January 18, 2016

How Does the Latest Google Core Algorithm Update Change Your SEO Game Plan?

latest google update

Did you notice any changes in the ranking of your website? In the last few days, webmasters and SEO specialists spotted some significant changes in Google search results. Most were left scratching their heads thinking exactly what caused this. To ease some of the confusion and to put their mind to rest, Google officials John Mueller, Gary Illeyes and Zineb Ait Bahajji, revealed that the search engine giant has released a core algorithm update over the last weekend.

This is one of the rare occasions when Google has confirmed the release of a core update. If you were preparing for the release of the next Penguin update, you would have to wait a little longer for that. Experts believe that the Penguin update will hit later this month. Therefore, changes that you may have spotted over the past week were not the result of a Penguin-related update. Rather it was the consequence of the core algorithm update.

Every time a Google update is released, marketers start worrying about the sort of repercussions it will bring along. Since the search engine does not reveal exactly how the update will impact sites, it is quite natural for SEO specialists to feel threatened. And the time has come again when webmasters and SEO experts have to dissect and discuss yet another major update.

Initial analysis of the core updates

So far, we only know a little about the latest update. While we are sure it is not Penguin related, Google confirmed that the Panda update was a part of the whole core update. The Panda part of this update probably took place months ago. However, the core ranking update took place last weekend. Google officials also revealed that this update does not have a name yet, and it is one of the “frequent quality updates”. Of course, that led to even more confusion and panic in the industry. What does this mean? How is it going to affect ranking and other aspects?

It is not possible to answer all of these questions at this point. It will take a while to figure out the whole impact of the latest update. However, few things are made clear, whereas others are still left without answers. Let us discuss some of these aspects of this update.

Did the core update refresh Panda penalties?

Soon after Google confirmed that the Panda algorithm is part of the core ranking update, marketers automatically assumed that the latest update must have set new Panda standards. Some even hoped that Google has “freed” some of the websites that received penalties as a result of the previous Panda update. That is, however, not the case here.  Gary Illyes said quite clearly and confidently on Twitter that the latest update has not impacted the Panda signals in any way. In his words, “The recent ranking fluctuations you noticed have absolutely nothing to do with Panda or other animals.”

Does Google Panda run in real time?

This is another question that wondered in the heads of several marketers. People who were thinking that Panda is now real time can breathe a sigh of relief as Gary also confirmed that it is not! He explained further saying the news about Panda running in real time is just a hoax, and that the update does not run immediately or in real-time. Even John Mueller stated in a video hangout that Panda scores are still not run in real time, and the latest core update did not change that fact. Therefore, it is clear that the Panda scores are running at different intervals on their own.

Given whatever has been said about the core ranking update, we can now expect Panda updates to be more regular. In the same hangout video, Mueller also says that the latest update will bring about Panda updates in a much faster and more regular manner. He quickly adds that it is purely his assumption. He did not confirm that this will happen. However, he presumes it to be the case.

What sort of signals ran in the latest algorithm update?

By now we all know that it was a major update that took place last weekend. We also know that Panda is only a part of it. The real question is what sort of websites felt the impact the most? Google does not usually discuss the core ranking updates and signals. So, there is probably no way of knowing exactly how the update will impact sites. We may simply have to make peace with the fact that these core updates will always be one of those Phantom updates that will initially confuse everyone.

So far the latest update has left everyone confused. More questions are expected to arise, and a lot more discussions will take place. Hopefully, soon enough we will have more answers and a lot less confusion!

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