The latest news on the SEO grapevine is that Panda 4.2 is still rolling out, over two months after it was announced by Google. This has to be one of the longest roll outs of any search engine update and begs the question, why is it taking so long?
In July, Google started updating its search algorithm with Panda 4.2. They announced that it would be a slow roll-out and suggested that it would be months, and not weeks, until it is fully rolled out. So, the news that it is not fully rolled out yet may seem a bit like a “light bulb still on” news report. However, some SEOs are concerned, because it seems that there may have been a reversal, which means those who saw gains in July 2015 have since experienced new drops.
In early August, Google explained that they were rolling Panda 4.2 out slowly for technical reasons, which Barry Schwartz explained here (Barry has been reporting on Panda 4.2 heavily since its launch; you can learn every about it on his blog).
Google told Barry that they intend Panda to be a more continuous update rather than the sporadic updates seen in the past. This suggests that Google may be making very small incremental changes and then analysing the results, rather than making one huge update that results in a major shake-up of the search results.
In mid-August, Barry Schwartz, along with other SEOs, suggested that Google had reversed the original Panda 4.2 update. Last week, Barry Schwartz followed this up with the news that Google has not responded to his questions about the current state of Panda 4.2, but Google’s Gary Illyes has later said that Panda 4.2 is not finished yet.
The general consensus now is that Panda 4.2 may take up to six months to fully roll out. It may be that Google is actually constantly tweaking Panda 4.2 to get the best results possible. These long and complex updates make the work of freelance SEO consultants more difficult all the time. However, by carefully reading the latest guidelines, strategies can be monitored to ensure good results.
The biggest criticism of Google in the past has been that the search algorithm still fails to spot spammy content. Our suspicion is that with Panda 4.2, Google is comparing the results in search with subjective data gathered by its search testers. Google may have an idea of what it would consider the best results to be for a series of major search terms, and it is tweaking Panda 4.2 to see if they can make the search engine match human expectation for quality.
Panda is designed to promote the highest quality pages and websites by penalising sites that exhibit low quality content. Panda 4.2 may be the first step in promoting high quality websites. If this is the case, it will literally turn SEO on its head over the next year.
Back in July people started talking about how to recover from Panda 4.2, and although the search landscape continues to change, those tips still hold true. Panda still looks at the overall quality of a website, and because of this, it is always possible to make positive changes to eradicate problem areas.