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Panda Update 4.0: Winners and Losers – Google USA

A new Panda update has been rolled out by Google, and it’s important to everybody in SEO. So we’ve carried out an immediate analysis, and here are the results.

Update: In order to get this analysis to you as quickly as possible, the data we used was independent of the Suite Software. However, it is included now in the Searchmetrics Suite Research Area, and the data is viewable in the client project area as usual, depending upon your individual update cycles.

Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Webspam, announced the release of the Panda 4.0 update via his Twitter feed yesterday. Initially called “Farmer Update”, it was rolled out in the US in February 2011 and globally in August of the same year. The update aims to push pages with poor content and spam from the search results.

This fourth generation of Panda started rolling out yesterday and are projecting that it will impact 7.5% of (english) search queries. Other languages may well be affected in differing proportions. As it revealed itself in the SERPs, we decided to take a look at it:

Payday Loans 2.0 for “very spammy queries”

At the same time as Panda 4.0, or even a little earlier (last weekend), “Payday – Loans 2.0″ was rolled out. This update is more link-based and focuses on keywords with high search volumes and CPC in which the potential proportion of spam in the SERPs is likely to be very high.

According to Matt Cutts, the proportion of affected searches in the United States was only about 0.3%, so let’s concentrate on Panda here.

Panda 4.0 – A ‘Delicate’


After many smaller, almost monthly “refreshes”, the fourth Panda update seems to be a major one. However, according to the rumor mill, this update is more “soft and gentle” than previous ones, and will supposedly serve as a basis for future adjustments to the algorithm.

However, as Matt Cutts announced at last year’s Pubcon in Las Vegas, Google’s future Panda is supposed to be “baked” into the algorithm, it’s surprising that this update comes as a new version when we were not expecting Google to roll it out with such a public announcement.

Preliminary analysis – Foundation: SEO Visibility – delta value

The following data is based on the organic SEO Visibility for each domain for all researched keywords, compared to our last data point. The actual traffic by each domain – for example brand and/or direct traffic etc. – can vary with values given here.

Since there seems to be another reason for SEO Visibility loss of some domains, next to the Panda update (more on this below), and also some exceptions that I would not call Panda losers, I will call this a preliminary analysis. We will update this article as soon as we had a deeper look into the data, but I wanted to give you some insights right away. So lets start with a provisional lists – please interpret with caution:

Google SERPs: Panda 4.0 Losers

The lists are ordered by absolute loss / gain, which is shown in the respective column as rounded percentage. Basis of the analysis are domains that at least had a value of 10000 SEO Visibility before Panda 4.0 and that show now a change of at least +/-20 %.

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