Google's Latest Algorithm Updates (Not Just Panda)

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The most recent Google Panda algorithm update that I wrote about was Panda 2.5, and there have been several iterations of the Panda algorithm since then.

Post-Panda2.5 tweaks

Since Panda 2.5, Google (through Matt Cutts and others) has been providing Google algorithm weather reports like this one:
 MattCutts Weather Report tweetThere have been several of these “minor” changes in the Panda algorithm that have been reported on search engine blogs and forums.
The latest Panda tweak/update happened last Friday, November 18th, and was reported through Twitter as a “Tiny weather report” affecting less than 1% of searches.
 Google Weather Report Tweet
Other tweaks to the Panda algorithm have been reported as happening on October 4th, October 13th, and October 20th, 2011.  Each of these updates have had smaller but significant changes to end user's search results on Google.

Bigger Brands

One of the noticed results of the latest round of October 2011 Panda tweaks is that bigger brands have been promoted over other smaller brands.  If Google’s algorithm believes that your website is an authority on a subject, with these changes you will be more heavily weighted to get the top rankings for keywords in subjects for which Google considers your website an authority.

We can conclude that the Panda machine learning algorithm infrastructure (described here in my earlier article)  has become more efficient and allowed a faster turnaround time for Google Panda algorithm tweaks.

A Second non-Panda Google Algorithm Update

Google’s Freshness Update is their latest big update and it is built on top of their 2010 Caffeine infrastructure.  Google’s Caffeine infrastructure allowed Google to index (gather) new content and existing content updates more quickly, and now Google is using the Caffeine infrastructure to modify their algorithm to return newer and fresher results.  Google announced this freshness update on November 3rd, 2011.

Practical Impact

For very immediate or hot topics like weather (hurricane Irene), politics (Occupy Wall Street protests), or police actions (missing children)  Google will rank content within minutes or hours that is most relevant to the latest breaking news on those subjects.

Google's urgency to incorporate this Freshness update was likely increased in recent month because of their loss of a real-time feed to Twitter data.  Without the fresh Twitter data easily accessible to include in Google search results as relevant fresh content, Google needed a way to meet the new Twitter-influenced expectations of internet searchers or risk losing some real-time or recent news searches to Twitter or other social media outlets.

Google will also be looking for more recent, relevant content for annual events like the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, or weekly Premier League soccer scores from England.

Google reported that 35% of all searches will be impacted.  Hopefully their ranking algorithm will get the search results fresher and more useful to users.  We have seen in the past from other major Google updates that there will be some websites or content authors who will lose Google referrals in favor of less qualified content or even outright search SPAM.

Searchmetrics reported on many of the top winners/losers with Google’s freshness update on their blog.  Major brands did do better with the freshness update, but likely because they have regular publishing schedules with fresh, relevant content.

On a personal note, I appreciate Google emphasizing fresh content as this is a concept that I’ve always thought was important in SEO, which is why my Experts Exchange username is freshcontent.

More Google algorithm analysis will be forthcoming and I will also be analyzing Bing’s latest algorithm changes.
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