At a recent Search Engine conference, Google’s Matt Cutts, head of search spam, announced that although Panda algorithm changes were no longer being announced, Panda is still being updated on a monthly basis, with most updates being rolled out over 10 days each month.
These rolling updates seem to be causing havoc amongst search engine results, although the reduced communication from Google is making it unclear whether recent drops are part of ongoing Panda updates, or whether they’re part of the new Penguin update, which Google launched at the end of last month.
Broad-Based Ranking Drops
Whatever the name of the update, it’s fairly clear that recent changes to Google’s ranking algorithms are causing drops across the board, with large numbers of sites being hit.
Webmasters from around the world are commenting on drops in both rankings and website traffic, and the comments about the latest updates are not complimentary.
Confusion Over Google Updates
Another factor that’s contributing to the anguish of the webmasters is the fact that Google is steadily becoming less and less communicative about the changes they’re making.
Although they provide a very basic outline, saying, for example, that they’re looking at spam-like queries, or that their link analysis will become more sophisticated, or that they will try and identify site authority in determining rankings, but they don’t tell anybody what they’ll be looking for, or at.
Google’s Latest Announcement
In the middle of last month, Matt Cutts announced several upcoming changes to Google’s SEO policies over “the next few months” which you can see here: Upcoming Google Changes
However, as already mentioned, while comprehensive in the generalities, the specifics are (perhaps understandably) rather short. And it’s the lack of information that is really bothering people.
The vast majority of complaints about the latest updates seem to stem from the fact that nobody can work out what is causing them.
Rankings and traffic are falling for sites carefully following Google’s own best practice guidelines, and with no information, and no recourse, there’s nothing that site owners or agencies can do except wait for the latest updates to shake out, and begin re-analysing their strategies.
Speculation so far ranges from Google making mistakes in these latest changes to the algorithms, to a deliberate move on the part of Google to try and push people away from SEO, and towards Google Ads, their paid advertising platform.
In the meanwhile, all any of us can do is wait for the results to settle down, and start trying to find out what changed, what works, and what Google has thrown out.