Panda Update 3.0 Live & Panda “Flux”

On around September 27th, Google launched what’s being called 2.5 of its Panda algorithm. On October 5th, Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted:

“Weather report: expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks, but will have less impact than previous updates (~2%).”

Panda-related flux? Indeed, this seems to be the case, with site owners reporting Panda-related changes on at least October 3rd and October 13th. In several  cases, I saw sites with Google organic traffic declines on 9/27, recovery on 10/3, and decline again on 10/13.

I talked to Google to find out more about the flux and what site owners could expect. Google confirmed the flux but didn’t provide any other detail other that what they’ve said in the past. The crux is that:

  • Some Panda updates are due to new signals being incorporated into the overall Panda algorithms
  • Some Panda updates are recalculation of how sites perform within the Panda algorithms, based on updated data about the sites since the last recalculation
  • The only difference with this update vs. the previous ones is that there will be (and have been) several updates (presumably of both types) within days or weeks of each other

Panda 2.5 then is a series of Panda algorithm and site recalculation updates over a period of several weeks. September 27th, October 3rd, and October 13th have been confirmed by Google, but it appears that there may have been several other updates (of either Panda algorithm changes or site recalculations) as well during this period.

If you’ve noticed traffic declines from Google organic referrals since September 27th, remember that Panda is a site-wide assessment (so even high quality pages will be impacted)  and key recovery strategies are around:

  • Creating valuable content (so the page is the best answer to the query on the web)
  • Consolidating approximate duplication (if lots of pages on the site about the same topic)
  • Getting rid of exact duplication (syndication, manufacturer feeds and other measures that result in the exact text appearing on multiple sites)
  • Improving usability (such as ensuring a valuable and engaging user experience, providing easy and useful navigation, not obscuring the content with an overwhelming amount of ads)
  • Working on engagement (building a site that people want to stay on, link to, return to, share, and otherwise show happiness towards)

Postscript: We’ve updated the headline of this story to reflect that this is the Panda Update 3.0 that Google belatedly confirmed.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Panda Update Must-Reads | Panda Update News | Panda Update Tips | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.

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  • TimmyTime

    Vanessa, how is Google doing financially these days? Panda must have hurt them too, no?

  • Mike Childs

    Great write up Vanessa – I found myself telling clients they were been hit by the last panda update followed by a call weeks later to tell them that the Panda update actually benefited them in the end. A little messy from a reporting standpoint while they make their improvements but its all good if the best content gets matched to the searchers query.


  • Allan Hall

    Well Followed the instructions on the SEL website and this Panda update was very good to us. Thanks searchengineland . Quality helps!!

    TimmyTime Record profits they make Algo changes for a reason.

  • Nathaniel Bailey

    I love this bit “key recovery strategies are around:” and everything you listed is what people should already be doing in order to offer the best they can!

    And its those people that already do all that list and more who are winning with the panda updates as its those sites which deserve to rank well :) So the bottom line is, you need to build a great website and build great links if you want to rank well on google! The same as its always been IMO :)

  • Nancy E. Wigal

    Nice wrap-up on what to do rank strong, and I particularly like that you emphasized usability and overall “stickiness” of the web site to boost visitor loyalty. Thanks for the update!

  • S.E.

    On 19th October, I also found some update in Panda as not confirmed by google. My website hits very hard and gone to the 8th page on even the website has quality content. I think it may update in upcoming days as well. Waiting for the next update!!

  • TimmyTime

    “TimmyTime Record profits they make Algo changes for a reason.”

    Accusing Google of changing their algo to make more money? Panda must have lowered their earnings because it has improved the quality of search results so people click less on ads. Isn’t that how it works Vanessa?

    With Panda key is to do a great site and when you get out of the bed ALWAYS put the right leg first down. Otherwise you will not see a positive result in Google. Many of you may have great sites but forget the leg thing and have the nerve to complain as if it’s someone else’s fault!!!!! If it doesn’t work in 3 months try it for longer and keep checking here for more advice on taking a “closer look.”

  • Vanessa Fox

    See this interview for my thoughts about Google’s motivations and impact on Google’s revenue:

  • B.R.M.

    not obscuring the content with an overwhelming amount of ads? Has anyone done a search on Google lately? Google Places, Google Ads, you have to literally dig deep in Google now to find an organic search. Come on if you’re going have 500 rules than release those rules for the public to abide by. Or shut up and go home and quite grading us like we are in high school. Wait even there I had books to study before my exam. By the way Google had its best quarter yet netting over 2 billion out of 10 billion in profits. I don’t think they were hurt any by Panda.

  • TimmyTime

    From Vanessa’s link: “However, Google believes that this is best done by providing maximum value to end users, as this helps them maintain and grow market share. They make more money this way than trying to squeeze extra CPM out of their web pages at the cost of user ”

    Thank you for explaining and thank god for Google’s attitude!!! Otherwise we’d have the SERPs page full of ads, Google’s own links on top, bottom, left, right, middle and top brand names that also advertise on Adwords on page#1. That would be squeezing extra CPM and RUIN the user experience but Google wouldn’t do that.

    …and than I awoke up.

  • Robert Renman

    This update is a pain – we have several sites that went from 1 to 10-15 in Google. I hope they make a new update soon that lessens this blow!

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