Google releases Panda 4.0 algo update – Ebay and Cheap Flights both drop

23 May 2014

Hold onto your hats everyone, Google has announced a large update to the Panda algorithm. Yes, yes we know, there have been multiple Panda updates, with every SEO magazine or company mentioning it since the first release in February 2011 - but this one seems to be bigger - so much so that Google has named it Panda 4.0. (catchy).


The Panda algorithm is aimed at weeding out "lower quality" search results, those with lower quality content, snippets and therefore being found through other means (such as previous strong links or legacy). So sites with low level content, seeing consistently strong positions overtime may have to now reappraise their content strategies.

Who will be affected by Panda 4.0 update?

Google has told Search Engine Land that “Panda 4.0 affects different languages to different degrees.” and that “in English for example, the impact is up to 7.5% of queries that are affected to a degree that a regular user might notice.”

Ebay, Money and Cheap Flights - hit by Panda?

We have seen in our own tools on Pi Datametrics that and has lost a lot of positions across the board since last saturday. The auction site's pages could fit into the Panda update's targets in that they have low quality snippet type content and have prospered up until now on association with a a large powerful homepage. Some sites are reporting that Ebay has lost 80% of its organic rankings.

Will Amazon be next?

Cheap Flights slowly drops in Google UK

Cheap Flights has also been affected. It's easy to see with these guys as their search positions have been constantly excellent for years - delivering consistent page one positions for 1000s of searches.

Below is visibility index for 1000s of flight searches in Google UK. We give a site a visibility score of 100 for position 1 with a sliding scale from then onwards. As you will see as of a few days ago Cheap Flights, who are one of the most visible providers in the travel sector, have taken a tumble across all these search term groups including flight terms.

Unlike other SEO platforms Pi Datametrics looks at industry relevant search terms giving a better understanding of the most important search terms.

Chart 1: Visibility Index - worldwide flights - multiple search term groups -

cheapflights search term flights panda algorithm update

Is this a Panda impact on Cheapflights? (click to enlarge)


The above chart takes into account searches across many destinations. The Search Term Groups include flights to cities and countries in Europe, USA, Australia, Africa, Asia and eastern Europe. A score of 90 represents approx posiion 3 or 4. Whereas the new scores represent an average of Page 2 positions.

When taking a closer look at individual positions CheapFlights as sunk from a strong position one position to positions two. See Position Explorer chart below.

Chart 2: individual flight search term positions and movements - Google UK -

Click to Enlarge

Individual search term movement pre and post panda - Click to Enlarge

And having a look at the individual movement across of the search terms involved we can take a look at the Position Explorer chart which shows this drop occured at the beginning of this week when Matt Cutts suggested that Panda 4.0 was to be released.

Chart 3: Position Explorer Chart - selected search terms - Google UK -

Cheap flights hit by Panda 4.0? Click to Enlarge

Cheap flights hit by Panda 4.0? Click to Enlarge

We'll be seeing if Cheapflights go down any further over the coming days. I will edit the charts if and when that happens.

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