Tuesday, Google confirmed the launch of two updates, Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0. This followed a weekend of heavy speculation due to some major signals that an algorithm update was coming.
Payday Loan 2.0 began rolling out over the weekend and will target “very spammy queries” usually associated with excessive web spam. The original Payday Loan algorithm launched last June and, while it hit spammy sites hard, the overall impact was pretty moderate.
The original Panda algorithm was launched in February 2011 with the goal of helping sites with high-quality content gain higher rankings in the search results. Panda 4.0 is likely a major algorithm update rather than a huge data refresh since Panda has been refreshing monthly. By all accounts, this has been a softer update as many sites that had been hit hard by previous versions have already seen recoveries. Though Cutts implied a one-day roll-out, past Panda updates have spanned multiple days. This will become clearer over the next few days.
Since both updates occurred almost simultaneously, it could be hard for webmasters to see exactly which one might be having more of an effect on their sites. With Payday Loan targeting spammy queries and Panda impacting sites with low-quality content, it’s possible some sites could be hit by one or both of these updates.
So, what does this mean for webmasters and SEO professionals? Unfortunately, it’s probably too soon to know for sure. There have been reports of losses and gains in rankings and as these updates finish taking hold in the search engine, we could still see more changes. For now, there are two things you need to focus on for sure… 1. Make sure your site has high-quality content. 2. Avoid optimizing for any terms that would be considered “spammy queries.”