Do You Know Your Google Pandas From Your Penguins?

Google promised earlier in the summer that any changes it made to its search engine algorithm would from hence forth be minor.

Well, the search giant might have just pulled a fast one without many of us knowing it. Rather than sticking with minor changes and tweaks to the Penguin algorithm, Google has surprised the internet marketing world by releasing the latest version of its Panda algorithm update. Panda 20 was rolled out on 27 September, and had an impact on 2.4% of search queries according to Search Engine Land. This was then followed by a refresh of the Penguin data algorithm on 5 October which noticeably affected approximately 0.3% of UK searches according to a tweet from Mr Cutts.

Did the Arctic blasts stop there?

Well, no: Google also released a new algorithm on 28 September which removes low-quality content from the search engine rankings even when a site’s URL is an exact match for the search query executed.

So, if your business noticed a drop in rankings around this period you’re probably scratching your head and wondering which of these updates caused the problem, and more importantly trying to figure out how you can fix it. Well, the word from Google is that generally speaking any content marketing strategy that delivers relevant information to consumers will help companies avoid issues related to algorithm changes. Google won’t guarantee that businesses will not be affected though, and maintains that some minor ranking changes are inevitable. However, the search giant is also encouraging businesses to promote strong site content any way as it will always be valuable for SEO purposes. There’s just the smallest hint of a contradiction there, but any way.

Google has maintained for some time now that one of its primary concerns is fresh content, but the meaning of ‘freshness’ has never really been all that clear. So it was ‘refreshing’ to see that Mr Cutts come out with a help video last week in which he explained the philosophy that lies behind Google’s freshness algorithm. Freshness is just one of the signals Google uses to create its search rankings. He explained that companies using news content marketing, or those regularly updating pages with timely information, can still stand out and win traffic by posting frequently: however, not every ranking signal will apply to every content marketing and SEO strategy. What’s more, any site content developed solely to appeal to algorithms will be unlikely to achieve its goal of attracting and converting customer interest. Confused? Well, you’re not alone on that one.

Matt Cutts tried to make the matter a little clearer by stating that:

“There are more than 200 signals we use. The thing I would not do is say ‘so I need to have fresh content- therefore I’m going to change a few words on my pages every day, and I’m going to change the by-line every day so it looks like I have fresh content.’ That’s not the sort of thing that leads to higher rankings.”

So the gist of this latest freshness update seems to be that sites shouldn’t develop and use any sort of strategy solely to appeal to internet search crawlers. It won’t work in either the short or longer term, because Google has got your number. Google has developed search algorithms that are based on understanding exactly what viewers are looking for. Content should be created that gives customers what they’re looking for. If internet marketers can’t provide that information then their sites won’t make it onto the search results.

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