Panda 4.0 – The Latest On Google’s New Algorithm Update

Matt Cutts told us yesterday via Twitter that Google had begun rolling out their latest Panda update, Panda 4.0. Whilst we’ve been waiting in anticipation for the latest full-blown algorithm update since Cutts revealed Google’s plans at the Search Marketing Expo a couple of months back, we were never going to be totally sure when Google would actually start rolling it out.

Panda 4.0 is specifically designed to improve websites with high quality content and demote any with poor quality content.  Sites with a poor level of content will now struggle to make it into Google’s top ten search results. The changes made to Panda include Google’s overall perception and identification of a website, so that they can sort poor quality from strong quality.

The first thing that tells us Panda 4.0 is a pretty big deal is that we aren’t usually informed about the vast majority of Panda updates that occur, as they tend to roll out automatically one a month. However, this isn’t just Google refreshing data, this is an entire algorithm adjustment that will have a significant impact on how certain sites rank from now on.

So what’s the reception been like? Well, Matt Cutts told us at the SMX conference that a ‘softer’ Panda algorithm update was in the works, with the main focus being on improving ranking opportunities for smaller businesses. By focusing on strong content, smaller businesses could be wholly judged on their ability to meet the requirements of their clients or customers. So all in all, the reception has been pretty good.

On the other hand, experts have identified a number of issues with the latest algorithm when looking at some of the larger sites and how they rank with certain keywords. A perfect example would be eBay, who according to Dr. Pete Meyers have suffered heavily as a result of the algorithm update.

“Digging into the May 19th data, I noticed that a few keywords seemed to show losses for eBay, and the main eBay sub-domain fell completely out of the top 10” said Dr. Meyer, after studying the consequential effects of Panda 4.0.

So that seems like quite a heavy blow for eBay, who don’t really rely on the quality of their content when trying to rank in Google. Nevertheless, it seems evident that smaller businesses will welcome Panda 4.0, although a debate can be had as to whether you can really call this algorithm update ‘soft’…