In two announcements via Twitter last night, Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed the roll-out of two algorithm updates, the Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0 and Panda 4.0.
Over the past couple of weeks there has been a lot of talk within the industry about SERP fluctuation and ranking shifts on various scales. Despite Google initially denying the rumours of an update the continued speculation from webmasters around the world around SERP change begged to differ. Even some of the flux monitoring tools such as Mozcast and SERPmetrics showed a high level of fluctuation, especially yesterday (20th May 2014):
Mozcast 19th May 2014
SERPmetrics 20th May 2014
Yesterday Matt Cutts put an end to this speculation with the confirmation of Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0 and Panda 4.0.
The first announcement concerned the launch of Panda 4.0. Despite Google previously stating that they are unlikely to announce any future Panda updates following the integration of Panda into the search algorithm, the ever insightful Matt Cutts told webmasters that Panda 4.0 began rolling out yesterday.
Google is rolling out our Panda 4.0 update starting today.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 20, 2022
The Panda algorithm originally launched in February 2011 aimed at identifying websites with poor quality content, and lowering the rankings accordingly. Panda 4.0 is rumoured to be a major algorithm update as opposed to a data refresh which have become somewhat more frequent. The impact of Panda 4.0 is said to differ depending on the language of the query, but it’s said to impact approximately 7.5% of English queries, a notable amount that “regular users” may notice in day-to-day searches.
The question on most webmasters minds is whether or not this update relates to the “next generation” of “softer” Panda updates which Matt Cutts mentioned at the Search Marketing Expo in March 2014, said to directly help small business perform better within organic search. This remains to be seen. Prior to Google confirming the rollout some research detailing possible changes for eBay rankings, and following the announcement Dr Pete wrote this post discussing the eBay losses in a little more detail.
Could the eBay ranking losses be the first step to opening the doorway for smaller businesses? That’s one theory but there’s no way to tell at the moment.
Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0
Shortly after the announcement of Panda 4.0, Matt Cutts announced in a second tweet that Google began the roll-out of the Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0 over the past weekend (17th/18th May 2014)
This past weekend we started rolling out a ranking update for very spammy queries: http://t.co/NpUZRqpnBI
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 21, 2022
The first payday loan update, which launched almost a year ago in June 2013, was intended to target spammy search queries such as [payday loans] and some pornographic related search queries. The 2.0 update (which is unrelated to the Panda or Penguin algorithms) is an international rollout set to target “very spammy queries”, affecting different language queries to differing degrees but said to affect English queries by approximately 0.2%.
Exactly what constitutes a ‘very spammy’ query is debatable. Dr Pete has reported heavy fluctuation around search queries such as “mortgage rate trends” and “cheap apartments” but there are no firm conclusions as of yet.
The impact of any update is usually quite vague this soon after the initial rollout, and even more difficult to determine when Google deploys more than one major algorithmic change at once. But one thing is for sure, Google are continuing the drive to strengthen the quality of search results and eradicate spam. You can keep track of the updates via our algorithm history and keep up to date with all the latest advancements right here on the High Position blog!