.91 was on 8/20, not 8/19.

    Anyone seeing changes in rankings?

  • Aqeel Bilal Malik

    @dannysullivan, though I posted your message to my twitter followers today, but still have a question. Should that be a 3.9.2 or 3.92 ? As .92 refers to 92 different updates as rolled out within this version of #Panda update ?
    Any comments.

  • Jim Hodson

    Hey Danny. I’m digging the 1..n (in this case 19) update labelling system. Since Google really gives no indication of which are major versus minor, it seems logical for us to not try to differentiate with the numbering.

  • Danny Sullivan

    I think 3.92 is fine. Honestly, the numbers, as I’ve explained, probably need to shift away from these point versions in the future, so we don’t have these types of questions.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Thanks, I’ve updated that.

  • MasterTechMark

    I’m getting use to these updates. It’s like going in the Ocean. First it seems bitter cold and scary but after a while you get numb. What I don’t grasp is the official numbers attached to the updates “Fewer than 0.7% of queries noticeably affected” Since webmasters are the ones who care can’t we get a number or measurement that would tell us how much traffic the average site will loose? These queried measurements never seem to align with the devastation.

  • victorpan

    We should name the updates by DATE + some defining description. Counting the number of updates makes as much sense as the arbitrary software patch numbers we’re appending.

    I’m sure the students who’ll be studying the history of search 20 years from now would very much appreciate it.

  • Fili Wiese

    I am also in favor of just using full numbers. Django development does the same and I always liked this.

    Btw, the Facebook pop up is overlapping with the comment box in chrome on the nexus, so you can’t read what you are writing. Maybe time for some responsive design of search engine and?

  • David Smith

    In my field of canine websites I have seen a major shakeup happen & all for the good. Sites with little content or that were keyword stuffing were slapped down – as they should be. These are sites that were missed in the previous updates & seem to have been mopped up now. Go Panda & Penguin!

  • Darrin Lim

    Yeah, I like this… something along the lines of Panda 120918 (yymmdd) would work and make it easy to identify when it happened

  • Authority Buzz

    It’s amazing how much attention Google’s updates get now.

  • Matt Barrie

    Less than 1% of queries affected but if you add that list up you could probably get to 30-40%

  • Jose Tinto

    It would be easier to make use of the full numbers.

  • ESPInfo

    Small sample size but no differences on the 3 sites I work with.

  • Tilak

    Each update is important for site owners so I think we may use full number.

  • Victor Talha

    Thnx so much for writing this Danny Sullivan! ,-)

  • Aqeel Bilal Malik

    Absolutely right! these point figures keep things confusing for bloggers like us. Though, every data refresh to the algo goes beyond what it is normally expected. So keeping it Panda 4, Panda 5, Panda 20, can be a best option for #Google Team.

  • G. Katsiakoudis

    Like we Greeks say: “Ta Panda rhei” (Everything flows).

  • Botla chinna

    Then the time has came to check our website queries rankings

  • Steve Krause

    This latest release is very odd. All year, previous PANDA updates brought traffic to my blog. This time around, I’ve lost about 20% from this single update.

    Very painful.

  • Wolfgang Axamit

    good to hear that something is going on. proably they are removing double domain results

  • Nate C

    Who cares about what exactly they call the update?

  • Ben Guest

    If you are going to do version updates, and the version stays the same, why not just implement the date it took place?



  • Ben Guest

    Keyword stuffing!!! LOL

  • André Kuik

    Just create good content and Panda will leave you alone!

  • Ben Whitaker

    Maybe they need to find another animal that starts with ‘p’. Where’s the platypus update?

  • Usedtobegooglefan

    yes and no, I’ve had great content for years, the many updates of Panda were fine then somewhere around June/July they started using the Cluster system and from 1st page around 5th or 6th position for many results I’m now back around 205th – 206th, the first 199 sites are all one site, the next 4 or 5 in front of my site were the same as before the update. You shouldn’t have to scroll 20 pages to get choice!

    I also started finding this with things I was looking for myself, not just results for my website.

    For the first time in 13 years I’ve changed my default SE. Which shocks me, google should be getting better not worse! Since 1999 I’ve been singing their praise as a good SE, this is the first time ever I’ve left them for another service, and it’s not because many of my pages have dropped but because I don’t need 20 yellow pages or amazon results before I get a variety to look through.

  • Dr. Peter J. Meyers

    Looking back, I think we should’ve switched to “4.0″ with Panda 3.7, which seems to have been data+algo and caused huge flux (Penguin-scale). Hindsight is 20/20, though, and I’m not sure how much it really matters. We need to recognize that just naming it is only one piece of the puzzle.

  • Dr. Peter J. Meyers

    Can’t tell for sure, but probably not. Looks like Google was running a large-scale test, possible related to diversity and/or the 7-result SERPs (which are connected to the diversity problem).

  • Steve Krause

    Censorship via Google…..

  • Muhammad Fawad Baig

    My site visits increased by 100% on 18 Sep 2012.

  • mark rushworth

    there was one on dec 19th 2011… that was a merry christmas :(

  • Sunayna Gupta

    Hmmm..numbering the Panda updates is a tedious process indeed…

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