Google Search Algorithm: 4 Updates In 2 Weeks

Google Search Algorithm: 4 Updates In 2 Weeks

The Google search algorithm has been updated yet again, which now makes it four times in the past two weeks.

Google is continuing its campaign (read: war) against low quality websites and there are no signs of Google halting its offensive strategy.

If anything, Google has upped the ante by becoming more aggressive at targeting low quality sites than it has ever been, and is carrying out these “strikes” much more frequently.

Last week, Google published a post on search quality highlights and the 65 changes they have made over August and September. Check out Matt Cutts official tweet below:

Google is constantly pursuing the provision of relevant, useful links that serve the searchers intent, ie giving people what they want when they search.

Prior to Panda & Penguin, a lot of the SERPs were dominated by low quality websites that ranked for certain keywords by unscrupulous link builders and SEOs whose sole intent was to game the system in order to fill their pockets using some very blackhat techniques.

From a searchers perspective, these updates should be good news as they will hopefully drive out and de-index the piles of SHERPs (SHit search Engine Results Pages) that have been, IMHO, plaguing search for quite some time now…

Latest Google Search Algorithm Updates

In case you didn’t realise it, there have now been 4 Google search algorithm updates in the last 2 weeks alone. Below is a quick rundown of what’s been pushed live so far:

Google Panda Update 20 – 27/09/2012

Whilst neither Google nor Matt Cutts officially tweeted or blogged about this update, Search Engine Land published a blog post that starts off by saying:

Google has confirmed with us that on Thursday, September 27th, they released a Panda algorithm update – this would be the 20th Panda update…

They go on to say that this update is “…a fairly major Panda update that impacts 2.4% of English search queries and is still rolling out.”

Further down the post, Matt Cutts sent Search Engine Land the following comment:

Google began rolling out a new update of Panda on Thursday, 9/27. This is actually a Panda algorithm update, not just a data update. A lot of the most-visible differences went live Thursday 9/27, but the full rollout is baking into our index and that process will continue for another 3-4 days or so. This update affects about 2.4% of English queries to a degree that a regular user might notice, with a smaller impact in other languages (0.5% in French and Spanish, for example).

Exact Match Domain (EMD) Algorithm Update – 28/09/2012

These algorithm changes are now announced via Twitter by Matt Cutts and are referred to as “weather reports”.

This Google search algorithm update targeted low-quality exact match domains (EMDs) from showing so high up in Google’s SERPs.

About 30 minutes after tweeting about Google’s “minor weather report” affecting EMDs, Matt Cutts sent out another tweet – see embedded tweet below – saying that this Google search algorithm update was unrelated to Panda/Penguin and that it would affect 0.6% of English-US queries to “a noticeable degree”.

What are exact match domains?

Domain names that exactly match a search query, e.g. a site that sells pink boxer shorts that owns the domain, is an exact match domain. While this update targets low quality domains, it will not / should not necessarily affect authoritative, high quality sites which include keywords in their domain name.

Google Penguin Update 3 – 05/10/2012

This Google search algorithm data refresh – dubbed Google Penguin 3 – noticeably affected:

0.3% of English search queries
• ~0.4% of Spanish search queries
~0.3% of Italian search queries
0.4% of French search queries

What is the Google Penguin update?

The Google Penguin algorithm update originally launched at the end of April this year, and was followed by a second update at the end of May. Penguin was first dubbed the “over-optimisation penalty” by the SEO community until Google finally rolled out the “Webspam Update”, and which was shortly thereafter dubbed “Penguin.”

Penguin addressed spam factors which included keyword stuffing, artificial / unnatural links, article spam, exact match link anchor text, etc, and impacted roughly 3.1% of English queries.

Page Algorithm Layout Improvement Update Refresh – 09/10/2012

Matt Cutts confirmed on his Twitter timeline that today’s update is not Panda, Penguin nor the EMD (Exact Match Domain) update, but rather a Page Layout algorithm improvement update – which was first launched in January 2012.

What is the Page Layout Improvement update?

This Google search algorithm update targets ad heavy pages that do not contain much content “above-the-fold” and that do not focus on delivering the best possible user experience.

Matt Cutts provided webmasters with some advice in the Google Webmaster Help Live Q&A video below:

How To Benefit From Google Search Algorithm Updates

Quality, quality, quality! Google keeps going on about providing their users with a great quality experience.

So, site owners, SEOs and online marketers should adopt that as their primary manifesto and focus on delivering their visitors with the best possible experience and on delivering the best possible results.  

Google have recently provided more guidance on doing this by listing examples of behaviour that you should avoid to keep your site visible in their search engine results.

Check out Matt Cutts tweet below which he specifically addressed to the attention of SEOs:

Print these Webmaster Quality Guidelines out and memorise them to keep your site in good standing with Google!

You should also familiarise yourself with what is considered a webspam content violation, how to create great content that performs well in Google search results and how fresh content could be an important search signal.

Monitor The Top 50 Google Webmaster Guidelines Pages

You can monitor changes to the top 50 Google Webmaster Guidelines by bookmarking this useful page published by Shaun Anderson from Hobo-Web Ltd and which keeps track of advice, guidelines, support and warnings documents published by Google.

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Pedro Da Silva

Online Marketing Junkie

My name is Pedro Da Silva. I have built-up a wide range of digital marketing skills over the last 15 years working in the web industry. From front-end web design and graphics, to SEO and online marketing. I'm creative, commercial and technically minded. South African born & bred, I work in the UK online marketing industry. I'm a proud dad & husband that loves music, photography and mixed martial arts.

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