One of the best ways to plan for online success in the coming year is too look back at many of thealgorithm changes that Google has made and the effects they will have on blogging in 2012. This year has seen well over 500 algorithm modifications, primarily coming from the Panda and Freshness updates. During this period of time, Matt Cutts and fellow Google folk did their best to help a lot of webmasters understand the implications of the various patches and updates that they have uploaded.
But quite frankly, many small internet marketers and niche websites got hit pretty badly. After Google’s Panda updates were first applied, many bloggers lost thousands of visitors per month and often dropped out of first page results that had netted them steady organic traffic. This is not something you want to be caught up in again, so make sure your blog is getting the time and effort it needs to boast user worthy content and see increased traffic from Google next year.
Main Reasons for Lost Google Rankings in 2011:
- Duplicate, scraped, or copied content – Panda hit this hard and does a great job of identifying “spun content” through N-grams and other techniques.
- High outbound links – link farms and sites associated with them got devalued a lot, if you had a lot of backlinks coming from these sources you may have been penalized.
- Stale content – the Freshness algorithm demands regular updates in 35% of keywords, depending on your market and online competition, you may want to add new content on a weekly or daily basis.
- Low content volumes – Matt Cutts has said that Panda also targets websites that have very low user worthy content, it is recommended that you update any pages/posts on your site that do not have competitive quality. (i.e. most posts should be 300+ words, a 50 word post could hurt your sites overall integrity)
Many people vilify the Panda update because it was such a problem for their own personal sites. The idea behind changes like Panda, are to improve the search results for Google users. Duplicate content and blogs that offer no value should never rank well in the SERP’s. Blogs that were affected by the update were usually low quality affairs that never deserved first page rankings to begin with. Many of these sites relied on backlinks from article databases to rank well. One of the side effects of removing scraped and duplicate content was the de-valuing of these link sources. Blogs that did not have strong link diversity suffered the most. Article marketing was a very popular method to get strong search results fast. Unfortunately, many bloggers relied on this technique for a majority of their backlinks. After the Panda update bloggers who used article marketing as the backbone of their backlink profiles dropped sharply in the rankings.
Panda Algorithm Overview:
- Major penalties for duplicate content.
- Content quantity and quality is more important than ever.
- Black hat techniques penalized – keyword stuffing, shady redirects, spammy meta data, and others will only hurt your rankings.
- Article databases lost link value due to low quality duplicate content.
Freshness Algorithm Overview:
- Caffeine indexing – will be placing more weight on newest results and information.
- Will affect 35% or more of keywords.
- Will affect less than 35% of search results. (some keywords receive the same search results)
- Helps authority and large publishing sites due to it being more difficult for small internet marketers and bloggers to keep up consistent updates and content releases.
- Daily online activity is more important than ever; ie. Posting, commenting, tweeting, etc.
The Freshness update can thank the Caffeine indexing system for allowing new content to be crawled indexed, and displayed. The new system allows Google to crawl and index fresh information at speeds that were not possible before its development. This innovation could not have come at a better time. Users demand the freshest and most relevant search results as possible. Google thankfully had the tools available to provide this exact service.
Search terms that are time sensitive are now identified by the algorithm even if the notion of time sensitivity is implied. For instance if a user searches for “war in Afghanistan”, in all likelihood they want the most up to date information. Not news results from the 80’s, when the USSR occupied the territory. Google wants to provide this seamless search functionality for their users. People don’t even realize that the search engine is interpreting their request in order to provide the best results possible. Even though the Freshness update affected only 35% of keywords, it has changed the way Google looks at blogs forever.
How does Google see blogging currently?
Blogging has become very popular and 100’s of millions of bloggers write posts on a weekly basis. This is a lot of information for Google to crawl and index on a regular basis, but with the advent of Caffeine, they are now able to do exactly that. Google can crawl and index blog posts only moments after they are written. Even the information in the comments section is crawled and indexed now. The more information that Google has regarding your blog, the better they can associate it with specific search terms.
Blogs must make regular updates if they are to remain relevant in the search results. Quality and consistency are two features Google is always looking for and a great way to display them is through the daily release of unique, well written content.
- Must make weekly blog posts to remain current for Google search results.
- Only write quality, unique content that is related to the blog subject matter.
- Relevancy matters, many paid for services post random articles on blogs for paid links, these are usually not related to the blog subject matter. This is a spam indicator. Avoid this at all costs.
Blogging in 2012 post Panda
Google has made around 500 algorithm changes and adjustments throughout 2011. The majority of them have been done to improve the search results that Google provides. Some of the changes have crippled bloggers that were able to make a living with their blogs. But they probably did not provide users with anything of value or participated in black hat link building techniques. In any case, most bloggers should be extremely happy with the changes that Google has completed. Blogs are ranking for thousands of high traffic keywords and are among some of the most visited websites in the world. The Freshness update has only solidified the relevancy of blogs in the search results and offers more opportunity for bloggers to be found in 2012.