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Google’s Panda Algorithm Update - Panda2.5

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Panda2.5's Release Date

The latest Google Panda algorithm update was released late on Tuesday, September 27th, and was noticed to have started affecting website traffic on Wednesday, September 28th.  Google did not proactively announce this update, but confirmed on September 29th & 30th that they had released another Panda iteration.  This release date confirms the 4-6 week cycle of Panda updates that are based on Panda's longer-running machine learning algorithm that is tuned and then released live to affect Google’s search results.

What was the focus of the Panda2.5 update?  

Based on the winners/losers of Google search traffic increases/losses, the Panda2.5 update adversely affected smaller brands more heavily than bigger and more well known brands.

As mentioned in the Searchmetrics stats, several news/gossip/information websites were affected and caused them to lose significant amounts of search engine referral traffic, including prnewswire.com, hollyscoop.com, thehollywoodgossip.com, businesswire.com, and car magazine website motortrend.com.

The websites that were most positively affected by the Panda2.5 update were bigger brands like Google’s own YouTube, Google’s own Andriod.com, and other non-Google big news brands like FoxNews, USNews, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Celebrity gossip magazine US weekly and PerezHilton.com, the bigger brands of celebrity gossip, were boosted while other smaller celebrity gossip websites were negatively affected as mentioned above.

What clues are out there for what is coming next?


In Matt Cutts’ latest Q&A video, he talked about Google’s algorithm continuing to target the amount of unique content that is above the fold.  It seems that future Panda iterations will negatively target websites that have content pages with a significant percentage of advertisements or other Google-determined less valuable content weighted at the top of the page that users would view at first glance. Google appears to be trying to drive website owners to have the most and best content immediately available for users to view as the first thing they see when they come to a webpage.

Another area that Google will likely be targeting to include in their algorithm is Google’s rel=author tag.  This description tag will provide an internet-wide authorship credential (based on the author’s Google profile) that will likely be integrated as one of the many ways for Google to determine the best quality content.  This will be based on the reputation of each author, and I’m thinking that eventually content authors will be judged on their Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and bounce-rate, and those metrics will be as important as or more important than website-related CTR and bounce rate metrics.

What was not in the update (that we know of)?

A website’s +1’s from the Google +1 rating system have not yet been integrated as mentioned by Matt Cutts in his live Q&A video from Sept. 21st, 2011.  Google's +1 system is a way for internet users with a Google profile to "vote" using a +1 button that they like or approve of a website, or an individual page on a website.

There is some suspicion that Google will be slowly integrating +1’s into the Panda algorithm in October 2011, but that idea is based on Matt Cutts' video comment indicating that they are looking at it closely with no other confirmation yet from Google.

Google is still not reporting “block this site” data from Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) or from their Google Chrome site blocker in their Google Webmaster Tools(GWT).  Now that Google is reporting the +1’s and looking to integrate them into their algorithm, they should also release the “block-this-site” or “-1” data, at least to the website owners who have been validated and have a GWT account setup for their website.

There will be more Panda algorithm reporting when Panda2.6 or Panda 3.0 are released.

If you haven't read about earlier Google Panda algorithm updates, my original Google Panda Algorithm series starts with this article.
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