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Panda 4.1 Follow-Up: Continuous Downtrends and Delayed Losers

I have taken a look at the further development of the Winners and Losers of the Panda 4.1 Update. After all, both Google’s statements and the development of the data led to the conclusion that this is a slow, continuous rollout. That’s why we waited until we can say that the rollout is most likely to be completed. And we have in actual fact observed in many domains that this is not simply a one-time drop in SEO visibility, but in many cases an actual, continuous, step-by-step loss.

Panda downtrendBut this did not happen to all the domains. In some cases, Google has changed directions and losers of the first iteration have returned to their pre-Panda SEO Visibility values.

Are updates now continuous?

Has Google now integrated Panda into the algorithm so that we are no longer able to cleanly separate updates and their iterations from their impact, because their effect is permanent and continuous? In other words: Does Google tweak the algorithm until they are “happy” with the results? Hence these are query-based updates: do they just add new queries permanently?

There really is a lot of movement in the data. The as yet not fully tangible Penguin 3.0 Update (again, a slow rollout!) also plays a part in this, as it partially overlaps with this Panda.

However, I am also often asked how supposedly ‘bad sites’ are still able to hold their positions on the SERPs and why Google is so often simply unable to filter them out. It was at this point that I noticed something in the many examples from the loser list of Panda 4.1.

Panda losers: Out of the top rankings – out of mind?

Much too often we see only what catches our eye and forget that Google is really very effective at structuring search results by the quality of their content. And this is precisely what becomes clear when, for example, you stop concentrating on the (ever shrinking number of) pages that, in spite of their alleged lack of content, rank among the top SERPs (over the long term!), but instead take a look at the further development of the losers. Here, it is far too often a case of: Out of sight, out of mind.

Besides, Google has stressed that the update is a slow rollout over an extended period. And this is precisely what can be very well seen in the data.

These Panda 4.1 losers have continued to lose

A retrospective view on the data around Panda 4.1 has allowed a recurring phenomenon to become apparent: many sites have continuously lost SEO visibility with every new data point. So, we are not dealing with a very sudden drop followed by a plateau, but with a continuous downward trend of individual pages lasting over several weeks.







… and there are many others I could list here.

As you may notice, some domains (i.e. or have won in the course of Panda 4.0 first, but with the current iteration of Panda, they perform even worse than before.

Some initial losers are even back already

As I said, there are different characteristics in relation to the data around Panda 4.1. So there are some examples of domains that have lost SEO Visibility after Panda 4.1 first, but have now already recovered (in the course of the very same update cycle).

Domains with delayed drop

In the end, there are even examples of domains where the drop in SEO Visibility was delayed. Actually, some domains with delayed drops have been winners of Panda 4.0 back then. Now we see that this has most likely been a short time success.

Conclusion: Slow updates often cause continuous losses, as well as delayed effects

Of course, there are always exceptions, escapees, or recoveries of sites in which the relevance and quality of sites are questionable at a first (or even second) glance. Not every site from the loser list has taken this development. That is by no means what I’m trying to say and that is also why I have given some other examples.

But, from the selected examples, it is very clear to see that Google – particularly in terms of relevance and quality of content, which is ever increasingly in the spotlight – very specifically, with insistence and consequences, takes action if certain signals suggest that content is no longer of the quality that users may have expected. And this is something that Google is able to measure (for example with CTR, Bounce Rate or Time on Site).

In any case, the ‘new (user) signals’, with feedback that, according to Google, was a particular help in recognizing lesser quality content appear to have reached their goal. Long-term developments have not gone off target either.

Panda 4.1 seems to be complete for now

To come back to the original question: It seems that the current Panda update is now completely rolled out. At least the data is currently ‘settling down’. That’s why we have waited for the data to settle down.
Therefore, in conclusion, it should be said that:

  1. Panda 4.1 took around 5-6 weeks and often meant a continuous loss for many domains,
  2. the rather slow rollout process has led to the fact that some domains have recovered pretty fast after an initial drop (looks like Google has “rolled in” the Panda again in some cases) and sometimes the impact was delayed.

To sum up, the Panda 4.1 update is pretty multifaceted and not that easy to retrace. I am intrigued to see if this is the kind of update we can look forward to in the future.


Marcus Tober

Marcus Tober

My name is Marcus Tober and I’m the founder of Searchmetrics. Because we really love to analyze all kinds of online data, we can give you more insights than any other company in SEO, SEM and Social Media. It’s not a job, it’s passion.

23 thoughts on “Panda 4.1 Follow-Up: Continuous Downtrends and Delayed Losers

  • One of my blogs was hit with 4.1. I haven’t checked it back again instead I am moving the content to another blog (drip-feeding). After reading your post, I am hopeful that it might have recovered 🙂

    Will check it and see how it is going now….

    Thanks for really decent information.

  • Parampreet Chanana 2014/11/23 at 7:30 pm

    I read your article about panda “5 ways to definitely get hit by a Panda algorithm penalty”.

