Many webmasters have over the past week been reporting both positive and negative changes to website traffic levels on or just after the 18th January. The cause of this sudden change to traffic and ranking positions has until today been unknown, albeit strongly rumoured by search marketing professionals and webmasters alike to be linked with a new Google update.
Rumours put to rest
Google's confirmation to Search Engine Land today has put these rumours to rest. They have however stated that no algorithm changes have been made with this update, making it clear that they have merely 'refreshed' the data.
In that respect, websites which were initially hit by Panda algorithm changes and made a conscious effort to rectify their website issues in recent months may have seen vast improvements to traffic. Conversely however many websites now falling foul of Google's 'quality' metrics may have suffered with this latest data refresh.
To recap on the Panda algorithm, websites are not constantly being evaluated and placed within the Panda 'penalty' area. Rather, Google periodically updates their Panda algorithm alongside a data refresh meaning that websites hit by the Panda updates can take several weeks/months to see any improvement whilst they wait for Google to hit the 're-appraise' button once more.
Panda update history
Previously known Panda updates have occured on the following dates:
- Panda Update 1.0: 24th Feb 2011
- Panda Update 2.0: 11th April 2011
- Panda Update 2.1: 10th May 2011
- Panda Update 2.2: 16th June 2011
- Panda Update 2.3: 23rd July 2011
- Panda Update 2.4: 12th August 2011
- Panda Update 2.5: 28th September 2011
- Panda Update 3.0: 19th October 2011
- Panda Update 3.1: 18th November 2011
- Panda Update 3.2: 18th January 2012