The past eighteen months at Google have been a time of dynamic change, whether it was the unveiling of the popular Google+ social networking service or the complete revision of how Google handles search engine optimization, keywords, and websites which are looking to improve their page rank in the company’s internet-leading search results. The two biggest changes to how Google does business have come in the form of major algorithm changes known first as Google Panda, in 2011, and later as Google Penguin, in the spring of 2012. Websites will need to likely make some sweeping changes to cater to these new algorithms and ensure that their content remains top-notch, and top-ranked, at the world’s most popular search engine websites.
Google Panda: A Look at Google’s Biggest Search Result Algorithm Change in Years Website owners had long catered specifically to Google’s methodology of ranking websites in its search engine results, and this resulted in a large number of websites that practically built themselves from the ground-up on northing but keywords. That might be fine, in limited cases, but the team at Google noticed that most of these websites were full of so-called “keyword spam.” This is defined as highly repetitive keywords which add absolutely no value to the written content of a website and serve only to trick Google into ranking the page highly based strictly on keyword density.
As the problem deepened, most search engine users who relied on Google for quality content were finding that they would increasingly be led to a site which offered them no information, no authority, and no improved understanding of the topic which they were hoping to learn about with their relevant Google search term. This caused a “trust gap” between the end user and the results Google would return based on a keyword search, and it began to make searching for content relatively useless in many cases.
Google Panda was unleashed in 2011 to blunt the spread of keyword spam, and it began to focus specifically on websites which had sensible content, well-reasoned blog posts, and used keywords in ways that were semantically appropriate within typical sentence structure. Websites were rewarded for their perceived authority, and the “freshness” of brand new content resulted in a noticeable improvement in the site’s ranking. Google Panda was made intelligent enough to discern the nature of a site’s content, emphasizing those sites which consistently came up with new posts and ideas while relegating sites with excessive keyword usage to the “back of the line” in most cases.
Google Penguin: The Successor to the Panda Which Changed Everything With keyword spam mostly a thing of the past after the release and implementation of the Google Panda algorithm in 2011, Google next turned its focus toward those websites which tried to boost their search engine rankings with linked keywords to either irrelevant sites or nonexistent websites altogether. There was a time when Google actually rewarded sites for placing a number of links throughout content and sidebar areas in a typical design but this, too, was soon abused by more nefarious website owners throughout the world. Once again, the company set out to elevate the quality of the content returned on the first page of search results and to help restore consumer confidence in the pages they’d inevitably be invited to click after performing a search.
This culminated in the release of yet another algorithm change in April of 2012, this time given the name of Google Penguin. The change implemented by Google Penguin specifically punished website operators with excessive links or a large number of links to irrelevant or missing websites. It also began to take into account the placement of advertisements on a given website, with excessive incidences of above-the-fold advertising causing a page to drop further behind in its Google page rank.
Overal, Google Penguin was a much more design-based change to the Google ranking system, as it began looking through XHTMl advertising and linking elements to determine whether a website was reputable or simply setup to generate as much revenue as possible without helping consumers in the process. This has led to a discernible change in the value of content which is displayed in Google’s first search result pages, and it almost certainly will lead to an increase in consumer trust in the next few months as the changes become more obvious and returned websites become higher in value and reputation.
Google is Now in the Reputation Business Before the release of both Google Penguin and Google Panda, the search giant was large in the business of evaluating keywords. That has all changed, and the world’s leader in internet searches is now focused squarely on the value of a website’s content, its reputation among visitors, and what it can offer in terms of helpful content in addition to links and important keywords.