Google Rolls Out Panda 3.4
Google appears to be more vigilant lately. After launching Panda 3.3 last February 27, 2012, it has yet again announced a tweak on their ranking algorithm over the weekend (March 23, 2012). The announcement, which was made through an unexpected source that is Twitter, noted that:
“Panda rolling out now. Only ~1.6% of queries noticeably affected.”
The dust hasn’t settled yet from the consecutive Panda updates that many webmasters dreaded about due to their crippling impact. However, it appears that Google has no signs of stopping from targeting low-quality websites – sites that has low-value for end- users, replicate contents from other websites or those sites that are just useless – and ultimately deliver premium quality results.
Although the recent shift to 3.4 was more of a “refresh” and no new significant or algorithm changes were actually carried out, it still managed to affect some websites (1.6%), specifically those exploiting the search engine as well as those using third party link building networks. Some even reported that they were completely delisted from Google’s system, ending their business altogether.
Due to this, some people are wondering, what’s with the new Google Panda 3.4?
Only a handful seems to be making a fuss about Panda 3.4 because it is believed that the tweaks were of minor importance and were merely adjustments. These are in fact real. However, there are some specific link building signals that the recent revision is devaluing.
One of the most noticeable is that of the percentage of anchor text links. For many webmasters, frequent usage of exact-match anchor text links is the way for their websites to rank. However, this changed significantly when Panda 3.3 entered the scene, which limited the use of exact-match anchor text links to about 40%. With the revised version of the algorithm ranking, though, the ideal figure is now anywhere from 5 to 10 percent.
Another thing worth noting about Panda 3.4 is that it is beginning to hinder webmasters from manipulating Google’s search engine rankings. While Panda 3.3 already covered this, version 3.4 further boost the campaign by turning to signals coming from social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+; bookmarking sites like Stumbleupon and Delicious; as well as votes generated from social news sites like Reddit and Digg. What the tweaked Panda appears to be doing is placing sites that have been generating buzz from these social media to higher rankings, thereby leaving behind websites that are not attracting too much attention from netizens.
Not a lot is known about the major impact that Panda 3.4 could bring to the SEO community, since it is still in its infancy and Google is likely to make adjustments in the future. Hopefully, though, webmasters and SEO professionals would not have to struggle just to save their websites from such updates.
To give you more idea on the updates that Google did in its overall system for this year, the information is written below:
Panda 3.3 (February 27, 2012)
Google rolled out this “data refresh” as a means to make the said ranking algorithm more accurate and more sensitive to the changes that are taking place on the web. One of the noticeable features of this version is that it got rid of the link evaluation signal that Google used to utilize for years.
40 search quality highlights (February 27, 2012)
Google reported 40 changes in its systems for the month of February, as indicated in the “search quality highlights” they released. Some of the notable changes included multiple image-search updates, multiple freshness updates, and an update to its ranking algorithm (Panda).
Venice Update (February 27, 2012)
Google mentioned code-name “Venice” on its monthly update. Although the update had flown largely under the radar, it still managed to caught the attention of some SEO gurus. The said update is focused in improving the ranking for local search results, specifically to localize organic results and to closely include local search data.
17 search quality highlights (February 03, 2012)
Google issued the “search quality highlights” it did for the month of January, which totaled to 17 new improvements. Most of the changes gave emphasis on the speed, search preferences, freshness, and spell-checking. However, one of the major changes implemented was the tighter integration of Panda on Google’s main search index.
Major change in page layout algorithms (above-the-fold ads) (January 19, 2012)
With Google’s ongoing effort to deliver more high-quality results to end users, they updated their page layout algorithms, aimed at devaluing websites that have too many advertisements beyond the “fold” or sites that dedicate a large portion of their screen’s real estate to advertisements.
Panda 3.2 (January 18, 2012)
Google confirmed that they updated their Panda algorithm to 3.2, though they claimed that no major changes occurred. It was not clear how this update fared up with the other updates that Google did in the past. However, some webmasters reported that they lost rankings, while others said they regained their traffic levels.
Search + Your world (January 10, 2012)
To further provide better results that end users receive, Google announced the shift to a more personalized level of searching. More than just understanding content, they also pushed for transforming the way end users socialize through the introduction of three distinct features: personal results; profiles in search; and people and pages, which make up the Search plus Your World update.
30 search quality highlights (January 05, 2012)
Google announced 30 changes that happened in its systems for the month of December. The said changes included image search landing-page quality detection, more relevant site links, soft 404 detection, more rich snippets and improvements in related query just to name a few.
The article was written by Robert Kirk who runs a Website Design and Search Engine Optimisation company in Scotland, UK.