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The Google Panda Algorithm Update

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What is the Google Panda Update?

The Google Panda update is a significant algorithm change and update that affected a large number of users’ search queries in its initial update and each subsequent release.  Google creates code-names for its larger algorithmic updates, and the Panda update (originally called the Farmer update) was a large enough collection of search algorithm updates to merit its own code name.

How many changes does Google integrate per year?  

Google has reported that they make over 400 changes each year to their algorithm.  These updates are usually collected together and released in bunches.  Google’s general practice is to release changes to the USA search market first, tweak the changes to make sure that they are performing the way that they want, and then roll them out to all English language search queries globally. Depending on the change, Google may also apply the algorithmic changes to non-English language search queries to their country specific search engines (google.de, google.fr, etc.).

Why was this change more noticeable than others?  

This change was more noticeable than other changes because it affected a large volume of search queries (over 10% of all English language search queries).  It was also more noticeable because the update affected some websites by removing 50% or more, and in some cases 90% of some website’s traffic coming from Google search queries.

What caused Google to create and release the Panda update?

In the months leading up to the Panda update, Google was receiving increased criticism about the quality of their search results. Websites containing content that was aggregated or scraped (stolen) from other websites were routinely outranking websites that created the original content.  There was also a perception that Google search results had become less relevant and useful.  Jeff Atwood, of the CodingHorror blog and StackOverflow fame, wrote a widely read and commented on blog post talking about his frustrations with Google’s search results in January, 2011.  One of Mr. Atwood’s best lines in his blog post was:
Throughout my investigation I had nagging doubts that we were seeing serious cracks in the algorithmic search foundations of the house that Google built.
What he didn’t know was that a major Google algorithm update was coming a little over one month later, on February, 24, 2011.  This was the first Panda update (also known as the Farmer Update), aka Panda 1.0.

Part 2 on the Google Panda can be seen at this link

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