Small businesses breathe sigh of relief at news of a softer “Panda” release in the future

Matt Cutts announces Panda “refresh” to be unveiled soon at recent SMX conference

Big Fluffy PandaGreat news if you’re a small business website owner. Since 2011, the Panda algorithm has arguably been the harshest of search engine updates from Google HQ. Initially aimed at targeting low quality sites with thin content that had gained prominent rankings in the search results through unscrupulous means, many good folk found themselves victims of the algo and saw drops that they are yet to fully recovery from.

Now a full three years since it’s initial release, Google are finally admitting that the algorithm may have been somewhat overzealous and affected those who had not deserved such harsh treatment.

In the words of Matt Cutts, Google are still in the development stages of a refresh of Panda that will be far more “kinder” and “softer”. Awwww…. some might say “too little too late”, with many sites literally disappearing overnight since it’s release however, the news comes at a time when many algorithms since have created carnage on the SERPs. Perhaps Google are rethinking their approach to tackling poor and spammy sites? We’ll see.

The big boys are still winning

Contrary to Cutts’ sentiments, most algo updates to date have favoured the bigger corporate players so any small business owner can be forgiven for treating this news with a dash of cynicism.

Panda was originally supposed to combat content farms and sites building gateway pages, yet lower authority sites with some excellent content still felt the wrath of the cuddly one and three years for some is too long to realise the damage done.

Just take product based searches as a prime example. Sites like Amazon and numerous large retailers dominated and still dominate the SERPs whilst smaller sites just can’t compete, even when offering more competitive pricing and superior customer service.

Real estate is another prime example. With the sector being flooded with high quality, local realty offices across numerous towns and cities still; the likes of the giant national chains and franchises still come top regardless. It’s a frustrating and at times, fruitless battle for the small guy.

When will the new Panda update be released?

In typical Google fashion, no official announcement has been made. However on past experience, if they’re merely mentioning it, then the likelihood is the change is well into the development phase and thus, we predict it will roll out over the course of the next few months.

So 2014 could be a better year for small businesses online after all. Hoorah!

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