In the last weeks of October and the first weeks of November, Google released four separate updates, which affected the rankings of many websites. Matt Cutts, Google’s head SEO spokesman, had been warning the SEO community about these updates for some time. What were those updates and how did they affect websites? Learn more about them by reading below:
- Penguin #3. Get ready for Penguin to be really nasty now and in the future. Even though this update didn’t significantly update the rankings of many websites, it did have a small effect, and Matt Cutts has warned more will be coming in the future.
- Penguin targets websites which have been overoptimized with too many low-quality back links. In the past, less-than-ethical SEO professionals would build links from very low-quality websites, and Google would give those links a fairly decent weight. That’s no longer the case, so be prepared.
- Panda #20. While Penguin focuses on reducing the rankings of overoptimized websites, Panda reduces the rankings of low-quality websites. “Thin” content, or content that supplies very little value to searchers, received a beating in the rankings from Google. In the Panda series, this update is #20 and impacts 2.4% of all English searches. You can bet Google will continue to refine this aspect of its rankings algorithm again in the future.
- Exact match domain (EMD) update. It used to be that Google would rank websites whose domain name exactly matched their primary keyword highly. Recently, Google also found that websites lower in quality with an exact-match domain name were able to rank higher than websites higher in quality with a non-exact-match domain name. This update reduces the effectiveness of exact-match domain names.
- Page Layout #2. Many searchers were complaining to Google about websites with a number of ads viewable above the fold would rank highly in the SERPs. People also don’t like scroll down to find the content they need at a website. Your site can now receive a small penalty in the search engine rankings for having too many ads above the fold.
What is the Overall Point to Take Away?The overall takeaway from this article is that your site should always, always focus on the best possible user experience. Not only does optimizing for the best user experience keep visitors more engaged with your website, but it boosts your search engine rankings too. In general, you can look at it this way: if it annoys you, it would annoy your visitors too.