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Did Google Panda 4.2 Update Make A U-Turn?

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The Google Panda 4.2 Update which began rolling out in July 18th, 2015 was expected to be a slow update. However, rumours have it that on August 14th, 2015 the update was changed significantly or completely reversed. Until today, Google has not given a comprehensive response as to why webmasters have seen their gains reversed.

Google Panda 4.2 Update

In February, 2011 Google released its first Panda update which focused on the quality of content, irrelevant as well as redundant content and spam. Any website or web page which had these content anomalies was immediately penalised by either a demotion in rankings or a complete removal from Google database. As opposed to other updates, Google Panda updates are designed to affect the entire site and hence the domain.

When Google Panda 4.2 was rolled out, domains which had been affected by earlier updates and had taken the initiative to rectify and improve received a relief in their rankings. The Panda 4.2 update was the 28th iteration in the Google Panda history.

The Panda 4.2 Reversal

When the update was rolling out, many webmasters were optimistic that their pages would be updated and reflect the revised Panda score. Indeed, with time, small and gradual improvements were noticed in Google rankings. However, from August 14th and beyond, many of the webmasters who had seen these improvements noticed a strange occurrence where their gains were wiped out.

The Challenges of Panda 4.2 Update

At the beginning of the roll out, Google estimated that the update would affect about 2 to 3% of English language search queries. However, according to the feedback from webmasters, the impact from the update may not be traceable for months. The Panda 4.2 is the slowest moving algorithm update in Google’s history. According to John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, the slow roll out can be attributed to unspecified technical reasons. Below are some of the challenges search marketers and webmasters have experienced in the past few weeks.

Absence of Official Confirmation

When it comes to communicating updates, Google is not explicit. This makes it difficult for site owners to prepare and be on the lookout for effects of the update. Without formal communication, many websites stand to be penalised due to minor ranking signals. The reversal

in Panda 4.2 is still unconfirmed because of the random nature of information available. The same scenario happened in May, 2015 during the Phantom update and in June, 2015 during the New-Wave update.

Lengthy Roll-Out Period

Reading from earlier updates, the roll out period is usually shorter and well defined. For instance, the Panda 4.1 update rolled out in September, 2014 took 8 weeks to complete while earlier updates were completed within a short time. Panda 4.2 has been on the roll out mode for 7 weeks and still no one can tell when this will come to an end.

This makes it almost impossible for webmasters to react because no one knows when the cause was rooted. This is why data on site changes appears scanty weeks after the roll out.

Lack of a Clear Differentiation between Updates

The ability of webmasters to clearly differentiate between the effects of one update vis-à-vis another is very important. Where an update takes long before being completed and another one comes unannounced immediately after, confusion may ensue where site owners and marketers find it difficult to analyse the effects of one update in order to respond with corrective action.

Whereas webmasters should rightfully concentrate on quality content generation as opposed to focusing on updates and effects on their sites, at the analytical level it is still important that the effects of these updates are identified and measured. Where an entire domain has been affected by site-wide updates such as Panda 4.2, recovering becomes a little bit difficult. Retaining previous rankings would mean more needs to be done than just optimising landing pages.

At the moment, it is hard to tell who are the winners and losers in search engine ranking as a result of the Panda 4.2 update. This is why we offer technical analysis to our clients as well as Google penalty recovery services to enable them stay on the safe side. Get in touch with us today to start your journey towards freedom from Google penalties.

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