Many webmasters are still rebuilding in the aftermath of this summer’s Google updates. Panda and Penguin dethroned thousands of websites from the top rankings they achieved, including quite a few reputable sites that were known for providing useful content.
Are the updates over? Since the last post on the Google zoo in late June, website owners have continued to experience changes in their search engine placement, including improvements as well as falls. Penguin has only seen one update during this time period, but five Panda updates have been released along with a few algorithm adjustments.
July and August Updates
It was a relatively quiet summer with many website owners trying to completely rebuild their sites and recover their pre-zoo status. Panda 3.8 went out on June 25th with very little impact, followed by the insignificant 3.9 refresh on July 24th. August wasn’t too active either, although there were a few bigger changes in SERPs around mid-August that limited certain search terms to just seven results per page rather than the traditional ten. Panda 3.9.1 was released on August 20th, but didn’t create too many changes.
Google Updates in September
The change of the seasons brought along some more noticeable changes in search rankings. September was a busy month for Google, particularly the latter part of the month. It started with moderate fluctuations around the 18th, following the release of Panda 3.9.2 which was just a simple data refresh. Two updates were rolled out a few days later on the 27th, the most recent Panda update, dubbed Panda 20, and an Exact-Match Domain (EMD) update. Between the two, over 3% of search queries were affected, making it a rather major update.
EMD or Panda 20?
With updates are released almost simultaneously like these two were, it can be very difficult to pinpoint the reason your site was hit. The EMD update was created to target low quality sites with exact-match domains, but as noted before, this isn’t always the case with some of Google’s updates. Both updates aimed to penalize sites that were overly optimized or failed to provide valuable, relative content, but the exact details of Panda 20 are still not public info. This update has caused quite a few surprises, particularly in the SEO industry.
The Best Strategy for Recovery
With so much confusion still surrounding the latest changes in Google’s algorithms, many experts aren’t sure what advice to offer to webmasters that were hit with this release. Google’s guidelines have always recommended focusing on the reader, and their goal is to create a robot that is capable of mimicking the actual human surfing experience. With this in mind, the best way to continuously succeed is to turn your attention away from keywords and SEO. Your time and energy will be best spent on publishing high quality content and effectively marketing it to your audience.
There’s no word on when website owners can expect the next Panda update, but Penguin 3 was released on October 5th with very little impact. A more substantial Penguin update may be in the not-too-distant future.