According to the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog, Google have released a large algorithm update called “Panda”. The response to this new algorithm and the subsequent ranking of websites in Google search results has been varied.
First a bit of background on the new algorithm:
According to Amit Singhal on the blog post mentioned above the algorithmic improvement was initially rolled out over a month ago (24 Feb 2011), to a subset of results served up in the US only. On 11 April 2011 the new algorithm was rolled out globally to “all English-language Google users.”
The new algorithm “also incorporated new user feedback signals to help people find better search results.” What does this mean? Well, according to Google this means that users can choose to block certain sites from appearing in their search results using a plug-in in Google’s browser, Chrome. Google are apparently logging blocked sites and may be using this information to rank websites in their search results.
The obvious concern here, as raised by many of the commentators on that post, is how will Google stop users from negatively affecting their competitors in search results?
Google are also attempting to judge the quality of websites by getting users to rate websites using criteria such as “Do you consider this site to be authoritative? Would it be okay if this was in a magazine? Does this site have excessive ads?”
So what can you do if you’ve been hit by the Panda update?
Well, many suggest that links from social networking sites will carry more weight as it is a direct recommendation of your website by an individual.
Also, the number of ads on your site may have a detrimental affect on your ranking, more info on this can be found in this post by Andrew Hansen.
Google do state “If you believe your site is high-quality and has been impacted by this change, we encourage you to evaluate the different aspects of your site extensively.” They then link to their webmaster guidelines page.
There is a Google Panda Update Survival Guide available here.
Key factors that contribute to a Panda penalty:
- Low original content per page or site.
- High amount of adverts.
- Content and meta data not matching search terms.
- Overuse of keywords/phrases on a page thus generating “unnatural” text.
- High bounce rate, low visits, low click-through from search results.
- Low quality inbound links.