At Search Marketing Conference, SMX Advanced over the first weekend of June, Google’s Gary Illyes said a Panda refresh was coming our way in the next 2-4 weeks. Just after that timeframe expired, he tweeted that the update is ‘still in the “soon” phase’ and that he couldn’t give an ETA for technical reasons.
The last official Panda update was Panda 4.1 which came into effect around 10 months ago, so it is definitely due a refresh. Any website that got stung back then for producing low-quality content has had to wait, and still is waiting, for the latest refresh to come out so they can show Google that they have learnt their lesson and have made the necessary amends to their sites.
It is widely agreed amongst the SEO community that these updates or refreshes happen far too sparsely; a lot of websites/companies pinged by Google often never return as the loss of online visibility for the majority of web based businesses can be catastrophic. Dropping a site from the SERPs is one thing, but then making them wait months/years before contemplating allowing them back on is too much, and then once allowed back on, you then have the unenviable task of working your way back up the rankings again starting from scratch...but that is the power Google wields and as we all know, Google dictates what goes on in the online world we live in - so make sure you play by its rules!
Moving into July and in a Google hangout, Johannes Mueller from Google said the update was coming in the next few weeks, but again, couldn’t be specific. The wait continued.
Fast forward to yesterday (22nd July) and according to SEO bible Search Engine Land, Panda 4.2 has finally arrived. Google have said that the update has officially been pushed out, however the roll out is happening exceptionally slowly. Webmasters should expect to see gradual changes in site traffic, rather than the usual instant ones associated with algorithm updates, as the algorithm is still site-wide and so can effect different pages at different rates. This is good but not great news if you are the owner of a Panda penalised website as you now have the chance to emerge from the online abyss, however it is clearly going to be a slower process than what we expected.
We will keep you updated with the impact from this as and when we know more.