Google has confirmed a new Panda update as of 6 November, and also provided some information into how the regular search engine user might be affected.

The latest Google Panda update is the 21st confirmed in total, and maintains the estimated 4-6 week release schedule from one update to the next, since the first update was released on 24 February 2011.

Panda updates can be the stuff of nightmares to the SEO. It is a filter designed to keep sites with poor quality content from weeding their way into the top Google search results. If sites which have been hit before have made the changes necessary to improve their content, they can avoid further punishment. Alternatively, sites that have not been hit previously, may not be so lucky in a fresh update, and could be penalised as well.

According to the search engine giant, the Google Panda update would affect 0.4% of queries which a regular user might notice. But a greater percentage of English language searches in the United States would be affected. In the US, 1.1% of searches in English would be affected.

The first Panda update, on 24 February 2011 was introduced to combat so called content farms, which allowed websites to gain premium search result real estate with ‘shallow’ or ‘low quality’ content. The new algorithm immediately affected around 12% of US searches.

Like many of the updates which have preceded it, the latest Google Panda update was confirmed after being rolled out. The best way to safeguard your site against the repercussions of a Panda update remains to follow common guidelines on quality content and positive SEO.