More Updates and Resulting Speculations on the Panda 4.2 Rollout
The reason my previous article on Panda 4.2 rollout was thin in details is not enough information was there to cover when I wrote it. I thought, within next two months, we’ll lay our hands on plenty of information on Panda 4.2.
But it seems I was wrong.
It’s been one and a half months since I posted that article, and we are still having a hard time demystifying Panda 4.2.
The reverse effect
The latest Panda update is not behaving like the previous updates. Google started the rollout on July 18 of this year, and site admins have begun to see changes in ranking nearly a month from then. The changes have been for worse.
Here’s what one webmaster posted in a forum:
The screenshot above shows a sudden drop in ranking. Note, the organic traffic fluctuated all through the month of August and accentuated suddenly towards the end, only to fall drastically in the ensuing month. The poster is not alone as there are many others, who have experienced an unexpected drop in ranking.
This is disappointing. The webmasters have only started to receive the positive impacts of 4.2. For some unexplained reason, it has suddenly disappeared into thin air. One web admin vented out his frustration by stating:
“Well, for me seems that this week marked a Panda reverse. It was the first time in the last two years with good signs from Panda, but the miracle lasted only two weeks.
All the spammers from my vertical are UP and happy again!”
The last sentecne resonates with what I stated in my previous article that spammers and black hat marketers are in a celebration mood. Such erratic behavior surprises me and tons of other marketers because we never saw a rollout behaving in such a whimsical manner.
Is it a bug?
I understand it's difficult for Google to admit that some buggy algorithms are at work. But it appears so. A commenter in a forum has reminded us of Google's admittance that the falling of indexing status is a bug.
Traffic and SERP have so far been immuned from bugs, but not anymore as it seems. I can help you with some information on the bug. A site admin has recently shared his problem on StackExchange. He's been witnessing a sharp decline in the number of indexed pages and organic traffic from search clicks.
He's been fixing all the issues as soon as Webmaster Tools are informing him about them. But his Webmaster account is showing the submission of 0 sitemaps. On July 17, Barry Schwartz asked Google's Gary Illyes on Twitter, whether it's a bug that's preventing submitted sitemaps from being counted. Illyes confirmed and said they are working on it.
Still a test run
The recent update by Schwartz gives us a definitive timeline of Panda 4.2. The update began approximately 2½ months ago, and will continue for some time now.
A reply from Google confirming Panda 4.2 insisted webmasters to anticipate the ranking being unstable is not due to any bug, but a part of Google's long-term ranking strategy.
This explains the increase in ranking for sites that are not worthy enough. Google may have been increasing the ranking only to estimate the responses from those sites, and if responses received don't appear satisfactory, they may get hit.
An example can articulate this better; there's a site that's thin in organic content, but have sponsored content and too many ads on it. Panda 4.2 offers this site a high rank, the site owner would interpret it as a sign that Google encourages him to continue to keep his site the way he's keeping it now. He'd soon realize he's wrong after getting hit by Panda 4.2 big time.
The grey area
As for site admins, who never try their hands with anything illicit but are still seeing their search engine ranking declining, it's high time to move beyond what we ordinarily consider as parameters for better or worse search engine ranking.
It's time to consider the SEO-friendliness of some apparently innocuous practices such as pagination, infinite scrolling, autoplay media elements, etc. The infinite scroll feature, for example, may be user-friendly but may not be crawler-friendly. The autoplay media elments, on the other hand, is now an outdated practice. A webmaster needs to validate his parameters to rank high.
Patience is key
You need to be patient. If your site has been lately been ranking low, then you have reasons to become impatient. But it won't help. So, figure out if the site has technical glitches, and if they coincide with the Panda 4.2 rollout.