Google's Newest Panda 2016

Why Google’s Newest Panda Might Not Hit Till 2016

Anyone who is familiar with Google’s algorithm updates knows that they are extensive, frequent and often vague in terms of detail.

Although Google’s most recent update, Google Panda 4.2, was released in July of 2015, many SEOs believe that the rolling-out process of the newest major Panda update isn’t actually done rolling out.

Read on to learn more.

Google's Newest Panda 2016

Looking At the Current Panda 4.2 Update

When Panda 4.2 was introduced in July of this year, its express purpose was to reward quality content and down rate scraped, duplicate or low-quality content. From the get-go, it was clear that this Panda was a little slower moving than the others, but, even as the weeks began to wear on, very few SEOs expected so much time to pass before admins started to notice changes in their sites. Sites that were hit by Panda 4.1 have had to wait 10 months to redeem themselves and, due to the fact that 4.2 is also painfully slow to roll out, it’s unclear whether the changes made by those previously affected sites have actually been effective. Needless to say, this is a source of frustration in the SEO community.

panda gif

In addition to being amazingly slow to implement, Panda 4.2 is also impressively extensive. When Google released Panda 4.2, it stated that 2-3% of Google’s search queries would be affected but, when you take into account that Google gets billions of daily searches, 2-3% equates to roughly 36 million affected queries. This makes it the broadest update in quite some time due to the fact that, between 2011 and May of 2014, no individual Google update affected more than 2.4% of search queries. Even though SEOs know that Panda 4.2 will affect millions of searches, the entire process has been so slow to roll out that nobody knows how, exactly, those millions of searches will be eventually be affected.

In the light of all of that ambiguity, it’s tough to make any solid statements about Panda 4.2. The one thing that SEOs do know for sure about this Panda update is that, as usual, quality content is the only safe place to be. This means avoiding things like keyword stuffing, ugly sites or exploitative SEO practices. Because Google has dedicated itself to rewarding high-class content and down-ranking sub-par content, sites that publish well-written, original content are less likely to be negatively affected by the mysterious new Panda updates.

While nobody quite knows just yet what Panda 4.2 will reward or punish, most SEOs believe that creating great content and avoiding bad SEO practices is a safe place to sit and wait for the changes to begin showing themselves.

Questions Regarding Panda 4.2’s Status

The main question people have about Panda 4.2 is “is it here?” The answer is “Yes – but only kind of.” Panda 4.2 was instated around July 18th, 2015, at which point Google said the changes would take place over “several months.” Obviously, that’s vague at best and absolutely unclear at worst. What we do know is that Google waited 10 months after Panda 4.1 to release its next update and that a large portion of that was due to technical glitches and complicated system issues.

Additionally, while it’s not uncommon for a Google algorithm change to take a number of months to go into full effect, it’s clear that this one is going extra-slowly. This is actually the slowest Panda roll out to date and, as such, many SEOs are concerned that the new changes are so complex that they can’t easily be instated in a matter of days.

Google, however, says this isn’t true. During numerous interviews, the company has stated that the new Panda roll out isn’t going slowly purposely to confuse SEOs or to make life more difficult. Instead, the company says that this slow Panda roll-out is a preview of coming attractions: a time when Panda will be one, large, continuously rolling and changing system that is incorporated into the company’s most fundamental algorithms. While the company acknowledges that they’re not there, yet, it seems as if this ultra-slow Panda roll out is the first step in that direction.

Additionally, the company has assured SEOs that, while Google Panda 4.2 is a site-wide action, it is unlikely to affect each of a site’s pages in the same way, which is why many SEO’s have yet to see any real or definitive changes. Sites that are bound to be dinged by Panda 4.2 may not actually know it until the entire roll out is complete – some time in the distant future. At that point, affected sites will need to wait until Google releases its next update in order to revamp their pages.

The Verdict: The Newest Panda In the Works May Not Hit Us Before 2016

Considering the fact that there were 10 long months between Panda 4.1 and Panda 4.2, it seems unlikely that the next update will happen any time before 2016.

For now, the best Google has to offer is that site owners should keep an eye on their analytics. By isolating organic traffic driven by Google and closely analyzing any large dips or boosts, site owners can begin to get an idea about whether the big Panda is here and, furthermore, whether it has begun to affect their sites or not.

What You Can do to Stay Sane During the Slow Roll Out

Although many SEOs feel a bit helpless during this time of Google ambiguity, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the uncertainty and ascertain whether Panda 4.2 has affected your site:

1. Frequent Site Audits. The first is that you can keep checking your site for any positive or negative impacts that seem different from the norm. This is likely to be a strong indicator of the fact that Panda 4.2 was there. Unfortunately, however, once the changes are instated, it’s too late to do anything about your site and, if you have content that is going to be punished by Google, it will be punished no matter what you do. 

2. Stay Informed. With that in mind, it’s wise to continue keeping an eye on your site and visiting popular Google hangouts for any definitive news about Panda 4.2.

In the meantime, be extra aware of web spam and crappy content and avoid both like the plague. While the new Panda may be more mysterious than all of the others, SEOs need to take comfort in the fact that there will eventually be some answers.

