If you’ve ever experienced a sudden downturn in your web traffic and can’t pinpoint a specific reason make sure to ask your SEO manager whether a Google algorithm update may be the culprit. Although Google hasn’t confirmed changes to their updates or algorithm refreshes in the past, savvy marketers spot them when they occur. In theory if you are following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines you should not be negatively affected by an update and may even benefit when others not following Google’s playbook are penalized by being lowered in search results.
Penguin 2.1 (last refreshed about a year ago) is a part of Google’s overall search algorithm that periodically looks for sites that are in some way spamming Google’s search results but somehow still ranking well. In particular, it targets sites that may have purchased paid links. Google’s John Mueller posted some clarification about recovering from Penguin refreshes on Google’s product forums. He explains changes in rankings happen to sites impacted by Penguin because a site impacted by Penguin is also likely impacted by other algorithms. So, when you repair the Penguin errors on your website, you are probably also repairing other algorithms that may be negatively impacting your site.
Panda is a search filter intended to prevent websites with poor quality content from landing in Google’s top search results. May 20, 2104 Google announced the release of Panda 4.0. and they explained at the time they would not be confirming future Panda updates. John Mueller has stated Google doesn’t have a fixed schedule for algorithm updates like Panda, this means they definitely tweak the algorithms to get the desired results and roll it out more frequently. In this post by Glenn Gabe he talks about panda “tremors” and the near real-time refreshes.
What got me thinking about this today was Jeff Quipp’s post today in Toronto-based Financial Post “Six things that may be hurting your website’s Google ranking.” A solid high-level explanation of Google algorithms and how they may affect your website.
Bottom line is follow the Google guidelines, monitor your analytics frequently to watch for trends (negative and positive) and rely on your SEO manager to determine your best strategy.
And I haven’t even talked about Hummingbird. For another post.