Google’s ‘Panda’ update is receiving a high level of search, SEO and even mainstream media attention, but the repercussion for brands engaging in social media is one can of worms begging to be opened.
Big fat juicy worms, like will sites currently considered valuable for brands to engage with suddenly lose their influence?
And has Google search become a crowdsourcing exercise, enabling uninitiated users – or even deliberate hacktivists with a bugbear – to hypothetically ‘block’ a credible brand website out of search?
Malcolm Slade sheds light on the latest Google algorithm, summarising as Google’s effort to provide better quality content-rich results and flush out the thin, low-value ‘spammy’ ones.
Known as the ‘Panda’ update, the algorithm launched in February and lowers the rankings for sites deemed ‘thin’ (affiliate-based, link farms, those with too much mirrored content). According to Google, this impacts 11.8% of queries.
Though we’ve yet to see the function rolled out in the UK, US Google users can now ‘block’ sites they consider to be of little value and in so doing, reduce a site’s rankings.
Without clarity on the algorithm, it is still unclear how UK sites are already caught up in the cross-fire; though Searchmetrics analysis indicates that the impact on a number of UK sites is both intuitive and surprising in equal measures.
While online newspapers such as The Independent, The Metro and The Mirror have all improved in rankings – unsurprising given their rich and frequent content – influential tech and gadget sites such as Zath, Pocket Lint and Electric Pig have significantly dropped in rankings.
Our sources tell us that some of the sites reported to have dropped in rankings are also seeing their traffic plummet as, one can only assume, a direct result.
It already looks like rich-content sites, which built influence through SEO link-building are now becoming the victims. Google itself, acknowledges this, by stating on Google webmaster central that if anyone “knows of a high quality site that has been negatively affected by this change, please bring it to our attention in this thread.” To-date the post has received 1620 replies.
It’s easy to see SEO and content as a chicken-and-egg dilemma, but if the latest Google update highlights anything, it’s the necessity to make creating rich content priority number one.