While Google Panda 4.2 is officially here, it’s tough to know exactly how it’s going to affect sites just yet. While it’s not all that different than previous updates, Panda 4.2 promises to be increasingly tough on content mills, web spam and poorly written pieces.


In light of this, the solution is the same as it ever was: cling to high-quality, original content and avoid bad SEO.

That way, when the big, bad Panda does decide to show its face, your site stands a better chance of being prepared.

Panda gif via Tumblr

What The Heck, Is There A New Google Panda Coming Out?

Way back in 2011, content marketing as we knew it was completely upheaved when Google updated its algorithm with what is known as the Panda update.

Since then, Google has updated its update by refreshing Panda, but nothing that seems as major as that grand 2011 update.

According to Search Engine Roundtable, though, there hasn’t been an official update in 9.5 months and there has not been an unofficial update in 8.5.

It should be here soon, though.

However, the questions now become – when will it get here and what will it do when it does?

Don't be fooled - the Panda from Google isn't cute and cuddly.

Don’t be fooled – the Panda from Google isn’t very cute or cuddly.

The Original Google Panda

Google’s Panda update began the movement of ‘content is king’ that we know, and hopefully love, today. After this update, Google started ranking poorer content sites or sites with thin content lower, which made room for higher content sites to finally rise to the top.

However, because this was not the way things were done at the time when quantity was key, a lot of sites swiftly saw its rankings fall. And the thing about Panda is that it ranks sites, not pages.

What Does That Mean?

Well, if you have a lot of bad content on your site but also some good content, don’t expect to be ranked high for those high-quality pages. If your overall site is ranked poorly, so is that incredible piece you crafted that would have explained everybody’s problems if only anybody had found it.

This means that sites who all of a sudden found themselves … wait, I take that back… this means that sites who all of a sudden didn’t find themselves (because they weren’t being pulled up on Google, obviously) in pleasant situations, well, they had to start revamping their entire site.

3 Other Things Panda Punished

Poor content is not the only thing that you cannot get away with and still rank high under Panda. There is a lot else as well.

1. Duplicate Content

Meaning you can’t write one article five different ways (or even two different ways) and act like you had a lot of content on your site.

2. Generic Content

So the writing itself is good, but what is the point? In order to be considered good content, it needs to actually be able to help readers.

3. Non-Quality Rater Approved Content

Google’s Panda update is largely dependent on quality raters that determine how trustworthy and credible sites are. The higher a quality rating, the better the site will do under the Panda algorithm.

Basically, what you have to do in order to be Panda-approved is have trustworthy, beneficial content where every page on the site adds value to the rest of the site instead of just rephrases it.

That’s not too hard, is it? Since many sites went up with Panda, it must not have been too hard for them.

What Have Been The Major Panda Updates?

For many, Panda updates are a blessing in disguise.

How so?

Let’s say you have a website that was hurt by a version of Panda. Since then, you have built a strong site filled with cutting edge content that will be a boon to anyone who reads it. You also got rid of all of your bad content.

In other words, you made over your site to catch Google’s eye. When an update comes, then, you should feel great about yourself. All of a sudden, you are ranking high again just like you did pre-Panda.

That’s a big reason for these updates. Yes, they fix some more problems and clean up some old ones. However, one of the biggest things these updates do is reward the people who worked hard to get their site back to the quality their reader’s expect and to punish those who slipped.

From the original Panda release in February 2011 until the last release in October 2014, Panda has been updated 27 times. If you do the math, you will see that adds up to an update on average less than every other month. That’s a whole lot of updating. For a history of the updates, Moz sums it all up for you.

Now, think about the fact that it has been 8.5 months since any type of update has occurred. As Search Engine Roundtable reports, that is a long time for websites who are ranked lower to have to wait in order to see if they can get bumped back up to the top.

What Is Coming? Some Announcements Straight From Google

It has been a while since Panda has been updated, but Google has made plans to make an update soon. However, we are all left guessing as to when soon might be.

As Search Engine Land reported, Google’s own Gary Illyes announced this upcoming update and said he expected it to be released within the next two to four weeks. The only problem with this statement, though, is that it was said on June 2 – which was six weeks ago.

So where is the update? According to Illyes Tweet from June 9, it is still in the “soon” phase, but no ETA can be given for technical reasons.

As for what will be effected, Illyes has stated it will be a data refresh, as opposed to an algorithm change. No matter how it is worded, though, things will change whenever it is updated.

Here’s My Tip: Be Panda Prepared

One of the best things you can do in order to be prepared for anything that Google throws your way is just keep getting rid of bad content and churning out good content (or turning your bad content into good content instead of just trashing it.)

The whole algorithm making you rank high or low all comes down to that. Google might change things. You might have to do some adjusting at times. However, if you make your content the best it can be, then the changes will not affect you all that much, nor will the adjustments be that time-consuming, expensive, and/or burdensome.

As more information is learned, for example when the update actually occurs, we will make sure to keep you in the know.

If you want to take that worry completely off of your plate, then check out our content services, and let us do the preparation and upkeep for you.