Google currently has three major algorithm updates that SEOs should be paying close attention to. Google Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird were all updated for very specific reasons. In this post, we’ll recap the updates. We’ll also tell you why each one was made and how you can use it to get a higher ranking.
Before we get started, it’s important to know and understand the reasoning behind the updates. Google wants to adopt a more holistic approach to site ranking. The days of rewarding sites that have a large volume of keyword loaded content are long gone. Yes, content is still a part of the algorithm, but so are links and conversational search queries. Quality in all aspects is what’s rewarded. Good websites help users get ranked high. It sounds like-and is-common sense; however, it’s a change of pace that we have to adapt to.
Google Panda deals with content. As was previously alluded to, it was created to weed out sites with large volumes of loaded content that provided little quality information. They no longer want users clicking on sites that can’t connect with and help them. The three aspects of Google Panda that you can use to get a higher ranking deal with word count, user generated content, and search query matching content.
Word count matters much less than before. Again, the new algorithms focus on quality. If a site can get a quality message across in 75 words, it will be ranked high. If it uses 350+ words that are full of fluff and spam, it will be ranked low. It’s that simple. What’s recommended is that you create content that uses enough words to answer the query. Excess words are no longer needed.
User generated content is much more regulated. Spammy guests posts or forums filled with spam will send a site straight to the bottom of the rankings; however, this doesn’t mean you should get rid of user generated content. Quality is what counts and is rewarded.
Search query matching content is important. Your page has to have specific answers to the questions users are asking. The best way to ensure this is to read the query, then inspect your content. If it doesn’t answer the question, simply add content that does. Often times, it need only be a few sentences.
Google penguin deals with links. It was created to discredit sites that use purchased and low quality links from directories or spam. Like Panda, it wants quality and will punish sites whose links don’t offer it. The best way to ensure sites are optimized for Penguin is to perform a thorough link audit in which low quality or spam links are targeted and then removed. It can be difficult. Largely because links that were rewarded in the past are now being punished. Good news is that most website owners can do this right through Google Webmaster Tools in the “links to your site” section. To make things simple, these are some of your thought processes that should be changing due to the new updates:
If you perform a thorough audit as recommended, you should be fine with penguin. The key is assessing quality, and removing the links that don’t offer it.
Hummingbird was created to help improve search queries. It was the first change to Google’s main algorithm since 2001. It was created largely in part to the new conversational search, and to improve long query searches. It differs from Panda and Penguin it that it doesn’t target spam. It’s like Panda in that it’s rewarding sites that offer high quality, organized content that’s easy to read and answers users’ questions.
In regards to optimizing for Hummingbird, it’s difficult. The only thing you can really due is check your content for readability and make sure that it can answer short and long search queries.
In conclusion, Google’s holistic approach to site ranking should be met with a holistic approach to SEO. This is a good thing. We’re in the business of helping clients create websites that allow them to reach out and help customers. In the end, making money is what’s always important them. It’s never been a secret that quality websites help companies make money. There’s really no new science, or tricks that need to be learned with the new updates. Just a further commitment to provide our clients with a results oriented digital marketing strategy that’s centered around their mission and values.
Over the past few years, there has been much hype and speculation surrounding each of the major updates that has been performed by Google in a bid to improve the quality of online content. Although many webmasters have not noticed overly significant changes in the amounts of traffic going to their sites, others have. However, the most recent Google Panda update does not seem to have had any major impact – yet.
@rustybrick Yes, last weekend we began rolling out a Panda refresh that will take a few months to complete. It affects 2-3% of the queries.
— Gary Illyes (@methode) July 24, 2015
Gary Illyes from Google has provided confirmation with regards to the fact that the company started rolling out its latest Panda update (version 4.2) a few days ago, which is currently only affecting around 2 – 3% of queries. Many website owners and developers have not yet been affected by this update; however, this does not mean that they will not see any effects from it in the near future, as Illyes went on to state that it could still take a couple of months for the latest update to be rolled out completely and for it to take effect across the board.
At this stage, there has been very little evidence that the most recent Google Panda update has even taken place. A search results monitoring tool on Moz called Mozcast, has not yet shown any signs of unusual online activity over the past few days since the update was implemented. In fact, for the most part, web developers, site owners, SEO experts and other online entrepreneurs and marketers haven’t reported seeing any form of Panda-like activity in theirs or their client’s search ranking results. It has been speculated that this could be because of the amount of time the rollout is taking to be implemented or the fact that the update will indeed only affect up to 3% of search queries.
When comparing the most recent Google Panda update to others that have been rolled out over the past few years, the previous one was reported to only have had any form of impact on around 3 – 5% of all web search queries, and the update prior to that one was thought to have had an effect on just over 7% of all search queries that were being performed. Seeing as though only a small percentage of search queries seem to be affected by each subsequent Panda update, it is thought that sites that are susceptible to Panda recoveries or penalties may not be affected now or at any point on the future.
Although the most recent Panda update may only be affecting a very small percentage of websites at the moment, this does not mean that sites that have not been affected can start providing lower quality content or spam to visitors. Instead, each Google update should be regarded as a gentle reminder for webmasters and online entrepreneurs to ensure that they provide the highest quality content possible to their site visitors at all times.