Last Friday, Google announced the EMD update. It was billed as a small and minor update, but the effects seemed to be fairly large, with many webmasters claiming to have been hit. Google's Matt Cutts made it a point to say that the algorithm change was unrelated to both Panda and Penguin.
He then said it was not the only update that was rolling out during that timeframe, noting that Google makes changes every day (over 500 a year). He didn't happen to mention that there was a new Panda update, however. Finally, he has dropped the news that there was indeed a Panda update going on at the same time as the EMD update (and it's still rolling out).
Were you impacted by one of these updates? Are you able to discern which one it was? Let us know in the comments.
Search Engine Land reports that Google released a Panda algorithm update (not a data refresh, but an actual update) on Thursday, and that it impacts 2.4% of English search queries (and is still rolling out). That's significantly larger than the 0.6% of English-US queries Cutts said the EMD update affected. So, it seems that the majority of those claiming to be hit by the EMD update were likely hit by Panda (which would explain those claiming to be hit, that didn't have exact match domains).
Here's the exact statement from Cutts that the publication is sharing: "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)."
Couldn't he have just said that in the first place? Google had to know the confusion this would cause. Since the original Panda update, Google has made more of an effort to be transparent about algorithm changes, and it certainly has been. It seems, however, like delayed transparency is becoming the trend recently.
For months, Google was releasing monthly lists of updates that had been made the prior month. The last time, they left people waiting before finally posting a giant list for two months' worth of changes. It seems that Google is doing this again, as we have yet to see lists for August or September (assuming Google is about to release these lists).
Either way, it appears the Panda continues to wreak havoc on webmasters. Wait until they get a load of the next Penguin.
For those sites that were hit, obviously if there is not an exact match domain involved, that makes the problem a little easier to figure out, at least in terms of which update the site was actually hit by. It seems unlikely that the EMD update would have done much to impact you if your site does not use an EMD. Which leaves Panda (and of course, any other updates that Google hasn't told us about - they do make changes every day, and often more than one in a day).
While Cutts said that the EMD update is unrelated to Panda, that is not necessarily the case, depending on how you view the comment. Algorithmically speaking, I presume Cutts means the two have nothing to do with each other. However, in concept, the two are very similar in that they go after low quality. So, doesn't it stand to reason that if you improve the quality of your content, you could actually recover from either update? That is assuming that the EMD update is one that can be recovered from. Let's put it this way: if it's possible to recover from the EMD update (which most likely it probably is), improving the quality of your site and content should be the main objective.
This just happens to be the same objective for recovering from Panda. Of course quality is subjective, and Google has it's own view of what this entails. Luckily for webmasters Google has essentially laid out exactly what it is looking for from content, specifically with regards to the Panda update.
Googe has pretty much given webmaster the rules of the road to Panda recovery, even if they're not official rules. You've probably seen the list before, but if you were never hit by the Panda update until now, maybe you haven't. Either way, here are the questions Google listed last year as "questions that one could use to assess the quality of a page or an article:
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Of course, Google uses over 200 signals in all, but that should get you started on thinking about your site's content.
And with regards to the EMD update, remember, Google is targeting "low quality" EMDs. Not simply EMDs in general.
We've provided tons of coverage of the Panda update since Google first launched it. To learn more about it, feel free to peruse the Panda section of WebProNews.
Do you think Google has improved its search results with this algorithm combo? Is Google being transparent enough about algorithm updates for your taste? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Image credit: Rick Bucich