Just a few weeks ago, Google rolled out its latest Panda search-algorithm update -- otherwise known as the search update that could destroy your business.
Ever since, experts in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) world have been struggling to understand the potential impact.
But it turns out that few analysts can quantify the effects of the Panda update. In reality, Panda 4.0 may just be another overhyped move by the powerful Google.
The Panda Punch
Google drew more attention to this particular Panda update, for whatever reason, even though the search giant's content algorithm is updated at least monthly. Matt Cutts, Google’s "Head of Webspam," called out last month's release on Twitter.
Google is rolling out our Panda 4.0 update starting today.— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 20, 2014
The latest Panda is designed to cut spam in links, hone in on high-quality, niche content, and stop people from gaming search engines with low-quality or duplicate content. But this has been part of Google's search goal for a while, and now it's clear, despite some sensationalistic stories, that the latest Panda is just a step further in that direction.
"The buzz around this Panda was that it was a bigger one," said Andy Kuiper of AndyKuiper.com, an SEO consultant based in Calgary, Alberta. "Panda is supposed to update every month, algorithmically. This last one had some buzz because Matt Cutts announced it, and there is a lot of stuff being thrown around. But it may have been overhyped."
News sites pounced on the update, attributing it to some large traffic swings. Sites such as Ask.com and eBay appeared to be hit very hard by the Panda update, with traffic declines as much as 50 percent, according to some reports. Other firms, however, have seen equally large boosts.
Correlating daily traffic shifts with Google algorithms is tricky. And in fact, even after the first wave of updates, it became apparent to some that Google continually adjusts search so that the most serious impacts waned after a week or so.
PR Takes a Hit
The widely stated goal of Google's Panda updates to its search algorithms is to reinforce high-quality content in search results and push out lower-quality content or spam.
One area that seems to have drawn the attention to many SEO analysts, and might be real, is a decline in search among press release sites, according to several industry reports.
When breaking down exactly what Panda penalized and favored, it's sensible to follow Panda's long, common theme, which was been widely communicated by Google: It seeks to favor original, high-quality, focused niche content, and filter out marketing-driven stuff.
'Awesome' Traffic Surges?
Glen Gabe, a digital marketing consultant, has analyzed almost 30 websites and the impact from Panda. On his blog, he said the results were wide-ranging, with some companies taking large traffic hits and others staging "awesome" traffic rebounds, which he attributed to the work they did to optimize for Google's adjustments.