This is a new Panda algorithm, not a refresh that we've seen almost monthly but enough for Google to name this 4.0, which means a new algorithm update to it.
Google's Matt Cutts told us at Search Engine Land that this Panda 4.0 update impacts ~7.5% of English queries to a degree that a regular user might notice.
Also when I spoke to Matt Cutts, he made it sound like this update may appear gentler for some sites but it does lay the groundwork to future changes in the direction of a softer and gentler Panda algorithm.
This began rolling out yesterday and is unrelated to the Google Spam Algorithm 2.0 released over the weekend and unrelated to anything Penguin.
So no, I was not crazy expecting something big that happened over the weekend and throughout the month and this week. Even though Google said nothing is going on, we've been seeing signs of major changes and ranking shifts all throughout the month. I suspect those were tests for both this Google Spam Algorithm version 2.0 and the Panda 4.0 release.
Here is some of the history on the Panda update, but to dig deeper, see our Panda category.
Google stopped confirming Panda updates last year and then started doing rolling updates but that doesn't mean they haven't done work on fine tuning the algo. They softened it recently and there have been refreshes monthly, some larger than others but it is hard to know if it was Panda or something else.
Over the next few days, we are going to need to look at our analytics and isolate if we were impacted by one of these algorithms. I'll ask you to fill out a poll in the near future and share those results.
Image credit to BigStockPhoto for pandas
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