Google has started to implement the latest version of Panda, its search results ranking algorithm. Originally released in February 2011, Panda had as its aim the lowering in the rank of so-called low-quality or thin sites and the promotion of higher-quality sites to nearer the top of online search results.
It has been ten months since the last confirmed release of a Google Panda update, so the latest roll-out, version 4.2, could be regarded as being overdue. The latest update – in technical terms, it is a refresh – may have gone largely unnoticed, however, because the world’s leading search engine has decided to roll it out slowly. Indeed, Google is saying that the full implementation of the update may be months away from completion.
As a consequence for websites, some pages may not see a change right away, though the Panda algorithm continues to impact on an entire site. Google’s own estimates are that the rollout, which began over the weekend of 18th and 19th July, has impacted on approximately 2 per cent to 3 per cent of search queries made in the English language.
Another implication of Panda 4.2 is that any site penalised following the last update now has the opportunity to correct those changes and restore organic rankings over the gradual course of time.
There has been much speculation surrounding Google’s apparent decision to reduce the speed by which sites are affected by the Panda update, with one train of thought being that the slow rollout could signal that the company is one step nearer to making Panda updates a daily occurrence. In the past, Google has expressed the desire to do precisely this. However, owing to the daily data processing that would be required as well as the speed at which Google would have to process and act on whatever findings it makes, it would seem clear that daily updates remain some distance away from being enacted.
Webmasters for web copywriting services and providers of other content for online consumption are certain to welcome the opportunity provided by Panda 4.2 and future updates to improve search ranking and optimise content.