The January 2016 Algo Update: What We Learned

Each time Google releases an algorithm update the SEO world seems to get turned on its head. We have seen this happen plenty of times in the past, but with this latest update we’re seeing more of a status-quo type reaction. While there were some ranking shifts, the SEO community as a whole didn’t seem as concerned as it has with past updates.

The initial thought was that this was an update to Panda, the algorithm update that seeks out thin content. This rumor was put to bed by Google’s Gary Illyes when he answered Jennifer Slegg about Panda directly.

Aside from the update not directly relating to Panda or Penguin, we did learn three new important things:


1. Google’s Panda has become a part of the Core Algorithm

2. Panda doesn’t run in real time

3. The next iteration of Penguin is only a few weeks away.

We have yet to gather solid insights from our own data on specific ranking trends related to the update, and, as usual, Google hasn’t provided any real information about it either. Since we don’t have a clear picture on what sites or queries were really impacted by this last update, we will cover what we were able to learn.

Google announced that Panda is now part of its core algorithm, but that doesn’t mean it operates in real time. In fact, this one of the points Gary Illyes and John Mueller stressed multiple times. They added that Panda scores are not changing real time either. They may not even run at the same time the core algorithm refreshes. Panda is being run separately and at different times with updates to be coming quicker and more often, according to Meuller.

In a Q&A, Andrey Lipattsev from Google’s search quality team, states that these “core” updates are

“less about functionality, which means it probably doesn’t change that much over time, and it is more about how we perceive it, in the context of the algorithm.”

Andrey Lipattsev https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=getCIrv_lVI&feature=youtu.be&t=8m3s

From that statement it seems that Google is not putting much more effort into updating Panda specifically. They’re comfortable with how it performs and may only make small changes in the future on how it’s being used within the core algorithm.

The second important piece that we gathered from the weekend of update talk was Gary Illyes confirming that a new Penguin update is on its way. Jamie Dodd posed the question on twitter which was answered by Illyes:

What Does This Mean For Your Hotel SEO?

The information we were able to gather from the conversations between Google and SEOs since the update is still pretty significant. It will allow us to be proactive to Google’s changes over the next few weeks and months.

Now that Panda is a part of the core algorithm it will continue to be a factor when it comes to a site’s rank. This means that SEOs need to always be on top of the site’s content. We need to ensure that all of our pages on our site have enough content to totally answer a searcher’s question. As a best practice, we all need audit our content regularly and if any thin content is found we need expand upon it and make it useful to a user, or we need to eliminate that page and roll that page’s content into another section of the site where it will be of more use.

Google Panda Now Core Algorithm
Google Penguin Update 2016

The hint that a new Penguin update is coming soon is another big announcement for SEOs. This should be a swift kick in the butt to any SEOs that have been neglecting their backlink profiles. If you haven’t audited your backlinks in a while, now is the time. Find any potentially harmful links and try to have them removed or disavowed. It will be best to get this done before the new Penguin update. It’s better to be proactive and not be affected, than be reactive and lose your rankings.

If your hotel SEO needs some help, contact us at Fuel and get in touch with our SEO specialists for a free site evaluation. We can help you find thin content and potentially harmful links to save your site from these vicious pandas and penguins.

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Phil ForiskaThe January 2016 Algo Update: What We Learned
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