Last week we stated that there was some buzz in the Webmaster Help forum from UK webmasters speculating that the Farmer/Panda had been released upon them. It looks as those the people were just experiencing "regular" fluctuations. Google announced yesterday that they have "rolled out this improvement globally to all English-language Google users," such as Google.com, Google UK, Google Australia etc. Thousands of sites were negatively impacted in the US when Google unleashed the Farmer/Panda updates in February of this year.
The main purpose behind the original Panda/Farmer algorithm updates was to directly combat the copious amounts of web spam that have been permeating the SERPs for years. By reducing the amount of low-quality and content-scraped content, the update was intended to let the cream rise to the top through the removal of low quality or offending sites that did not adhere to Google’s quality guidelines.
Google said that the new version of the Panda algorithm is designed to incorporate user feedback signals to help searchers find better results. Google also stated that they will begin factoring in the sites that people block as part of a site’s quality score. "In addition, this change also goes in deeper into the "long tail" of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before." Google stated that the additional updates to the Panda algorithm should only affect approximately 2% of US search queries, whereas the original update effected more than 12% of US queries.
In the press release, Google states that they are getting great feedback from searchers. They are finding better, more relevant results from many great publishers and that are getting more traffic from the original update in February. From the results that we have seen in our corner of the SEO world, we have witnessed many sites dropping significantly with very few regaining their former rankings. It may be a scenario where site owners are hesitant to say that there rankings have improved. Most are still feeling shell-shocked from the effects of the first update and are concerned of what may occur with it’s global implementation.
Google has been fairly forthcoming about what qualifies as a quality site in their webmaster guidelines. Yet in spite of the valiant efforts by many SEOs and webmasters to reach the new status quo, we still see low quality sites ranking well and high quality sites doing poorly after the update; leaving us all feeling a uneasy.