Google recently began rolling out the newest iteration of their search algorithm with Panda 4.0. Google has said this is bigger than the monthly updates it usually does to the algorithm, so there is a really big chance that websites may notice big changes to the amount of traffic they get from Google. A recent report from SearchMetrics shows that Panda 4.0 is already having a dramatic effect on search results.
Though the update has only been active for a week, SearchMetrics was able to immediately see the effects because they continuously monitor certain sites. Within a day, they released a list of Winners and Losers. They tracked the change in Google traffic to these sites in absolute values and then ranked them in terms of percentage change (i.e. if a site with 5,000 average views per day suddenly gained 5,000 more views, that would be a 100 percent growth; if a site with 20,000 average views gained 5,000 more views, it would be a 25 percent growth).
Some major companies saw their sites take huge hits in the immediate aftermath of the update rollout. For example, the Reader’s Digest site, RD.com, saw a 75 percent decline, as did the Disney-owned Spoonful.com.
Another site that may have suffered from the update is eBay. According to the SearchMetric data, eBay saw a 33 percent decline traffic. However, other sites that also happened to be tracking eBay traffic reported slightly worse results.
“Over the course of about three days, eBay fell from #6 in our Big 10 to #25,” stated Dr. Peter Meyers in the Moz analysis of the data.
However, a report from RefuGeeks noted that the eBay was most likely hit with a manual penalty that just happened to coincide with Panda update. Recently, eBay began creating additional subcategories that were just being used to optimize SEO. ReCode came to the conclusion that eBay was overusing the technique and Google gave them a manual penalty as a result. To be fair, neither eBay or Google have officially commented on the situation.
A similar situation may have happened to the site of a payday lender. Again, the decline was mostly related to spammy posts that were being penalized in a new update to the Google Payday Loan Algorithm. This however, isn’t specifically related to the new updates for Panda.
“Over the weekend we began rolling out a new algorithmic update,” a Google spokesperson told SearchEngineLand. “The update was neither Panda nor Penguin — it was the next generation of an algorithm that originally rolled out last summer for very spammy queries.”
Despite all the negative news, it’s important to note that many website saw their traffic greatly improve due to the Panda update. As was discussed in a previous blog post, Google’s Matt Cutts said they were working on a more small business friendly algorithm and this may be it. According to the SearchMetric data, relatively small sites like DogTime.com and MomsWhoThink.com saw their traffic increase by more than 100 percent. And some sites, like the pop culture news site Zimbio.com and medterms.com saw an increase in over 500 percent.
It’s still early, but it appears that this most recent update of the Google algorithm won’t be as punishing as previous ones. To be sure, some sites will gain traffic and others will lost it, but it won’t be a situation where a few sites benefit greatly at the expense of others, or where small business sites are drowned out by large companies. The SearchMetric data is evidence of that. The sites that lost the most traffic lost about 75 percent of their daily average views but the sites that gained the most saw more than a 500 percent increase. This means that the Google Panda 4.0 update will probably do more harm than good for most websites.