Each year, Google changes its search engine’s algorithm up to 500-600 times. While most of these changes are minor, every few months Google rolls out a “major” algorithmic update that affects search results in significant ways. In this article we evaluate how Google has continued to evolve the significant releases of their “Penguin” and “Panda” updates, how these changes caused some website’s rankings to decline, and what can be done to prevent this from happening to yours.
On February 24th 2011, Google announced its first ever “Panda/Farmer Update”, which was a ranking penalty that targeted poor website content (what it termed as “thin” or “not good enough”), or websites that used dubious content farms and ones with high ad-to-content ratio. Panda is a site-wide penalty, so that if enough pages are tagged as poor quality, the entire site is subject to it, (even though some good quality pages would continue to rank well). The only way to lose the penalty is to remove or improve the poor quality content. This major algorithm update hit some sites hard, affecting up to 12% of search results according to Google.
The Panda update had a series of subsequent changes over the following year and the “Penguin Update” (aka “Webspam Update”) was released on April 24th 2012. That evaluated the incoming links to a site to determine if they involved link schemes that were solely intended to improve rankings. This was done by automatically raising flags by examining the ratio of links compared with those for competitors’ sites, which then led to a manual investigation by Google. This impacted an estimated 3.1% of English-language search queries.
Subsequent updates were made to Penguin on May 25th and October 5th 2012 and the final release of Panda (#25) was on 14/4/2013. That filter is now going to become part of the core algorithm (Panda Everflux). This means that businesses of all sizes need to consider creating websites/pages with quality, relevant content that enhances the user’s experience. Also, any links that are created to point to it need to be genuine ones, rather than just being developed in an attempt to improve rankings.
So the main outcome post-Penguin, is that businesses need to take care with link building techniques and, ideally, to start earning links through real relationships and useful content. This is not easy for many websites, but Google will reward those websites that follow the process of combining good quality webpage content together with genuine links to support its ranking performance, as these are the kind of sites that it deems will benefit its users’ experience.
If you would like details about how we can help your website improve, rather than get penalised in the rankings, contact us now for more information.