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2011 Review: 12 Months of Google
Monday, December 19, 2011
Wow 2011 saw a very active Google.  From Panda Sightings to more acquisitions and SERP updates, Google.  We saw more significant Google algorithm updates in 2011 than in any other year, and while Google maintains that they have always made numerous algorithm updates, the ones made in 2011 seemed more regular and more significant.

Let's look at a monthly breakdown of some of Google's updates in 2011.  Special thanks to Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable for his excellent coverage of the Google Panda updates over the past 9-12 months.

Google 2011:  The Year of Google Panda (and Other Algorithm Updates

January 2011
  • the start of the year saw Google release what was dubbed the "Farmer Update" in an attempt to address the issue of content farms.  This algorithm update was a precursor to Google Panda which would roll out less than a month later. 
  • January 26th saw the first major algorithm update of the year from Google http://www.seroundtable.com/google-content-spam-rollout-12872.html
February 2011
  • February 1st saw confirmation of an algorithm update directed at scraped content as opposed to solely at content farms.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-scraper-algorithm-12889.html
  • February 7th - Google warns of big changes to come.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-changes-coming-12919.html
  • February 24th - Google Panda rolls out and changes Google results forever.  In fact Google suggests that as much of 12% of their search results would be impacted by this update.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-content-farm-13013.html
March 2011
  • many Webmasters and SEOs are experienced one of Google's largest algorithm updates ever.  Still being referred to as the "Farmer Update", Google hints that there are more changes to come.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-content-farm-tweak-13031.html
  • March 4th ish - The birth of Google Panda?  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-13068.html
  • March 8/9th - Google warns Webmasters to remove low value content from their sites as a first step in addressing Panda issues.  In an ongoing Google Webmaster Help thread, Googler Wysz suggests "...if you were hit, review your content and any content you think Google would classify as "low quality" get rid of by deleting it or moving it to a new domain..."  Reports continue to pour in from innocent site owners claiming they were unfairly hit by Google Panda.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-farmer-advice-13090.html.  We followed this up with a list of 7 items to address post Panda update.
  • March 11 - 40-50% of SEOs polled say that Panda has impacted sites that they work or have worked on.  Reports continue to come in suggesting that some sites have lost as much as 70-80% of their traffic.  http://www.seroundtable.com/poll-results-google-update-13102.html
  • March 21 - 28 - early reports suggest that the Panda Update was spotted in Google UK results although not confirmed by Google as this point.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-status-13181.html.  Still massive complaints about the "negative impact" from Panda and no stories about many sites recovering.  Questions continue to mount wondering if we are better off with the Panda Update?
April 2011
  • April 11th. Google announces that the Panda Update has been rolled out worldwide.  Many Webmasters claim devastating results are challenging their businesses.  Google goes on to state that "The impact of these new signals is smaller in scope than the original change: about 2% of U.S. queries are affected by a reasonable amount, compared with almost 12% of U.S. queries for the original change."  People are still questioning whether or not Google's results have improved.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-worldwide-13259.html
  • April 14th - some Webmasters (very few mind you) are stating that they have finally seen some improved results since the original launch of Panda.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-improvements-13271.html
May 2011
  • May 6th - Google attempts to offer some advice for sites hit by Panda with a definite focus on improving the quality of content. 
  • May 9th - reports suggest that Google Panda 3.0 is underway, this update is later confirmed as Google Panda rollout 2.1.
  • A site known as Pandalized http://pandalized.com/ is launched with examples of sites that have been negatively impacted by the Panda Updates.
June 2011
  • June 7th Google Panda 2.2 takes place http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-22-13532.html still 85% of sites polled say that have not recupurated from the original Panda launch.    Google's Matt Cutts confirms that another Panda Update has been approved but not yet rolled out.
  • June 16th ish - Google Panda 2.2 is officially launched.  Still very little feedback from sites that have recovered from the original launch in February.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-22-hits-13586.html
July 2011
  • July 12 - ex-Googler Vanessa Fox shares some of her additional thoughts on Google Panda in an interview with Eric Enge.  Fox states that "Panda is updated on a periodic basis, as opposed to in real time. This is similar to updates to the PageRank displayed on the Google Toolbar, except it is a whole lot more important!"  Shes goes on to say "It’s important to look and see what other sites are ranking for. What are you offering that is better than other sites? If you don’t have anything new or valuable to say then take a look at your current content game plan."
  • July 14 - reports begin to surface that some sites have seen a Panda recovery by using subdomains to remove low quality content from the main site. 
  • July 22 - Google 2.3 confirmed by Google http://www.seroundtable.com/panda-23-13766.html.  some webmasters begin claiming some recoveries after this rollout of Panda.
August 2011
  • August 12 sees Google confirm the roll out of Google Panda 2.4 signifying the roll out in different languages.

September 2011
  • September 28 - Google Panda 2.5 is launched
  • September 29 - Search Engine Roundtable releases a poll of the types of sites most impacted by Panda.
October 2011
  • October 5 - Google's Matt Cutts reports to expect a "weather change" with tweaks to Google Panda in upcoming weeks.  Google 2.5.2 is released on October 13th
  • October 18th - more complaints about Google's latest Panda update.  Perception arises that Google downplayed this most recent update.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-252-level-14182.html
  • October 19/20th another minor Panda Update?
November 2011
  • November 1 - Google hints/confirms that recent Panda Updates incorporate Google Vince algorithm (brand bias) changes.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-vince-2-14233.html
  • November 4th - Google Freshness algorithm update is announced.  Separate from Panda.
  • November 18 - another minor Panda Update, later confirmed by Google.
  • November 21 - another refresh Google Panda Update said to have impacted less than 1% of results.
December 2011
  • December 6 - a Webmaster World thread explains how one site appeared to have recovered from Google Panda by simply shifting their content.
  • December 14 - Google tweeted that there would be no more Panda updates until after the holidays with the last official update occurring on November 18th.  Could that mean that the next update. post holidays will be a major one?  I have a feeling that it might be significant.

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