Panda 4.1 impacts organic traffic from Google

Here is a screenshot of my Google Webmaster Tools search statistics for the past 3 months (sorry for the Dutch dates and text):

panda41

It seems that LeaseWeb Labs was affected by an update of Google’s ranking algorithm named “Panda”. Every now and then Google adjusts the ranking of websites to avoid search engine spam.

Google launched Panda 4.1 on September 25, 2014 and told us it would be a “slow rollout” that would go into the following week. No one really expected the rollout to continue into this week but it has and the fluctuations and ranking changes you are seeing are likely related to that. – searchengineland.com

As you can see in the above graph we have lost 10-20% of our search traffic from Google. We believe that update 27 (version 4.1) of the Panda ranking algorithm is to blame. Although Google may be optimizing their algorithm continuously, updates with high impact do not occur often. It is believed that on Friday 8 August 2011 7% of the queries were affected by an update. Until the May update this year there was never such a big impact of any update. In September we have seen another update and although the impact is said to be smaller, it seems bigger on our site. Below an overview of this years algorithm updates (source):

Update   Name        Date         Queries affected
26       Panda 4.0   2014-05-20   8%
27       Panda 4.1   2014-09-25   4%

So it this really bad? No, not at all! Google needs to fight search engine spam and every honest site benefits from that, so this is also good for us. And we are not completely dependent on Google search traffic. It is estimated that about 40-50% of the total visitors of this site come from Google. So this small loss of organic traffic is hardly visible in our total traffic graph (from the “Count-Per-Day” WordPress plugin) as you can see below:

panda41_2

Did we learn any lesson from this? No, not really. We will just continue to make good (unique) content and trust that Google will keep rewarding us with lots of visitors.

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