It seems that Google is working on a softer Panda update that might benefit small websites. The search giant rolled out its first Panda update in February 2011. Its implications were serious and many sites that used to enjoy good rankings lost up to 80 percent of their search traffic to Panda.

Of course, they were replaced by other sites. While some of the newer entrants on the SERPs certainly deserved to be there, Panda had unintentionally hit several authoritative sites as well. Google knew Panda wasn’t perfect and they have been tweaking the algorithm since then. The company is now rolling out a fresh Panda update almost every month. But none of them are major ones.

Panda targets sites with poor and/or duplicate content. With this update, Google is trying to reward sites that publish original content. There is one problem though. Google still can’t really distinguish between original and duplicated content. Recently, the search giant has put a lot of emphasis on authorship and authority. Authorship allows authors to claim right to their content. While authorship can help Google to distinguish original content from scraped content, it is not a flawless concept. Many authors are yet to apply authorship to their content. Several others who have done that are not the real authors. This creates a lot of problems for Google as well as the webmasters.

Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts said that the softer Panda update would help small sites and businesses improve their search rankings. Cutts didn’t say when the softer Panda would arrive. He only said that they were working on it.

Algorithmic updates are different from manual penalties. If your site has been hit by an algorithmic update like Panda or Penguin, you won’t see any recovery until Google refreshes the algorithm. This is unlikely to be the first softer Panda update. Several SEO experts believe that a softer Panda version was launched in July 2013.

Panda update targets sites that publish low quality content. While the intention behind this update has been good, it is hard to believe that it was implemented correctly. Many authoritative sites lost their rankings because of Panda updates, however, some of them recovered when subsequent updates were released.