The latest Google Panda update rolled out recently, and it is having a massive impact on the rankings of a huge number of websites. The update is technically more of a refresh than a full change of the algorithm, and it marks the 29th update to the Panda algorithm, however it is the first update since September 2014 that has had a significant impact on the rankings of a large number of websites. The impact of Google’s updates is usually measured by considering the relative changes in ranking, and the keywords each site ranks for, compared to the changes in the last update. During Google’s last update, Hallmark went from ranking for 29,000 keywords to ranking for just 17,000 keywords. This change hit them before Google officially rolled out the update to a wider audience, prompting speculation that the search engine was testing the algorithm refresh on a small number of sites. Not all analysts agree with that speculation, however. While there have been many examples of websites with multiple ranked pages losing a significant number of those rankings, and Google failing to reindex pages after a link building campaign, the movement has generally been slow, and focused on newer sites.
The Google Dance
Every time there is a Google update, there is an associated shuffle of website rankings, known as the Google Dance. In this case, the dance appears to be hitting some websites very hard, and the impact on smaller, newer websites is limited, which suggests that there are two things going on, and that the update was not rolled out early. Google has released several algorithms over the last few years with the goal of improving the quality of search results on both a local and international level. The Panda, Penguin and Pigeon updates are the most frequently referenced, although the Hummingbird update, which served more as a rewrite of the search engine from the ground up, is perhaps the most impactful in terms of the number of sites affected. If you are interested in improving the rankings of your website then you should seriously consider having a full SEO audit done a couple of times per year. This will help you to get an understanding of where your site stands in the SERPs and alert you to issues when they occur, so you can fix them before your competitors get too much of an advantage.