Google confirms Panda update

Google has confirmed the latest update to its Panda algorithm was rolled out last week.

Webmaster Trends Analyst Pierre Far revealed the news on Google+, saying that user and webmaster feedback had been analysed to help the search engine gather even more ways of identifying low quality content.

He said: "This results in a greater diversity of high quality, small and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice."

Far added that, depending on a user's location, the latest changes to Panda would affect between three and five per cent of queries, and that the changes will be completed this week.

This could potentially be good for businesses that are worried about how they will compete with the bigger names in their industry, as it seems Google wants to give these sites every chance to rank well.

It is also welcome news for sites that were hit by the last Panda update back in May, as any work they have done to correct these issues could be rewarded at this stage.

Of course, every Panda update leads to some sites seeing their rankings take a tumble. For them, this change will signal the need to fully review their site to find out where they are going wrong and address any areas of weakness.

Major or minor update?

While May's Panda update was widely accepted as a big change (it reportedly affected around 7.5% of queries), this latest version is not thought to be as significant an alteration.

Analysts are also suggesting it could mark the start of a new 'quarterly' update schedule for Panda, a switch from the monthly updates of 2012 and the comparatively few changes confirmed on 2013.

Google did say last year that it would most likely not confirm future Panda updates, but that plan has now fallen by the wayside twice this year.

If this is indeed a sign of quarterly Panda updates, then we can expect the next round of changes in the new year. For those sites hit by this latest version, that could spark a busy end to 2014.