Algorithm updates and more!
It seems like it has been a long time since the SEO industry was in a panic over the latest massive update from Google. There was all of the drama surrounding the inaptly named ‘mobilegeddon’ update this time last year. Ultimately that proved to be less of a big deal than the doom saying indicated, largely because Google had been warning people about it for years and most people listened. But why hasn’t there been any huge news since that anticlimax?
For starters, Google have said a few times that moving forward they will prefer multiple smaller updates over a single update with large scale effects. Hopefully gone are the day’s large parts of the SEO industry shook in terror awaiting the latest version of the Penguin algorithm. But it’s also starting to appear as though Google is happier with the way things are running.
With the Google RankBrain now in full force, which is what Google are calling their own artificial intelligence (A.I.) system to monitor and observe search results, the folks over at Google are clearly happy to let the software learn for itself (to an extent) which allows for a much larger organic shift in rankings. One thing to take note of though is that RankBrain is not a new algorithm. Rather, it’s an alteration to the Hummingbird algorithm. The other big news on this front is that Google have made Panda part of the core algorithm. Google Panda aims to evaluate the quality of a website according to various factors and then increase or decrease its position in the organic Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) accordingly. Since its release in 2011 it has been a separate algorithm, allowing Google to make Panda updates separately to the core algorithm.
Keeping Panda separate was required due to the amount of ongoing changes Google was making to it in order to get it right. Now that they have admitted that it is part of the core algorithm (which they did sometime late last year without telling anyone) that’s a strong sign that Google are pretty happy with the way Panda operates and feel they won’t need to make that many changes in the near future. Great news for webmasters and those of us in SEO, but the lack of doomsaying doesn’t make for exciting news.
What is exciting are the upcoming changes to Google Penguin, another Google algorithm that is aimed at penalising sites engaging in Black-Hat SEO tactics and link spam. The last Penguin update occurred in October, 2014. The term ‘Black Hat’ refers to something that is outside the guidelines or rules of a particular system, such as the manipulation of search engines like Google. Getting involved in dodgy practices means that you run the risk of being caught and could destroy not only your brand’s reputation, but your hard earned organic rankings as well. According to Google they will be making Penguin a real-time algorithm meaning you will get penalised as soon as the algorithm detects the black hat activity. The door swings both ways though and it means for those who have been negatively affected they may be able to recover their good rankings very quickly if they fix the issues Penguin detected.
To leave you with some food for thought, A.I. is likely to become much more prevalent in the way search results are delivered than ever before. John Giannandrea, Google’s new Search Chief, previously headed up Google’s A.I. division. In his new role, we can expect to see a greater A.I. influence, so watch this space. All of this adds up to Google being more sophisticated and flexible than ever before which helps businesses and online marketing agencies to just get on with things rather than dwelling on the drama and/or fear. Not as interesting for the headlines but a much better time to be doing SEO.
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