Several website administrators reported traffic fluctuations last week, which Google today confirmed are the result of its latest Panda update.

In the last week, some website administrators noted a series of traffic shifts that led them to believe Google had rolled out its first Panda update of 2012. The speculation was confirmed by Search Engine Land on Thursday, with Google explaining there was a minor algorithm shift – dubbed Panda 3.2

According to the company, the update was mostly an adjustment that addressed some issues in previous updates. While some sites have reportedly been negatively impacted, many marketers who notice a change in their site activity say traffic levels have been restored to near pre-Panda levels.Moreover, there have been no changes in terms of ranking signals, so Google suggests this is a fairly minor but important update.

The iteration came on January 18, and it is just one of the 500 changes Google plans to make to its various search algorithms this year. Last week, the company unveiled a new algorithm that will negatively impact website’s with excessive above-the-fold ad content as part of its goal to promote high-quality websites with valuable content to users.

To date, this is the 10th Panda update since the initial iteration on February 24, 2011. For SEO, the most recent is minor, but the company’s goal to make as many as improvement as possible this year should have every marketer with SEO atop the priority list on the lookout throughout the year.

A minor Panda update was issued at the end of 2011, but the most recent major Panda update came on September 30 of last year, Brafton reported. Like earlier Panda iterations, the change wiped out the traffic of many websites that produce low-quality content. Even some of those sites that had regained a portion of the traffic initially lost to Panda saw organic visitors plummet, which should remind businesses that content marketing efforts must by constantly updated to offer value in the changing search environment. 

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.