Did you know that, each year, Google changes its search algorithm between 500 and 600 times? Whilst most of these changes are minor, there will occasionally be a major update that severely affects search results. Search marketers like to stay on top of these changes to help them explain changes in ranking and traffic.
- January 22nd – Panda #24
In late January, Google announced their first change of the year – to Panda, one of their biggest updates to date. It was claimed that only 1.2% of queries were affected, so it wasn’t too major.
- May 22nd – Penguin 2.0
It was only after months of speculation that the 4th Penguin update was released. There was only a moderate impact on search results with evidence suggesting that the change was more targeted on the page level.
- June 11th – “Payday Loan”
This was a targeted update that tackled niches with notoriously spammy results (specifically payday loans and porn). Whilst this is when the change was announced, it would take a month or two to roll out.
- July 18th – Panda Recovery
Whilst Google confirmed that a change occurred around this date, they were unclear whether it was part of a 10-day rolling update or not. It actually seemed to soften some of Panda’s previous penalties.
- July 19th – Knowledge Graph Expansion
The very next day, people began to notice that queries with Knowledge Graph (KG) entries and expanded by more than half. This meant that more than a quarter of all searches showed a KG entry of some kind.
- August 6th – In-depth Articles
It was announced that Google had added a new type of news result known as ‘in-depth articles’, which is dedicated to more long-form content. To begin with, it only appeared across around 3% of searches.
- August 20th – Hummingbird
Although this update was announced on September 26th, it was suggested that it actually took place a month earlier. It has been compared to Caffiene and is believed to power changes for months to come.
- October 4th – Penguin 2.1
Due to the 2.1 designation, it is believed that this update was primarily in regards to data and didn’t comprise any major changes to the Penguin algorithm. Even so, some webmasters said they were hit hard.
Whilst there have been plenty of other updates rolled out by Google this year (a couple of unnamed ones and a few adjustments to Panda and Penguin), the ones that we have outlined above were the ones to cause noticeable differences. Who knows what the rest of the year will bring?
Last week, it was announced that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had taken action against search engine giant, Google, in regards to their compliance with the UK Data Protection Act. The ICO have stated that their reasoning for the legal action is because Google has not made it clear how user data will be used in their privacy policies.
The ICO is not the only European data authority that has made complaints; this action is actually the result of a coordinated effort with the 27 other data protection authorities present across the continent. This is also not the first time that Google has fallen foul of European data protection authorities – in 2012, they illegally collected data using their Street View cars.
If Google fail to update their privacy policies to make them more clear about how the user data collected will be used across all of their products, however, the ICO will not hesitate to take formal enforcement action.
Late last week, it was discovered that Google had quietly updated their ranking article help document to reflect changes that they have made in their messages of late. The change was spotted by internet marketer, Erik Baeumlisberger, and suggests that building quality websites is actually more important than building quality links, which is actually contrary to Google’s past messages, which have stated that links are important to your ranking.
Barry Swartz of Search Engine Roundtable said that the “change is to keep Google consistent with their general change in messaging that content is what webmasters should focus on, not links”. This means that it is more about increasing the number of people who will want to use and share your content, which will actually help to build quality links in the long run; the webmaster’s focus, however, should be on the content.
But what was the actual change that Google made to their article? It originally read: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.” As of the 27th of May, however, this part of the article was changed to read: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
This is not to say, however, that links are not important to your ranking and that being social is actually more essential (as this is how users will share links to your content). Being social is currently not important at all, but many people believe that this will change in the future as more and more people share links and content. Instead, what has changed is the way that webmasters should think about their content, as it will not be shared if it is not interesting or engaging.
Looks like Google is going to launch a new Panda Update this Friday or Monday. We wonder what changes they will make to the algorithm this time. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s search spam has confirmed that another Panda Update will probably be coming within days from now. He also announced that new updates including Google’s Penguin and new Link Network update will also be coming soon this year.
Matt also informed about a large Penguin update which is on its way and could hit the SEO world soon before the end of this year. The entire search quality team of Google is currently working on a major update to the Penguin algorithm. The last Penguin update, Penguin 3 was on October 2012 and before that, we had Penguin 2 in May 2012 and it was initially released in April 2012.
He further added that Google will look after and possibly take down couple of large link networks in the coming days. The Google has been tracking those large link networks and studying them over the past couple months and they are about to take action. Matt said that they will soon carry out another update in the coming days that specifically targets another large link network. Hold on to your hat, Google is about to stir the pot again. Let’s see what changes these updates will bring for the SEO world.
Fingers crossed and all eyes on Google, a Penguin or Panda Update is coming your way. Prepare your business for the nest roll out, before it’s too late. You have been warned!
Finally, Google announced a new Panda update adding it to the tally of total 24 Panda updates. The official announcement of 24th Panda update was made on January 22, 2013. A total of 1.2% of English Queries were affected, confirmed and announce by this update. The last update was made on January 21, 2012 which impacted 1.3% of English queries as compared to 0.8% of queries on November 21, 2012.
- It all started in January, 2011 when Google started taking notes of top listed sites with low quality content. Later on, the first Panda update was officially announced on February 24, 2011 which affected about 12% of US results. Since then, continuous updates were performed by Google in order to lower the rank of lower quality sites and return the high quality sites in Google search engine.
- After the first Panda update, there was a considerable growth in the ranking of new websites and a downfall in the ranking of websites with large amounts of advertising. This new change made by Google went global in April, 2011 has affected number of websites till now. Google keeps on changing its algorithm on regular basis as a result there were number of complaints regarding scrapers who are getting better ranking than the sites with original content.
The Panda algorithm of Google uses artificial intelligence to trace low quality websites which are ranked higher in the search engines. This algorithm is specially designed to find similarities between high and low quality websites. However, Google has listed certain norms and guidelines for achieving a good quality site which must be followed in order to get away with the Panda updates.