A new Panda update has been confirmed by Google at the same time as they announce 40 search updates that have either happened in the last month or are in the process of being implemented as you read.
It would be difficult to summarise the changes detailed in the Google blog post in their entirety but there are some that will most likely be of more interest than others:
Panda 3.3 Update
Google released the following information about the most recent Panda-related change:
“This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.”
This sounds along the lines of Panda 3.2, which occurred in mid-January and was described only as a minor update or “data refresh”. It was said that it was not related to new or changed ranking signals.
One of the 40 search updates that is likely to induce much discussion is the eradication of a link evaluation signal that Google has been using for years.
“We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.”
When prompted for further clarification on these changes that they only briefly detail in their blog posts, Google have signified that the posts are as informative as they want them to be. This, in addition to Google’s reasonable, and some would say essential, hesitancy to be too transparent regarding ranking signals means it is probably safe to assume that little more information will be released about this than what is seen above.
Improvements to Ranking for Local Search Results
In addition to the changes in link evaluation, the company says that traditional algorithmic ranking factors are now playing a more substantial part in generating local search results:
“This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.”
Traditional methods of SEO have been playing a bigger part in Google’s local search since Places Search was launched in late 2010 and it appears that this trend will continue.
Google says that they are now able to determine when both queries and documents are local to the user more accurately than before because of a new system that will allow them to find results from a user’s geographical location more accurately.
Other Google Updates
There are many other updates that may or may not be of interest. For more information, you can see the entire Google blog post here. In addition to the elements covered above, it may be useful to pay attention to the following:
• More accurate detection of official pages
• Expand the size of our images index in Universal Search
• “Site:” query update
• International launch of shopping rich snippets
Why not get in touch with us here at Yoma to let us know your thoughts or if you would like any further information.