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.