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The recently announced Google Panda algorithm update raised eyebrows for several reasons. Of course, any Google algorithm news is worthy of attention, but this specific update was unique in several ways that had SEOs and webmasters wondering what the deal was. Finally, Google has given some insight into why Panda 4.2 is so different from past algorithm updates.

There’s still not much information about why there was such a long lull between algorithm updates – over 10 months – but, Google’s John Mueller did recently provide some answers as to why the algorithm update is rolling out significantly slower than normal.

In a Google Hangout session between Mueller and webmasters, John explained the rollout is taking several months instead of the usual few days or weeks due to “technical reasons.” He also explicitly said the long rollout isn’t specifically intend to “confuse people” as some have suggested.

Both the SEM Post and Search Engine Roundtable transcribed Mueller’s comments on Panda:

This [Panda rollout] is actually pretty much a similar update to before. For technical reasons we are rolling it out a bit slower. It is not that we are trying to confuse people with this. It is really just for technical reasons.

So, it is not that we are crawling slowly. We are crawling and indexing normal, and we are using that content as well to recognize higher quality and lower quality sites. But we are rolling out this information in a little bit more slower way. Mostly for technical reasons.

It is not like we are making this process slower by design, it is really an internal issue on our side.

Webmasters have expressed frustration with the long rollout because it is taking much longer than normal to see results from the algorithm, and Mueller’s comments only provide a small window into how the algorithm is functioning.

Here is the video, from the start of the conversation:

 Panda

Google has confirmed it has released a Google Panda refresh over the weekend, over 10 months after the last update to the algorithm.

The latest refresh is unique from past updates as it went virtually unnoticed by webmasters until it was announced by Barry Schwartz. This is because it is being rolled out far slower than in the past. Previous updates were rolled out usually over a period of a few days or at most a couple weeks, but Google says this latest update could potentially take months to fully roll out, even on a site-by-site basis. However, as it is a site-wide algorithm, it will not be on a page-by-page basis.

Google was not willing to provide any information about why the rollout is being done so slowly.

Unfortunately, the slow rollout does not mean you can expect to make any last minute changes to save your site. It is too late to change your fate with Panda 4.2, although it’s always good to make any improvements you know are needed.

Schwartz also noted his personal SEO news site, which was penalized by Panda 4.1, does show an increase in organic traffic since the update. That means others who were hit by the last update may see small improvements as well.

The Panda refresh is expected to impact approximately 2-3% of queries, meaning it is a relatively small update.

While the refresh may be good news to webmasters who were impacted by 4.1, most people are less pleased – particularly by the slow rollout.

It may be months before we know the impact of the refresh thanks to the slow implementation, but, considering there hasn’t been an update since October of last year, it was past time for it to happen.

Panda

Webmasters using “thin” or poor quality content may have seen a drop in traffic this week, as Google has announced that the release of the latest version of its Panda Update.

According to a post on Google+, the “slow rollout” began early this week and will continue into next week before being complete.

While those trying to do the bare minimum to improve rankings may have reason for concern, the new update could also be a relief to many who say they were improperly affected by previous updates as this update is intended to be more precise. As the announcement says:

Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.

Those who were affected by previous updates may also welcome the latest release, as it means anyone who has made the right changes since the last update finally have a chance to bounce back.