Quick Review of Google’s Major Rank-Affecting changes Since April, 2012
We have listed the major algorithmic changes that made the biggest impacts on search. Understanding these updates can help with search engine optimization.
Panda 3.5 — April 19, 2012:
Panda 3.5, like all Panda updates, was to improve the quality of the results Google shows. If you have lots of duplicate, or ‘thin’ (i.e, not very good) content, you may have been affected.
Penguin-1.0 – April 24, 2012
After weeks of speculation about an “Over-optimization penalty”, Google finally rolled out the “Web Spam Update”, which was soon after dubbed “Penguin.” It was a change to Google’s search results that was designed to punish pages that have been spamming Google. If you’re not familiar with spam, it’s when people do things like “keyword stuffing” or “cloaking” that violate Google’s guidelines. Penguin adjusted a number of spam factors, including keyword stuffing, and impacted an estimated 3.1% of English queries.
Panda 3.6 — April 27, 2012
As per Google confirmation they refreshed the Panda update on the 27th, continuing to iterate on the Panda algorithm as part of returning high-quality sites to Google users. But it was a limited update not affecting that many sites.
April 52 Google Updates-Pack — May 4, 2012
Google published details of 52 updates in April, including changes that were tied to the “Penguin” update. Other highlights included a 15% larger “base” index, improved pagination handling, and a number of updates to site links. The most important out of these were:
• Anchors Bug Fix: This change fixed a bug related to our handling of anchors.
• Keyword Stuffing Classifier Improvement: This change made the keyword stuffing classifier (to detect when a website is keyword stuffing)better.
• More Authoritative Results: to surface more authoritative content.
• Improvement in A Freshness Signal: This change is a minor improvement to one of the freshness signals which helps to better identify fresh documents.
• No Freshness Boost for Low-Quality Content: Modified a classifier we use to promote fresh content to exclude fresh content identified as particularly low-quality.
• Improvements to How Search Terms Are Scored In Ranking: One of the most fundamental signals used in search is whether and how your search terms appear on the pages you’re searching. This change improves the way those terms are scored.
Knowledge Graph — May 16, 2012
Google’s “Knowledge Graph”, is a SERP -integrated display providing supplemental object about certain people, places, and things. The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query.
Penguin 1.1 — May 25, 2012
Google rolled out its first targeted data update after the “Penguin” algorithm update. This confirmed that Penguin data was being processed outside of the main search index, much like Panda data. It was “data refresh” that impacted less than one-tenth of a percent of English-language searches.
May 39-Pack — June 7, 2012
Google released their monthly Search Highlights, with 39 updates in May. Major changes included Penguin improvements, better link-scheme detection, changes to title/snippet rewriting, and updates to Google News. The most important out of these were:
• Inorganic Back links:It was designed to detect a variety of link schemes, a common spam technique. This change ensures we’re using those signals appropriately in the rest of our ranking.
• Page Titles: Google lists three changes in May related to how it displays page titles
>Trigger alt title when HTML title is truncated
>Efficiency improvements in alternative title generation
>Better demotion of boilerplate anchors in alternate title generation
• Freshness: the four freshness-related changes announced by Google:
>Better detection of major new events
>Smoother ranking functions for freshness
>Better detection of searches looking for fresh content.
Panda 3.7 — June 8, 2012
Google rolled out yet another Panda data update, claiming that less than 1% of queries were affected in the U.S. & 1% worldwide. Ranking fluctuation data suggested that the impact was substantially higher than previous Panda updates (3.5, 3.6).
Panda 3.8 — June 25, 2012
Google rolled out another Panda data refresh, but this appeared to be data only (no algorithm changes) and had a much smaller impact than Panda 3.7. This update “noticeably affected only ~1% of queries worldwide”
Link Warnings — July 19, 2012
In a repeat of March/April, Google sent out a large number of unnatural link warnings via Google Webmaster Tools. In a complete turn-around, they then announced that these new warnings may not actually represent a serious problem.
Panda 3.9 — July 24, 2012
A month after Panda 3.8, Google rolled out a new Panda update. Rankings fluctuated for 5-6 days, although no single day was high enough to stand out. Google claimed ~1% of queries were impacted.
June/July 86-Pack — August 10, 2012
After a summer hiatus, the June and July Search Quality Highlights were rolled out in one mega-post. Major updates included Panda data and algorithm refreshes, an improved rank-ordering function (?), a ranking boost for “trusted sources”, and changes to site clustering. These were mostly related to Site Clustering, Page Quality & Site link Changes
DMCA Penalty — August 10, 2012
Google announced that they would start penalizing sites with repeat copyright violations, probably via DMCA take down requests. Timing was stated as “starting next week” (8/13?).
Thank you for reading. Will keep posting latest Google updates.