Google has been playing around with its search results and the lives of several webmasters as well with their updates dubbed “Google Panda”. However, it looks like the reign of Google Panda is now over and it has been taken over by a new bird – “Google Penguin“.
Google Penguin will attempt to clean up some more spam in Google search results, but it has been bad at best with them messing up several high paying keywords like “make money online” among others.
Read more About Google Panda
The Panda update has definitely caused a lot of webmasters to lose sleep because of dropping traffic and removal from lucrative search engine positioning. Google Penguin is set to compound things further. However, unlike the earlier update, users affected by the Google Penguin update will be able to voice their concerns directly to Google through a Google Docs form.
If you think that you have been affected by the Google Penguin updates, you can visit this form (which was tweeted by Head of webspam at Google; Matt Cutts) and voice your concern about being demoted or removed from Google search results. The form says;
If your site was affected by the “Penguin” webspam algorithm update on April 24th, 2012, and you don’t think it should have been affected, please give us more details below:
This seems to be the first time that Google is actually accepting direct requests from webmasters about issues regarding search engine penalties. In the past, webmasters could only use forums and webmaster tools to voice their displeasure. However, don’t expect them to go through each and every request, because they might get millions of them from users and it would definitely not be possible to go through them all.
Image credit Matt Cutts via Instagram
22nd February and 11th April, 2011 – I will remember these two dates forever. One year ago, Google pushed out a much needed algorithmic update to its search filter, popularly known as the Panda farmer update. This algorithmic update, as you might know, was designed to target content farms and spam sites but the real scenario was very different from theoretical goals as thousands of legitimate publishers saw a big dive in their organic traffic. Panda was launched to address “low quality” or “thin” content and being a site wide penalty, this update did not make any exceptions; changing SEO best practices forever.
The reality: Panda is color blind and sees things only in white or black. Either your site falls entirely in the Panda pit or you are never affected at all. There is no hanging in the middle, pure binary stuff.
The most frustrating thing regarding Panda is that it is a rolling update and the iterations are manually pushed. You can’t expect results overnight. You have to patiently make a change, wait for 90 days, see if your changes were noticed by Google and move on to make the next change. If your site was affected by any of Google’s Panda iterations, you know how difficult it is to arrive at conclusions. There are a lot of factors, some examples:
- Site design, architecture, navigation and usability.
- Advertisements – how much is too much?
- Content quality – the definition of “Good content”, “Shallow content”, “thin content” and “poor content”.
- Content exclusivity – why does your website even exist?
- Links / Social signals.
Google has confirmed that a new Panda update was rolled out in the last week of February, 2012. Along with 40 improvements pushed to the filter, it is expected that this update will have a lasting impact on sites who practice unethical link building. In their official blog post, Google has clearly mentioned that they are completely turning off a method of link analysis that was being used for several years. The link analysis algorithm is now re-constructed and Google is now stressing more on traditional algorithmic ranking factors.
Here is a brief synopsis of some noteworthy changes that looks appealing:
- Shopping rich snippets goes international which means, now you can look at the meta description of a search result and find relevant products, prices, availability, ratings and review counts. Previously, shopping rich snippets were only available in US, Germany and Japan.
- Deeper integration of web search history will show personalized results based on what you have searched before. For example, if you did a search for “women’s clothing”, arrived to a site from search results and immediately hit the back button, you might not see that site again, given that you perform the exact same query after one month. This example is just my assumption, not an official declaration.
- Video results will be more detailed than before as Google will now show direct links to most popular videos of a YouTube channel in search results.
- The rankings of local search results will now consider the rankings of main search results as a signal. Google says that they have figured out a more reliable way to find results from a user’s city, so they can serve location specific web documents to the user.
Coming back to link popularity and how this Panda update is going to redefine the influence of links, I have this feeling that they are going to dilute the value of “old” links. The age of a link decides how fresh the “value” of a “vote” is. Savvy webmasters have a tendency to outperform their competitors with “number”. Instead of focusing on the content or service, spammers (and legitimate publishers too) try to beat the competition by buying tons of links. As far as ranking goes, the link score of a page (often termed as PageRank) is still a very important factor. For the long tail of search, PageRank can be ignored but if you are considering short and straight queries, PageRank is still a very dominating signal among all the other 200 signals Google uses in their search algorithm.
A consequence of PageRank is the prosperity of link farms and so called “Seo companies” who sell text links to webmasters, in return of a ranking boost. This method works wonders for some but it is a highly risky zone and might have negative effects on your overall ranking going forward.
This isn’t going to work in a Post Panda world. Sooner or later, the algorithm will detect your spam behavior so before it’s too late, bid adieu to low quality link building, improve your content and try to attract links organically.