Google has been rolling out Panda updates on a monthly basis. And when a new update arrives, many webmasters who had been hit by a previous update may start seeing a recovery.

Google’s Panda update punishes sites that do not publish original or useful content. If your site has duplicate or stolen content, you have probably already been hit by a Panda update. In this case, a recovery wouldn’t be possible without removing the bad content from the site. Even if your site publishes original content, you can get hit by Panda if others duplicate your content and apply authorship for it. In that case, Google will assume that you duplicated their content. This is a big issue and Google does not have a foolproof mechanism to figure out who authored the content.

Google launched a major Panda update in May, and then in July they launched another not-so-minor update. Google said that the new update was more finely targeted.

Google has long stopped confirming Panda updates, but the fact that they confirmed this update seems to suggest that it was a major update. We have so far seen 26 or more Panda updates. Google rolls out the update slowly over a period of ten days or more. They might start launching the update on the 4th or 5th of the month. As data centers around the world push out the update, webmasters will start noticing the impact. While some will see an improvement in their rankings, others will see a drop. Google will repeat the same process the next month.

Matt Cutts has been talking about softening the negative impact of Panda for sites that fall within the ‘gray area’ of being affected by Panda. These are sites that have some content issues, but they are not exactly bad. He said that they are adding extra signals to the algorithm to specifically look for signs of quality that may reduce the effect of the Panda. But there is a caveat. These extra signals will only reduce the impact to a certain degree – but to what degree? Google hasn’t explained that. Will these sites actually see an improvement in rankings after Google softens the algorithm? It is not clear whether the softening will have an impact on sites that have already been hit by a Panda update. Let’s wait and watch.