Google's Panda update, a major search algorithm change to tackle content farms, that was released only in the US in February has now gone live across the globe. It will affect all searches using English language on Google including both English speaking countries and English searches in non-English countries as well. Additionally, there are also some minor updates reported.
Google's Amit Singhal said, “Today we’ve rolled out this improvement globally to all English-language Google users, and we’ve also incorporated new user feedback signals to help people find better search results. In some high-confidence situations, we are beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into our algorithms. In addition, this change also goes deeper into the “long tail” of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before. The impact of these new signals is smaller in scope than the original change: about 2% of U.S. queries are affected by a reasonable amount, compared with almost 12% of U.S. queries for the original change.”
Incorporating Searcher Blocking Data
The incorporation of data about the sites that users block into Google's algorithms “in some high-confidence situations” means that if the particular site fits the criteria targeted by this algorithm, the searcher's blocking behavior may be used as a confirmation to incorporate the same into Google's search algorithms. Although, Google says that this is a secondary factor and not primary. The company has constantly used various data to decide the relevancy of search results including page content, anchor text in links to a site's page, user behavior and so on. The last two methods that allowed searchers to block certain sites from their search results, the Chrome extension and another way that lets users block link directly in their search results, are examples.
More Sites To Be Impacted
In addition, the impact of the algorithm changes and updates will reach a wider variety of sites, smaller ones too. This can be understood from Singhal's words, “this change also goes deeper into the “long tail” of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before.” In regards to this, Singhal told Search Engine Land's Vanessa Fox that, “We’re focused on showing users the highest quality, most relevant pages on the web. We’re cautious not to roll out changes until we’re confident that they improve the user experience, while at the same time helping the broader web ecosystem. We incorporate new signals into our algorithm only after extensive testing, once we’ve concluded that they improve quality for our users.”
The initial release of this algorithm change obviously bothered the owners of the sites that were negatively impacted. With this latest international release and more minor updates, Google adds that “we’ve found the algorithm is very accurate at detecting site quality.” They also “encourage you to evaluate the different aspects of your site extensively” if your site has been affected by this latest change despite being a high quality one. You can refer to the company's quality guidelines to improve your site and also use the Webmaster Help Forums to post queries and comments. However, Google will make no manual exceptions but consider your feedback in their future activities.
Vanessa provides some useful tips on how to check the user experience of your site. According to her, you could ask questions such as
- “Can visitors easily find their way around?
- Is it obvious what topic each page is about?
- Is the content original or is it aggregated from other sources?
- Do the number and placement of the ads obscure the visitor’s ability to quickly access the content?
- When looking objectively at the site, is the primary focus the user need or the business goal?
- Is the content on the page authoritative and valuable? Does it answer the query better than other pages on the web?
- If some of the pages on the site are very high quality and engaging, are other pages on the site not as high quality? (Google has stated that enough low quality content on a site can reduce the entire site’s rankings, not just the low quality pages.)”
Sounds like more work to do, but what can you do? If it is pagerank at Google that you want, then you play by the (Google) book. Try the tips and hope that they help, and keep looking out for more 'latest' updates from big G for you to adopt, adapt and ascend the ranking ladder.