Google have released two more algorithm updates and as usual they’re causing mixed reactions across the world of SEO; here’s what you need to know.

Google Algorithm Updates and Penalties

Google is constantly updating their algorithm to maintain their position as #1 search engine by delivering trustworthy, appropriate results to users around the world. High search volume makes SEO big business but if you’re on the wrong side of an algorithm update it can also mean you’ve got some hard times ahead!

Keeping your site up to date with modern white hat ethical SEO is best practice to avoid any penalties, what was working for you a year or two ago can be enough to land you in a penalty under modern algorithms. Over the past weekend there have been two updates that hit the global search results and for some this has had a major impact.

Penguin update

First things first, lets take a look at the latest edition of an old algorithm. The first Google Penguin update was released in early 2012 and was targeted at websites who were using spam tactics to essentially falsify their backlink profiles.

This latest updated, unofficially dubbed Penguin 3.0, has essentially meant a revision and re-evaluation of backlink profiles. The last of these updated (Penguin 2.1) occurred on October 4, 2013 meaning anyone hit with the 2.1 refresh has been waiting over 12 months for potential redemption.

As with all things in the world of SEO, there are so many factors at play here but generally speaking, if you’ve been doing the right thing and working to build a genuine, high quality backlink profile then this update should mean nothing but positive results for your site. If you’ve been using outdated tactics like building directory links, article submissions, private blog networks etc then you may be in for a horrible time ahead!

Unfortunately, if you had submitted a disavow list in the last 3 weeks it was likely too late as the gears were already in motion for this update.

While its still unclear as to whether Google have made any actual changes to their algorithm (ie whether it has become smarter at detecting spammy link building tactics), we do know that recent changes mean these refreshes will be happening more frequently. If you’re anything like us and spend a large portion of your time cleaning up the mess of other SEO firms, this is BIG news!

Panda rolling update hits Australia

On September 26th it was announced that improvements and changes to the Panda algorithm were being released slowly, Panda 4.1 has been making its way through to Australian sites over the past week and this last weekend we have seen some major impact to sites based on various onsite elements; predominantly content. Sites that have less than 1500 words of (quality!) content on their home page have seen declines over the past week, and those that have this ideal number have generally made great gains.

While it has been noted that this update will affect between 3-5% of queries, practical steps should be taken for all websites as Google keeps aiming site owners towards quality, original, informative authoritative content on their sites.

The gain that Google expects for site owners is that those who have small and medium-sized sites with high-quality content will stand a greater chance of competing with the giants of their industry.

Anti-Piracy Rolling Update

On Friday the 17th of October, Google announced changes to the results being shown for search queries on media that could be pirated. They are in the process of testing new ad formats in search queries to help people find legitimate sources to purchase their media from.  Currently, the results are only in the US, but in time make their way globally.

Some of what they are doing with these changes include an improved DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) demotion signal for sites that have a large number of DMCA notices and removing more terms from autocomplete predictions based on DMCA notices. This act is in place to balance the rights of the owners and users of copyrighted material – helping artists to receive payment for services and maintain ownership of their products.

The refinements Google have made to the signal mean that in the coming weeks the most notorious sites should lessen in visibility, and this update rolls out globally next week. Google has commented that “we are happy that these new ad formats drive traffic to legitimate sources of media”.

Take a look at this article from Variety for more info.

Both of these updates have seen major changes in the SERPs and as usual, it has helped push stronger, more legitimate sites to the top while lowering the visibility for their not-so-legitimate competitors. While every major update sees the conspiracy theorists voice their amusing (Google just wants us to pay for Google Ads!), the truth is always the same; if you keep your SEO tactics clean and entirely white hat then you have nothing to worry about. If you don’t then it may be time to rethink your methods.

Have you seen any ranking changes in the last few days? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to see some more real-world examples of exactly what sort of impact you’ve seen.

Of course, if you have seen a massive drop then get in touch with us today and we’ll provide you with a FREE SEO health check, its obligation-free and will point you in the right direction.