Google Panda Change History

Launching fearlessly into a critique of things Google in order to get a grip on the molten lava that is the number of SERP formats growing in number and complexity – and how to turn that to our advantage – I thought to myself ‘Eh. Whoa. Big picture stuff – where are we with the Google algorithmic Panda thingummy?’

As you would. As in, like, woods and trees.

Previous Panda Updates

A whileen back, we posted on the Provenance of Panda, in summary:

  • Panda Update 1.0: Feb. 24, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.0: April 11, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.1: May 10, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.2: June 16, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.3: July 23, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.4: August 12, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.5: September 27, 2011

Panda Eyes

Okay, so Panda updates thereafter as follows:
Panda 2.5.1Panda Flux on October 5th
The Panda 2.5 update was pushed out by Google on September 27th/28th and then, on October 5th, Google promised tweaks and some sites hit, subsequently confirmed being back and recovered fully. Matt Cutts tweeted: “expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks” and gave a figure of “~2%”. Other minor Panda updates occurred on 3rd, 13th and 18th October.

Panda 2.5.2 on October 13th
A minor update here resulting in some fluctuations of rankings for hither and yon. Most of the jumping up and down seems to have been performed by exasperated online marketers…

Panda 2.5.3 on October 18th
…and then this: Google announced they would be encrypting search queries, for privacy reasons. Unfortunately, this disrupted organic keyword referral data, returning “(not provided)” for some organic traffic; this number increased in the weeks following the launch.

The Crux of the Flux

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

After Panda 2.5, then, Google entered a period of ‘Panda Flux’ where updates started to happen more frequently and were relatively minor. Just for pig-iron, and because you just can’t be confused enough about this stuff, some industry analysts called the November 18th 2011 update 3.1, even though there was no official 3.0. In any case, less than 1% of searches were affected. Apparently. So rumour has it.

Panda 2.5, then, was 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.

Here, then, is what the re-configured timeline looks like, taking into account the above information:

  • Panda Update 1.0: Feb. 24, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.0: April 11, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.1: May 10, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.2: June 16, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.3: July 23, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.4: August 12, 2011
  • Panda Update 3.0: October 19, 2011

If you noticed traffic declines from Google organic referrals following updates, 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)

Google SSL Change Encryption for Search Queries
Google Caffeine
The Provenance of Panda
What is Google Panda?
What is Google’s Farmer Update?
What is Google PageRank?

John Hargaden is CEO of wevolution digital, your full-service digital marketing partner focussed on growing your business online. Case Studies.