Earlier this week, Google decided to mix up their search and release a major update to the Panda search algorithm. There have been numerous Panda updates since its release that made some minor changes and impacted some sites, but this is a major change to the algorithm that has had an immediate and harsh affect on some very large companies.

If you want to see ground zero for this announcement, you can check out the Twitter account of the (in)famous Matt Cutts. In normal online marketing fashion, most of the SEO and web design world has begun to freak out about this change. Here are some of the breaking news articles that were released shortly thereafter:


And the list goes on. More interesting than the actual update, is the huge impact it is having on some very well known websites. Here is an article that outlines the websites that have been impacted the most positively or negatively by the algorithm update. The list is large, but here are some of the highlights:

Ebay has lost 33% of its traffic as a result of the update

Ask.com has lost 50% of traffic

The company information site, Glassdoor has had its visits double since the update

Discount site CouponCabin has had traffic increase by 250%, while rival deal site RetailMeNot has seen traffic fall by 33%

The dust is still settling from this change, so there are surely many more sites that have benefited and been potentially ruined by this updated. It is surprising that auction giant Ebay was just one of many well known sites seen as “spammy” by this update.

What does it mean for you?

As is the case with many of these updates, the rich will get richer, the spam artists will have to find a new gimmick, and there will be collateral damage to a number of sites that did not deserve to lose their rankings. The key to finding out how it will affect you and your business is to find out which of these you are, and how to shift gears if you are in a bad position.

  • The rich get richer: If you have been doing everything right so far and you have maintained or increased your rankings, then you should simply maintain course. Anyone who has managed to stay in Google’s good graces through the last year of SEO changes with Hummingbird, the anti-guest blog stance, and now the Panda 4.0 update, should be proud. However, it is important to continue along the straight and narrow course if you want continued success.
  • Spammers: This algorithm update is primarily geared towards pushing spammy or low quality content down the rankings or off the search index altogether. It seems like this change will be much harder for Black Hat SEOs to recover from since it is not your run of the mill update that makes one tactic less useful. This is a concentrated  effort by Google to punish any site that has been participating in spammy practices.
  • Collateral Damage: Unfortunately there will be a number of innocent sites hurt by this update. They may have been playing by the rules, but for whatever reason they have dropped in the search results. If this is your website, it is imperative that you launch a campaign to get your website recognized as a reliable source in your industry so you can begin to recover. Look in to expanding your social presence, using structured data on your website, and tightening up your link structure just to get started.