Should We Give You an ~Urgent Update~ about Google's Algorithm Changes?
If you read any online SEO publications or subscribe to industry newsletters, you’ve probably seen at least one ~URGENT UPDATE~ notifying you that something major has happened in Google over the past few days. Actually, there have been two major events within Google’s organic ranking algorithm. So, what do we know has happened?
Google Panda Is Now Part of Google’s Core Ranking Algorithm
Since February 2011, Google has periodically applied a series of updates nicknamed “Panda” that have focused on content quality – adjusting rankings according to things like presence of aggregated content, high ad-to-content ratios and other content quality factors. One of the major changes this week has been that Google acknowledged they are now including Panda as part of its core ranking algorithm, not just periodically applying those rules.
Combating much of the fear, uncertainty and doubt this change has generated, first, let me tell you why this isn’t a big deal. To one extent or another, we’ve known for almost five years that low quality content is verboten and will get your site penalized. The fact that Google has rolled this rule set into its core algorithm doesn’t change that – the rules aren’t radically new or different, they’re just applied on a more constant basis.
On the flip side, there are three interesting tidbits that were revealed among the buzz:
- Panda is not a sitewide penalty as it was applied in the past. As Google was quoted in this comprehensive Panda guide,
“The Panda algorithm may continue to show such a site for more specific and highly-relevant queries, but its visibility will be reduced for queries where the site owner’s benefit is disproportionate to the user’s benefit.”
- Panda is not (yet) applied in real time, according to Google’s Gary Illyes. So while sites may be able to resolve Panda-sourced penalties a little more quickly now that Panda is part of the core algorithm, that resolution will not be immediate.
- Deep in a Twitter comment thread, Gary Illyes did mention they are working to make Penguin’s link quality penalties realtime.
An Organic Ranking Update (or Updates) Occurred in the Last Week that Wasn’t Panda or Penguin Related
What we know is that there has been a high level of ranking change charted by tools like MozCast over the past week. We also can quote Google sources who say these changes are not related to the inclusion of Panda in the core ranking algorithm or anything related to Penguin. Finally, the SEMPost quoted Google’s John Mueller saying “…every time you’re searching, you’re probably in ten, twenty, thirty different experiments at the same time…”.
At this time, that is all PM Digital and industry pundits truly know. No pattern has been spotted in the non-Panda update that is occurring. Has Google just throttled up the number and frequency of experiments they’re conducting?
Thus ends today’s presentation of fact vs. fear-mongering.