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.