Despite Google stating they would no longer confirm any of the rolling Panda updates, they seem to have gone back on that and confirmed that yes a new Panda began going live on July 18. However, unlike many of the previous Panda updates, many webmasters have noticed that it does not have as wide of an impact as previous updates.
Matt Cutts has previously stated that Panda updates would rollout over course of 10 days each month, to soften the impact that it has on webmasters when the change happens at once. However, this does make a lot more difficult for webmasters to sometimes determine what is a normal fluctuation and what is actually a new Panda rollout.
For those who actively monitor search key phrases, there is definitely a lot of fluctuation even on an hourly basis. Some sites will rank for a specific keyword phrase, vanishing hours later, and then return sometimes in relatively the same position or other times on completely different result pages.
A lot of people in their Google Webmaster Tools data have noticed that they are getting some definite increase in the number of impressions that they are displaying, but the traffic has remained stable. This is raising the question if Google Webmaster Tools is somehow measuring impressions differently or if there is something else that would account for such an increase in impressions while the click throughs are static.
Something that is noticeable is that a lot of informational sites, both large ones and small ones, are being heavily impacted with this new rollout. This includes the big names of the informational sites, such as Wikipedia, and about.com where there are definite changes happening in their rankings.
Google has previously stated that they want to give authority sites a bit more prominence in the search results. Of course, that also means that they need to update their signals in the search algorithm on how Google is determining what is authority versus what are simply spam sites mimicking the authority. This update seems to be targeting authoritative sites – and more specifically what should be considered an authority website and what shouldn’t be.
There has also been a bit of chatter that sites that have fared better in this update are active in using Google+. Some sites that saw a decline in rankings have seen them restored or increased in this new rollout when Google+ activity for the site has been done. While this does make people a bit wary that Google is rewarding sites that are on Google+, it has been no secret that it is one of the signals that many believe have has impact on the ranking algorithm.
While this latest the Google Panda update seems to be of a much softer impact than we have seen from previous updates, it is also worth noting that these rollouts generally occur over 10 days and we are only two days into that. So we definitely could see more fluctuations in search results over the next 10 days while Google watches to see how this new update is impacting the search results, particularly spam and authority sites, and then continue to rollout the update and also tweak the algorithm accordingly.