Ralf Schulz
By Ralf Schulz | Uncategorized | July 9, 2014

Panda 4.0 & Payday Loan 2.0: What You Need to Know

How will Google’s algorithm change affect me? How can I prevent negative site performance? These are two very common questions for business owners that rely on their websites. Every few months Google releases updates to improve its algorithm and create a smoother, friendlier experience for its users. A few times a year these updates affect a large amount of traffic (August 2013’s Hummingbird update affected 90% of search queries, more than any other update since Caffeine). Although these two updates (Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0) do have an impact, the effect is much smaller and more direct. On May 16th 2014, Google released an update called Payday Loan 2.0, which was then followed by Panda 4.0 just 3 days later. I’m writing today to share what important changes have been made.

Payday Loan 2.0

This update directly affects any “very spammy queries” and is an entirely independent update – there is no relation to the Panda or Penguin updates. In June 2013 the original Payday Loan was released, creating a minor impact on U.S. queries (about 0.3%). Although the U.S. market wasn’t hit very hard, Matt Cutt’s reported that Turkish queries (with the most impact) had been effected by about 4%.

For the 2014 update, Search Engine Land claims that Google told them that the update was international and that queries would be affected differently depending on language. At that time, it was announced that English queries would only see an impact of 0.2%. Don’t get me wrong: the Payday Loan 2.0 update did hit hard, but the audience was very narrow.

We still have a lot to learn about Payday Loan 2.0, but it can be said that unless you have a “very spammy” website or relevant spammy queries, this probably hasn’t impacted your site. With that in mind, let’s move to the additional changes to Panda 4.0.

Panda 4.0

The Panda update was originally introduced in February 2011 and was created to stop low quality content from making its way to the first page of Google’s results. Panda has seen 25 updates since the original release, with the latest edition of Panda being Panda 4.0. This update had an impact on English queries of roughly 7.5%.

It’s difficult to say exactly how Panda 4.0 is reading content differently from previous updates to assure that users get the most relevant information. Currently, we do know that eBay was drastically affected after the update was released- it even caused them to drop out of the “Big 10” (Moz.com’s metric of the ten domains with the most first-page “real estate”). This primarily affected eBay’s category pages, but there is still speculation about whether the impact has a direct correlation to Panda 4.0 or if it was a manual penalty implemented by Google.

Google’s pattern of updates does suggest that Panda 4.0 is a major one, including an algorithm change and also a data refresh. Although, we’re not sure if eBay was directly hit, we’ll have to continue to study how this update impacts sites differently.

Let us know if the comments if you’ve seen any change to your analytic or website traffic since the updates in late May. Thanks for reading and happy optimizing.

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