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

Danny Sullivan on
  • Categories: Channel: SEO, Features: Analysis, Google: Panda Update 🐼, Panda Update News
  • 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: http://goo.gl/woSU3

    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.

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    About The Author

    Danny Sullivan
    Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.