January 2013 might be remembered as one of the weirdest months for Google updates, maybe ever. With only one official update, the past few weeks were filled enough speculation and intrigue to last all year.
On January 22, Google announced Panda 24, their first, and so far only, algorithm update of the year. This latest Panda refresh comes just a month shy of the big, bad, bear’s second birthday.
According to the official Tweet from Google, Panda 24 impacted around 1.2% of English language queries. That’s about average for a Panda update and, as always, we wonder who are these webmaster who are still feeling the Panda Punch?
As is often the case, SEO forums were buzzing were buzzing about another update that was believed to have been rolled out on January 17, well ahead of Panda 24. The buzz started forum posters began reporting big pagerank drops, and gains; that’s business as usually in the forums.
What made this update so unusual was that, two weeks later, a number of webmasters who’d seen traffic drop from the phantom update, saw all that traffic return.
It’s not unusual for Google to trot out a small test update ahead of larger updates; and make the fixes later, but this was something else entirely. A number of webmasters wondered if the January 17 update been rolled back?
If this was the case it would be, as far as anyone can tell, the first time Google had rolled back an algorithm update.
Google, of course, keeps a very tight lid on algorithm updates, so there’s really no way of knowing exactly what happened.
One blogger speculated that the phantom algo update was somehow linked to Google’s recent announcements about the Disavow Links Tool.
As we reported earlier this week, Matt Cutts seems to have changed his tune on Disavow Links. Cutts has really been pushing the tool he once described as a, “last resort,” for link removal. However, in a recent video, he described it as something else entirely.
Whether the two are really linked is entirely speculative and, because Google is Google, we’ll probably never know the full story.
Were you impacted by Google’s January update/updates? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.