Google's January Updates

What Has Been Measured In This New Update?

We’re almost at the end of the first month in the New Year, and already there has been plenty of movement in rankings and search volatility, prompting industry experts to speculate on what the latest update was and how it affects sites’ rankings.

Confirmed earlier in January, the Panda algorithm is no longer a separate entity, and thus has been integrated into Google’s main core algorithm. This means that every core ranking update will now measure Panda’s traits, namely the level of quality for websites. However even taking this into account, the latest changes indicate that it was neither a quality factor nor Penguin-related change that affected the recent fluctuations (Penguin will be discussed later in this article).

Looking at the data compiled by Searchmetrics, it shows that sites which fulfil user-intent have been positively impacted in rankings. For instance, search users who are entering long-tail keywords will have a specific intention in mind. Sites or landing pages that deliver these answers are a testament to the fact that it’s not the length of content that matters, but more the relevant nature of the information.

Carrying this line of argument, it is thought that this January update seems related to the quality of content taking into account the freshness of the page (how recently the site has been updated), the level of detail (compelling nature of content), and any images/videos which accompany the text. There is also a strong link to semantic search terms having a positive effect in providing user intent.

How Can I Recover If My Rankings Decreased?

If you or your site has been negatively as a result of this update, it is crucial to examine the quality of the content of your website. Checking competitors who rank above you may prove to be fruitful; does your content lack detail that other sites have been able to supply? The data from Searchmetrics shows that sites that are rich in detail and recentness are factors that Google favours.

Looking Ahead

According to an industry professional, it is thought that Google is aiming to simplify their method of measurement by strengthening the capabilities of all ranking algorithms. It is important to refine content strategies for websites, putting a high emphasis on user-intent, and keep an eye out for future changes and announcements.

Penguin Coming

The Penguin algorithm monitors the backlinks associated with a website, and accordingly shifts rankings based on the quality of those backlinks. Its main feature is to prevent black-hat tactics which artificially increase rankings of sites by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page.

The real-time update of the Penguin Algorithm has been widely publicised. The next Penguin update is expected to arrive within weeks; at the very latest launch by the end of April this year.

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