While the original Panda update received its share of headlines, it is important to remember that Google tweaks its algorithm as many as several hundred times per year. Even Panda has had several incarnations since it was first released in early 2011. A new twist in the algorithm has been issued, and it seems to give priority to videos. As this change comes at a time when Google is facing antitrust battles in the United States, as well in Europe, critics are wondering if the changes favor Google’s own products over competitors.
While the search giant confirmed the changes, they did not provide details. A spokesperson said, “We’re continuing to iterate on our Panda algorithm as part of our commitment to returning high-quality sites to Google users. This most recent update is one of the roughly 500 changes we make to our ranking algorithms each year.” Webmasters and business owners observe that while original content is still favored, it seems that video content gives sites a boost in the SERPs. Not surprisingly, this has led to increases in traffic to sites including YouTube, Hulu, MTV.com, Android.com, and US network sites ABC, NBC, and CBS.
An article on the update in Search Engine Watch noted: “While it may never be known if Google was looking for ways to push their own sites before the fact, there is no doubt this update helped them.”
And there is more to come. Matt Cutts tweeted on October 5, “Weather report: expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks, but will have less impact than previous updates (~2%).”
What does this mean for sites that are still optimizing to regain ranking lost after the initial update? And what does it mean for sites that do not want to see their names disappear from the SERPs? Cutts is right: this is a weather report. It could rain on you, or it could be sunny. You cannot control what Google does, but you do have control over your content. Focus on original, unique, and engaging content – whether textual or graphic – and work to make your site appealing to visitors. Ultimately, this will be effective in weathering Google’s changes.