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Google is in the process of rolling out a significant update to its broad search engine algorithm which appears to be having a big impact on search results.

The company announced the update on June 2nd, the day before the update began rolling out. This raised some eyebrows at the time because Google generally doesn’t update the public about algorithm updates beforehand, if at all.

As Danny Sullivan from Google explained recently, the only reason they decided to talk about the update is that it would be “definitely noticeable.”

While the update is seemingly still rolling out, the early indications are that the effects of this update certainly are noticeable and could have a big impact on your site’s performance.

What Does This Mean For You?

Unfortunately, Google is never too keen to go into the specifics of their algorithm updates and it is too early to definitively tell what the algorithm update has changed.

All that is clear from reports around the web is that the algorithm update has caused a seemingly dramatic shift for sites previously affected by Google algorithm updates. Some are reporting massive recoveries and improved traffic, while others are saying their rankings have tanked over the past week.

What Does Google Say To Do?

Oddly enough, Google has provided a little bit of guidance with this latest update, though it may not be what you want to here.

The company says to essentially do nothing because there is nothing to “fix.”

Some experts within Google has also suggested results may normalize somewhat in the coming weeks as the search engine releases further tweaks and updates.

In the meantime, the best course of action is to monitor your website analytics and watch Google Search Console for notifications or big changes.

If you do see a major shakeup, you might watch to see if it recovers within the coming days or conduct an assessment of your site to evaluate what your site can do better for both search engines and potential customers.

Panda

Over the past 2 days, the SEO community has received confirmation that Google is rolling out not one, but two web spam focused algorithm updates; Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0. Panda 4.0 was confirmed by Matt Cutts on Twitter, while Search Engine Land initially announced the newest Payday Loan update which was later verified by Cutts.

As with any major algorithm update, there is much more speculation than there are facts at the moment. However we do know a little bit about the roll outs of the algorithm updates and what they are focused on.

Panda 4.0

Panda 4.0 is being called the ‘softer update’ in relation to its precursor thanks to a discussion back in March. It has been stated that the update affects different language queries to different extents, but Google estimates the effect on English searches is about 7.5% of queries.

Considering the reports of sites seeing significant recoveries, it is safe to assume this update is a little more generous and more welcomed than than the previous updates to Panda.

Payday Loan 2.0

The Payday Loan Algorithm is a bit less well known, as it was first launched last June and only targets ‘very spammy queries’; primarily the type of spammy queries associated with payday loans, insurance, and accident claims.

A Google Spokesperson issues a statement on the update, saying:

“Over the weekend we began rolling out a new algorithmic update. The update was neither Panda nor Penguin – it was the next generation of an algorithm that originally rolled out last summer for very spammy queries.”

So far estimates say only .2% of English queries were affected by this update, though this is also an international rollout affecting different languages to different extents.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Penguin 2.0 only affected 2.3% of search queries, but you would think it did much more from the response online. Ignoring all of the worrying before the release, there have been tons of comments about the first-hand effects it seems many are dealing with in the post-Penguin 2.0 web. Those spurned by the new Penguin algorithm have even accused Google of only releasing the update to increase their profitability.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, used his recent Webmaster Chat video to attack that idea head on. The main question he was asked is what aspect of Google updates Cutts thinks the SEO industry doesn’t understand. While Matt expresses concern about the amount of people who don’t get the difference between algorithm updates and data refreshes, Cutts’ main focus is the concept that Google is hurting web owners to improve their profits.

Most notably, the algorithm updates simply aren’t profitable. Google experienced decreases in their revenue from almost all their recent updates, but Cutts says that money isn’t the focus. Google is aiming at improving the quality of the internet experience, especially search. While site owners using questionable methods are upset, most searchers will hopefully feel that the updates have improved their experience, which will keep them coming back and using Google.

As far as the misunderstandings between algorithm updates and data refreshes, Cutts has expanded on the problem more elsewhere. The biggest difference is that the algorithm update changes how the system is working while data refreshes do not and only change the information the system is using or seeing.

Cutts was also asked which aspect of SEO that we are spending too much time on, which leads Cutts to one of the main practices that Penguin focuses on: link building. Too many SEOs are still putting too much faith in that single practice though it is being destabilized by other areas that more directly affect the quality of users’ experiences such as creating compelling content. Instead, Matt urges SEOs to pay more attention to design and speed, emphasizing the need to create the best web experience possible.

Cutts’ video is below, but the message is that Google is going to keep growing and evolving, whether you like it or not. If you listen to what they say and tell you about handling your SEO, you may have to give up some of your old habits but you’ll spend much less time worrying about the next algorithm update.

A recent Google Webmaster Hangout seems to have implied that Google is pushing out Penguin Updates without announcing them. Penguin has only been officially updated twice after its initial release, and the last update was in October 2012. In the video, John Meuller from Google makes it appear that Google has been updating Penguin on a regular basis but has not announced them all. The comments come at around the four minute mark in the video below.

When asked for clarification by Search Engine Land, Meuller says that he was referring to general “link analysis” refreshes, but does not include the Penguin algorithm. They also confirmed the last update was the one announced in October.

One of the reasons some questioned if Penguin was being refreshed is Panda, the update always mentioned in association with Penguin, has been updated on roughly a monthly basis. Google didn’t confirm another update is coming, but the updates have been coming steadily, and there are signs a new one should arrive in the next few days.