One of Google’s lead algorithm developers, Matt Cutts has officially released a statement that there will be yet another update to the Google Panda algorithm. According to Cutts, this update, or “refresh”, should happen no later than March 18, 2013. As with most of the recent updates to Panda and Penguin, the refresh will likely affect somewhere between 1% and 2% of total search queries. However, this last period of time between Panda updates has been the longest in the two year duration of the algorithm’s life. The last refresh happened around Christmas, so there is a chance that the impact will be larger due to the longer time between updates.
What can you do?
While you may not be able to predict exactly how this Panda Update will affect your site, there are some measures you can take right now:
Pay close attention to your data
Watch your traffic and rank data in google analytics closely over the next week or so. Any surge or plunge in numbers will likely be from the Panda update. If you see term ranks dropping that match lots of targeted anchor text links – you know that’s what google doesn’t like. If you see a drop in traffic to pages that are linked from extremely irrelevant website, that will also likely be a culprit of the update’s scouring eye.
Understand after the fact
As more experts watch the results of this update over the next couple weeks, a clearer understanding of the exact ramifications will develop. This article is more of a “warning” or “news flash” – the real analysis is will come later. As you watch your own rank and traffic data, continue searching for expert analysis to confirm what you think you’ve noticed. It’s probably not in your best interest to make any drastic change to your strategy without some key evidence confirming your suspicions.
Penguin is Next
While the Panda update will happen first, Mr. Cutts also revealed that a major Google Penguin update is also on the horizon this year. According to Cutts, this Penguin refresh will be one of the most buzz worthy of the entire year, so you can expect this will affect more than the typical 1% of traffic. There’s some buzz that this update is going to be a heavy hit to online merchants that practice poor SEO tactics, or misrepresent themselves across the web – so if that represents your site, you might want to take a look at your strategy.
Google Updates in General
As google continues to push toward their ultimate mission of returning the most accurate search results possible, there’s going to be update after update. This only solidifies the fact that SEO is an ongoing art form – and not something you “fix” and move on from. The good news Is, if you’re optimizing your SEO with quality strategies like building usable content and working with other sites in your industry that have strong relevancy – you probably have little to worry about. The two greatest things you can do to avoid “google pain” for your website is to 1) avoid stagnancy among your content, and 2) avoid black hat SEO strategy (paid linking, irrelevant links, etc.) A complete list of google updates will give you an idea of the average time span between the smaller refreshes, and larger updates. Pay attention to sudden dips and surges in your own site’s traffic, and try to follow up with any updates that may have affected it. If you do this regularly, you’ll have nothing to worry about.