Panda 3.3 and other search updates

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We’ve been monitoring the fluctuations in Google rankings over the last week and a half and wanted to send out an update to our clients and partners to let them know what’s going on.

What Is “Panda”?

Panda is software used by Google to help filter out content that may lack significant substance. It is called the Panda “update” because the filter only runs periodically. Each time it runs, all content Google knows about is resifted. Improved content escapes the filter; poor content gets caught again.

Benefits to the Panda Update

The Panda Update helps to improve the user experience by displaying content in the search results that is most relevant to each search made by the user. This gives the user exactly what they are looking for on their first search.

What changes have been made to search and what is included in Panda 3.3?

You can read the full official release from Google here. Here are a few highlights from Google’s blog post:

  • Panda update: This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.
  • Link evaluation: We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean, and understandable.
  • Improvements to ranking for local search results: [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.
  • Improved local results: We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.
  • Data refresh for related searches signal: [launch codename “Chicago,” project codename “Related Search”] One of the many signals we look at to generate the “Searches related to” section is the queries users type in succession. If users very often search for [apple] right after [banana], that’s a sign the two might be related. This update refreshes the model we use to generate these refinements, leading to more relevant queries to try.
  • Improvements to freshness: [launch codename “iotfreshweb,” project codename “Freshness”] We’ve applied new signals which help us surface fresh content in our results even more quickly than before.
  • Improvements to English spell correction: [launch codename “Kamehameha”] This change improves spelling correction quality in English, especially for rare queries, by making one of our scoring functions more accurate.

How will OrangeSoda clients potentially be affected?

As with all Panda Updates we will see a fluctuation in some rankings. Most of these rankings will be on a national level. We will also see some change with our local, geo-targeted campaigns as well, but according to this Panda release the positive changes should outweigh the negative when it comes to local searches.

What are we doing/will we do to mitigate and respond to the effect the update can have on our clients?

  • OrangeSoda has always used a great linking strategy that is in line with the Panda Updates.
  • Each account manager will continue to monitor their clients (especially the national campaigns) to be proactive on any negative rank changes.
  • Clients should be aware of the two things that can help their on-page SEO:
    • Correct spelling and grammar are crucial. Google is getting smarter and knows if content is quality or not.
    • Fresh content is a key ingredient to on site SEO. If the clients do not have a blog section on their website, they should create one that is kept up to date. Google loves fresh content. Websites that continue to provide solid content will not be negatively affected by these updates.
  • OrangeSoda subscribes to the theory of “Themed Keywords.” These are keywords that are very similar to each other all working in one campaign. This helps to build the authority around that specific topic and will continue to be a good strategy through future Panda Updates.




Firstly I thought that it sounds very similar to Panda 3.2, which happened in mid-January and was described only as a “data refresh” and not related to new or changed ranking signals. When I read more about it I am surprised that Google Panda 3.3 brings a lot of new and interesting changes.