As you may already be aware, two major updates were rolled out this week by Google. We’ve put together a summary to help you understand these updates and how they could affect your website and the world of SEO.
The Payday Loan update is relatively new, and was introduced in June last year. It aims to target “spammy queries” (search terms) which tend to be associated with webspam. This is completely unrelated to other updates such as Panda and Penguin . The update was rolled out over the past weekend (May 16th), and there was a large degree of fluctuation for “spammy queries” around that date. In a nutshell, anyone targeting search terms related to “payday loans”, pornographic or heavily spammed queries could have been impacted by this update.
It’s estimated to have impacted roughly 0.3% of English queries. In comparison, the original Panda update affected 12% of English queries.
Announced this week was a roll out of the latest Panda update and the release of version 4.0. The Panda update was originally released in February 2011 with the aim being to reduce the rank of low quality websites. This was the first opportunity Google had to dig deeper into website performance. Whilst the common consensus (and experience) is that Panda deals with ad heavy sites, duplicate content, and general website quality, it’s more than likely that usability metrics such as bounce rates have been factored in. Since Panda’s introduction Google have rolled out monthly refreshes to the search index causing the impact to be less noticeable to the untrained eye.
In this instance, instead of a monthly data refresh this appears to be a large update to the actual algorithm whereby changes might have been made to how Panda evaluates websites. There has even been talk about this paticular update being a bit softer towards small businesses to help them perform in the search engine results page.
With this update it’s estimated that 7.5% of English queries have been affected and there have been some clear winners and losers already. It seems that eBay and Ask.com have been most impacted by this update, and have seen their search performance drop for a large number of queries.
So what does this mean?
Assuming you’re not targeting any particularly “spammy” search queries and are maintaining your site well (for users and search engines) you should have nothing to worry about. Whilst it may seem that talk is often about “Google penalties”, really these updates represent “Google rewards” for those of you doing a good job.