Google’s love of tweaking its search algorithms shows no signs of slowing down, as it was revealed late last week that an update for Panda was quietly being rolled out, according to Search Engine, Roundtable.
After webmasters started commenting on some changes they had noticed, Google was reached out to and was kind enough to release a statement to Search Engine Land, which confirmed the rumours and speculation.
In the statement, it said that the Panda update had been implemented to add a few new ranking signals, with the intention of making sure that search results are more finely targeted and filtered than ever before.
Prior to this statement, it had been assumed that Google’s updates to Panda would no longer be subject to official announcements, although apparently this time, it felt that there was good reason to ratify the suspicions of site owners and come clean about what could be a relatively significant change to the algorithm.
The good news for webmasters is that this round of Panda modifications seems to have been intended to make the algorithm a little more lenient, which is a welcome change, given how hard it hit some sites in its original form.
WebProNews points to an older Webmaster Help video published by Google’s Matt Cutts earlier in the year, during which he implied that Panda’s aggressiveness would be dialled back this summer.
He said that there were still many sites that exist in a hinterland between what is deemed to be acceptable and unacceptable, based on current ranking signals. This made it possible for certain pages to be penalised by the algorithms, even if they were not necessarily deserving of such treatment.
Google is attempting to eliminate the grey areas in Panda and add more signals, so that it can assess the quality of a site with a greater degree of accuracy.
If this does end up helping some of the sites that had been negatively affected by this particular algorithm, then it is obviously a step in the right direction.
The full implications from the point of view of SEO may not be apparent for some time, although experts will be tirelessly attempting to work out what new ranking signals have been added in the latest Panda update.
Google is unlikely to break out a full lowdown of the changes that have been made itself, so it is up to webmasters to assess the scope of the impact that Panda now has.
It will be interesting to see whether Google’s original pledge, to keep quiet about subsequent Panda augmentations, which was broken this month, will come back into force further down the line, when the inevitable future alterations are enacted.
Giving webmasters a heads-up about algorithm updates seems like a courtesy that Google owes to sites, even if it does not provide any guidance on how to best optimise in order to take advantage of the changes. But while the search giant’s mantra decries evilness, it does not say anything about having to be polite.