Google has been updating the way it shows searches since its inception, but some recent updates affected businesses that were very dependent on organic traffic and that is why many of you have been earing about Google SERPs updates.
Currently there is so much noise "out there" it's hard to understand what are the changes with each update and how these might affect you. This is why I decided to write a post to explain what are these updates about, who they affect and how can people recover if they have seen a decrease in their website's traffic. Feel free to tweet me with any specific questions.
Panda Update (User experience)
- Date First released: Feb 2011
- What it does: Detects/penalizes duplicate/bad content that delivers poor user experience.
- Main Target: Content farms, scrapers, copyright infringers, websites with too much advertisement, etc..
- Impacts: 12% of all search results.
- How to Recover: Removed/block or rewrite duplicate/bad content pages. Indicate canonical redirects. Check for broken-links, page speed, grammar and spelling, rich snippet implementation. See other high quality site guidelines.
Penguin Update (Spam)
- Date first released: Apr 2012
- What it does: Detects/penalizes pages manipulating number of backlinks. If you come across illegal tactics you can also report webspam.
- Main Target: "Unnatural" link building, link networks, link wheels, paid links, guest blogs, doorway websites, optimized anchor text, link schemes, etc..
- Impact: Approximately 3.1% of search results in English (3% German/Chinese/Arabic and more for other highly spammed languages). You might need to check your webmaster tools to see if you have any messages.
- How to Recover: Go through webmaster tools manual actions. Remove all unnatural links to your site. Advanced users can use the disavow tool to submit a backlinks file you want to disavow (be aware that it will take time to see improvement.. weeks or months).
If you feel you were unfairly affected use the Google's feedback form. You can also submit a reconsideration request.
Hummingbird Update (Conversational)
- Date: Sept 2013
- What it does: Makes search "more human". Considers the full context of a sentence instead of just the keywords in it. Enables authorship and publishers for people and businesses to become trusted entities. For a more indepth analysis see this Google's Hummingbird update explained by link assistant.
- Main Target: Spammy and irrelevant content websites over optimized for certain keywords.
- Impact: 90% of queries (according to Moz).
- How to Recover: Removed/block or rewrite bad content pages. Adapt keyword strategy for more conversational terms. Increase domain authority. Start using page/publisher authorship and strive for co-citation.
You might also want to read:
- Google Algorithm change history
- When will google stop updating its SERPs
- Google Panda Update Wikipedia
- Google Penguin Update Wikipedia
- Google Webmaster Guidelines
- Google Hummingbird update
- Moz on Hummingbird update