    Really thanks for it, It have all the points which are necessary to save site from panda, last year i got penalty from penguin on my another domain, improved and learned a lot this time and saved this from penguin this time,

    Now about Panda, you saying, its done…But seeing fluctuation, so, Still confuse…

    Do you really thing it is done? My site got positive results with it till now. Should i think,i am on the right Track? Or what?

  • Trick or treat?

    Indeed, i think that Panda is one of the easyest penaltys to recover… and also, one of the cutest algorythms; i mean, it really cleans the Google SERPs of low quality results.

    Well… of course a lot of my clients are “hunted” by panda, just because their ignorance about the correct guidelines… but in some way, as SEO Freelance thats something good to me (taking in count that with screaming frog and other tools, you can easily find the problem)

    Some tools that i use to “hunt” the panda:

    Have a nice Panda Hunting day guys!

  • i always doubt there is some problem with google panda algorithm. Some of my pages are not found in google no matter what keyword i type in and i have changed the content few times from head to toe… there might be something to do with overall algorithm or penguin in work. ?? any idea why certain page can’t get crawled.?

  • Terrific drops for Panda 4.0, i didn’t noticed that ! Thanks for pointing out

  • Kris Bournemouth 2014/12/22 at 12:38 pm

    Hi There.

    I am new to you blog. Thanks for the article about Panda 4.1, this is what i have been looking for – an explanation on how it all works.

    I reckon that as long as you do not copy from other werbsites and keep your content original you are safe and Google can not do anything against you 🙂


  • Hi,
    I have read your write-up. It says, you are safe until you don’t copy from other sites. My site’s traffic dropped after Panda 4.0 had come. I really love pandas and am a great fan of Kung Fu Panda. However, I really don’t like these Panda updates! I didn’t copy even a single post from anywhere, but it penalized me! -_-

  • What are the purpose of these algorithms, there seems to be no particular rule set, Google just decides one month to say they don’t like a blue background on the site and that’s that.

  • Hi Marcus,

    Thank you so much for this article! I think google will use this kind out roll outs more in the future, learning from past updated like the first Penguin, where they were criticized for making too big changes too fast. Gradual roll outs get a “better” result as it’s easier to make small adjustments along the way. What do you think?

    Robin Smith

  • Post Panda I definitely noticed that sites lose their rankings quickly if they are not updated often, especially in competitive niches. Where competing websites are updating weekly you need to be updating daily to compete and stay on top.

  • All I want to say that Google’s animals are killing me. They almost ate my site alive, i don’t know what to expect from the feature animals. I think that white hat still is the best way to go.

  • I read your this article on the Panda 4.1
    My site has maintained to go with the Panda algorithm.
    M bit confuse to see fluctuations, should i worry about it or leave it?

  • Hi Marcus,

    I am bit following your posts from past few days. I must thank you for the article about Panda 4.1, which really explains what exactly one needs about this algorithm.

    Keep it up

    Jannie Rolph

  • Your article is very informative. actually i am not having much knowledge about the Panda 4.1.With this article and your previous article on it such as 5 ways to get hit by panda penalty has really add very much to my knowledge.

  • Fantastic drops for Panda 4.0, i didn’t perceived that ! A debt of gratitude is in order regarding calling attention regarding important points related to Panda Update. Thanks for the share

  • Your article is quite valuable for me. I didn’t copy any data from other sites but after Panda4.1,my ranking slightly dropped and i want to know that can i copy my site description to any other sites,it will drop my ranking or not?

  • Catalin Nichita 2015/02/03 at 10:43 am

    I believe the ranking factors are correlated with the users behavior. If you read the Google search quality raters instructions you will see that the users experience is very important for their “quality signals” filter.

    The main content must be surrounded by helpful design elements: filters, related products etc., able to keep the user on the site and to decrease the bounce rate.

    The affected sites must be analyzed very well because the reason of this penalty is visible on the site: short articles, low quality ones, indexed filters, copied content, so on…

  • Toronto SEO LAB 2015/03/12 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Marcus, Yes as you said “Panda 4.1 seems to be complete for now” I think April 21 they will push another big panda update along with mobile usability update.

  • everytime when google produces its algo updates my blogs and my clients blogs traffic keeps growing on and on although i focus more over the google guidelines and also in return google give its love to my blog by allowing quality traffic to drive into my blogs

  • Your article is very informative for me. Thank you for giving detailed knowledge about panda update. I think upcoming mobile algorithm update will bring new surprises.

  • Google Panda is just a program just like Google Penguin, so there are no reasons to be afraid of

  • Thanks for sharing such a very nice information.It is very helpful for me to understand panda .

  • Panda is helping all of our strategies. It is very heplful when it comes to Google SERPSs low quality results. Anyway, it is very easy to optimize given guidelines. Best tool for Panda-hunting?

    Screaming Frog:

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