Google Panda Out With Its 4.2 Refresh Update Algorithm

Global Refresh will impact search results worldwide, not just English results

September 25th 2014 saw Panda 4.1 come to revolutionize companies’ search ranking and revenue. Ten months later, Google has now announced the soon-to-happen roll out of its global refresh update – Panda 4.2, aimed at higher quality search results with some unprecedented improvisations.

The impact on your site’s traffic may go unnoticed for a while until the complete roll-out of the update in the coming months. Sites that were hit by Panda during the earlier updates may not see an immediate full impact of the 4.2 refresh update, but will observe changes in their organic rankings gradually over time. Also, sites that were penalized by Panda earlier and have made appropriate changes will now have a chance to emerge among the quality search results as produced by Google. This implies that while the 4.2 Refresh Update is a new chance for some that have taken corrective actions on their content, it can mean a penalty for others who have not.  The Panda 4.2 rollout will significantly affect 2-3% of queries, approximately 36 million search results.

Being a global refresh update, the Panda 4.2 will have an impact on search results worldwide, and not just in English.

If your site’s Google traffic begins to plummet in the coming months, it indicates that Panda 4.2 has ranked your site negatively. Consequently, recovery will be difficult when an entire domain is affected. To retain or surpass previous rankings, it may no longer suffice to optimize the landing pages with relatively weaker content, but to instead focus on developing higher quality content across the entire domain, and waiting for the next iteration of the update.

Google’s initial intentions with Panda have stayed relatively the same – to punish content mills, keyword stuffing, ugly or broken websites, and any sort of unsavoury practices that exploit Google’s search algorithm. Accordingly, it’s critical to remember what Google certifies as “bad quality content”, and develop content that is potentially Google-friendly.

Rand Fishkin, SEO expert and co-founder of Moz suggests that content creators should focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to improving SEO rankings. He added, “The vast majority of links and shares and amplification signals of all kinds are going to only the top five or ten per cent of content that gets put out. There’s not a whole lot of value in writing a decent blog post anymore. [There’s not a lot of value] unless you can be pretty extraordinary.”

In simpler terms, your site should focus on creating well-written, original and better content with a less bloated website design.

The impact of this update will be realized slowly. While the scores are already calculated, these are site-wide scores and haven’t been fully assigned to all the pages on a specific site or the whole index yet. Some pages on a site may be assigned the score, and some may not. Therefore, the negative or positive impact of Panda 4.2 will be realized over months, and not days. Unlike the past Panda updates, this rollout will observe a more gradual increase or decrease in your Google traffic over time. This means it is even more crucial to be aware of the start of an update, in order to determine whether your site has been affected or not. This causal relation is important.

Google’s recent launches include “Mobilegeddon” which encouraged sites to be mobile-optimized and mobile-friendly to be among the top-ranked sites by Google, and “Quality Update” or “Phantom Update” which rewarded sites that featured Google-certified quality content.


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