This week saw a couple of major pieces of SEO news. One was the aftermath of a Google Core algorithm update, which rolled out about a week ago. The other is that the infamous Panda algorithm is now baked into that core algorithm.
Have you noticed any significant Google changes since the update? Let us know in the comments.
There has been a whole lot of chatter about both of these pieces of news, and while they're both very much related, the consensus is that while Panda is now part of the core algorithm, the core algorithm update was not Panda-related.
While that may be the case, much like Panda, the update did seem to take content quality and "thickness" (as opposed to "thin," which Panda was always designed to combat) into consideration as well as freshness. Searchmetrics, which often releases lists of winners and losers from major Google updates, released some analysis about this core update.
The firm found gains for sites with “current” or “holistic”content, referring to those covering a topic comprehensively.
“One of the top winners from this update according to Searchmetrics’ analysis is gq.com,” a spokesperson for Searchmetrics tells us. “On gq.com the biggest winning URL is a comprehensive article about NFL star Tom Brady. The article contains photos and a video and a lot of text (more than 3000 words including an interview).”
Other winners included time.com, qz.com, howstuffworks.com, politico.com, and inquisitr.com. Educational game sites like brainpop.com and mathplayground.com also gained.
“According to Searchmetrics, whether a publisher or brands won or lost for a specific keyword is dependent on the individual QDF (query deserves freshness) score that Google calculates – this is linked to whether the topic/search relates to current news and events and user behavior, particularly search volume,” the spokesperson says. “For topics that are current, publishers with current content witnessed visibility gains.”
The biggest loser, according to the report, was TheAtlantic.com, which it says has primarily lost with old URLs that ranked for brand keywords and entities.
This is rather interesting as The Atlantic does publish a lot of in-depth and "thick" content.
Searchmetrics notes that the trend is not noticeable in international markets yet, suggesting the update hasn’t rolled out on a global level so far.
Find their full analysis here.
On the Panda front, Rusty Brick's Barry Schwartz has been all over Google spokespeople about the news that it's part of the core algorithm. He recaps a response to one of his questions by John Mueller in a Webmaster video, which you can watch below (start at the 28 minute mark), "The Panda scores assigned to a site (yes, it is a site wide score) is still not done in real time and not done as part of the core algorithm run. So even with Panda being part of the core algorithm, it doesn't mean Panda sites will see recovery when a core algorithm is confirmed to have been run by Google."
He also points to this comment on Google+ from Google's Garry Illyes, who responded to a question about if the Panda change means it will be updated automatically as opposed to manually (even if not in real time): "We do continue to update the data which is used to recognize high quality sites, and we roll that data out over time. Sometimes we have to make manual updates, sometimes it's automatic, but that generally doesn't play a role in how the data is rolled out."
Schwartz culled the following words from Mueller in another hangout (below - start at 31 minutes):
As part of the core algorithm, you probably wouldn’t see those kind of updates happening. That’s something that's just kind of rolling, rolling right along, so it's not so much like in the past where you'd see on this date, this actually changed, and we, we updated that. So that's something kind of something as a more rolling algorithm you wouldn’t really see the individual cut dates of specific parts of the data.
It’s not real time, in the sense that, we don’t crawl URLs and have that data immediately. So it’s something we kind of have to bundle together, understand the data, and have that updated. And we do that on more a rolling basis now so that when one is finished, the next one kind of starts. So it’s real time if you look at a really big scale in that things are happening all the time, but it’s not real time in the sense that every second there is a new value that’s being produced based on new a new data point that we have.
I think what you would usually see is that this is just kind of a subtle move from one to the other thing, as things kind of roll out. So it’s not that you would even notice this cycle.
Finally, he points to another Google+ comment from Illyes:
...Imagine an engine of a car. It used to be that there was no starter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starter_(engine)), the driver had to go in front of the car, and use some tool to start the engine. Today we have starters in any petrol engine, it's integrated. It became more convenient, but essentially nothing changed.
For a user or even a webmaster it should not matter at all which components live where, it's really irrelevant, and that's why I think people should focus on these "interesting" things less.
Just remember, if you're worried about Panda and want a good idea about some things to focus on, Google endorsed this guide from Jennifer Slegg.
Meanwhile, Google is expected to roll out the new and much anticipated Penguin, which it has been teasing for many months. It's still expected to launch this month, but that's not set in stone.
Are you most concerned with Panda, this most recent update, or the Pending penguin update? Let us know in the comments.
Image via YouTube