The new year is barely two weeks old and things are already heating up in the world of SEO. Google has big things planned for 2016 and has already announced some upcoming changes, and a few that have already happened since the ball dropped on New Years Day. The article will highlight some of the changes SEO marketers should be paying attention to.
Over the past couple of weeks, webmasters may have noticed a change in the traffic coming to their site. While it’s easy to chalk up any changes in visitor behavior to the holidays, it turns out that what we were seeing were new algorithm updates going into effect.
Earlier this week, several executives from Google confirmed that the world’s most popular search engine had a major core algorithm update recently.
“I asked Google for confirmation, and on Twitter they confirmed it was a core ranking algorithm update,” wrote Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land. “Google rarely confirms core algorithm updates. They did confirm one back in May 2015 for us, but it is rare that they confirm these. So it is a big thing for Google to go on record that this update webmasters were seeing was related to the core update.
Besides the confirmation, Google has been predictably quiet about the details of the update. However, by paying attention to some recently made changes to webmaster guidelines, we know that one of the changes was for Google to make Google Panda a part of the core search algorithm.
Google Panda is the set of algorithms Google uses to measure the quality of websites and the content they index. Essentially, Google Panda can adjust search rankings based on quality. Additionally, Google Panda can find content spam and identify black hat SEO tactics.
In an online guide for Google that was vetted by the Google PR team, Jennifer Slegg made the comment that Panda was now part of the core algorithm.
“Panda is an algorithm that’s applied to sites overall and has become one of our core ranking signals,” she wrote in the Panda guide. “It measures the quality of a site, which you can read more about in our guidelines. Panda allows Google to take quality into account and adjust ranking accordingly.”
The authenticity of this statement was later confirmed by Google in requests to media outlets. The reason the change is noteworthy is two fold. First, as was mentioned at the start, the change to the core algorithm has lead to some position shuffling and changes in web traffic for website owners in 2016.
Second, a perhaps more importantly, is what this update isn’t. Many SEO marketers assumed the fluctuations they were seeing were the result of an upcoming Penguin update. That update hasn’t happened yet, and is still planned for the near future. So while this change is big, even larger things are coming down the line at a Google.
For more news about SEO and changes at Google, read this ad about Google’s policy about mobile app ads on mobile sites.