Google Panda has been the bane or boon of every serious blogger and SEO professional, provided they can remember the difference between bane and boon (bane = bad; boon = good). While most regular bloggers and web people were unaffected, it was the power SEO users (and spammers) who were greatly affected by the changes. Many of the professionals saw their analytics and search engine rankings plummet after Panda was introduced.
Several days ago, Google’s newest algorithm update, 3.3 (codename: goddammit so much!), has given us 40 new changes for the month, ranging from improved local search results to improving SafeSearch results to tweaking the Turkish weather results.
Some of the major developments that affect us as bloggers — Turkish weather results notwithstanding — are:
- Improvements to freshness: We’ve applied new signals which help us surface fresh content in our results even more quickly than before.
- Consolidation of signals for spiking topics: We use a number of signals to detect when a new topic is spiking in popularity. This change consolidates some of the signals so we can rely on signals we can compute in realtime, rather than signals that need to be processed offline. This eliminates redundancy in our systems and helps to ensure we can continue to detect spiking topics as quickly as possible.
- Improved local results: We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.
- Link evaluation: We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.
(Note: these are just four of the 40. I borrowed their descriptions, and you will have to look through the entire list to find them. The one on Link Evaluation is near the bottom.)
Some basic implications I can see right off the bat:
- Freshness = regular updates. Once a week is barely going to be enough to move the needle. You may need to publish 2 – 3 times a week.
- Spiking topics means if you can stay on top of, and write about, trends the day they happen, that would help you be a big part of the conversation. Read David Meerman Scott’s ebook Newsjacking (affiliate link) for more information on how to that.
- If you have any kind of local focus, start writing about your city and naming it when you can. Taht tells Google your content is locally specific.
- Don’t knock yourself out on linking strategies. It’s important, but it’s a whooooole lot less important than it was two years ago.
This last improvement is what has a lot of people worried. We don’t know what exactly the link analysis was (Google never tells), whether it affects backlinks by shutting them down completely, turns of title tags within links, or whether they’re going to send a flaming bag of dog poo to your house if your anchor text and <H1> title tag don’t match. But you can be sure that a lot of SEO pros will be checking it out.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss five ways these four changes will (or should) affect your blog.
Photo credit: jlantzy (Flickr)