Google rolls out two major algorithm updates

Updates confirmed

Google has confirmed that it is rolling out two algorithm updates which could impact search results.

Both updates were confirmed by head of webspam Matt Cutts on Twitter yesterday afternoon. First came Payday Loan 2.0 "this past weekend", an update designed to target very spammy queries.

Then came Panda 4.0, which Cutts confirmed was rolling out "today". However, in March 2013 a Google spokesperson stated:

"I don't expect us to tweet about or confirm current or future Panda updates because they'll be incorporated into our indexing process and thus be more gradual."

This may suggest that Panda 4.0 is a bigger update than the previous ones, likely to impact a larger number of queries and sites. A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land it will affect 7.5 per cent of English queries - the original release affected almost 12 per cent.

Expect fluctuations

Many webmasters and SEOs noticed some fluctuations in search results over the weekend, prompting rumours of a big update. Meanwhile MozCast - which measures 'algorithm turbulence' - showed increased fluctuations over the weekend with a spike on Monday. However, with Panda 4.0 only rolling out yesterday, more extensive changes could be yet to come.

Webmasters can therefore expect some fluctuations in their rankings, and potentially in their traffic, over the next week or more. As with any algorithm update, it will take a while for the dust to settle and for the impact to be truly seen and analysed.

A history of change

The original Payday Loan algorithm update was released in June 2013, and aimed to drill down to tackle specific queries that were prone to spammy practices - such as pornographic queries and payday lenders.

Meanwhile the Panda update originally hit the SERPs in February 2011, designed to weed out shallow, low quality content and prevent it from ranking highly. Panda 2.0 was announced in April 2011, while 3.0 was not officially announced but is believed to have taken place in November 2011.

Adrian Mursec, head of development at theEword, commented: "Every now and again Google, and in particular Matt Cutts, will remind us that the search engine is constantly striving for quality and fighting spam. It certainly keeps the industry on its toes, and is a reminder time and time again that futureproof SEO is all about user experience and genuine high quality content."