Panda becomes 'more integrated'
Search giant Google has revealed 17 changes that it made in January, including an improvement to the Panda algorithm - an update which sent ripples through the world of search engine optimisation when it first arose in 2011.
Google has described the set of changes as 'search quality highlights', as all relate to improving the way that results are delivered to users. They include upgrading November's freshness algorithm to produce more relevant results; faster predictive action when users type search queries; and changing the way that Google interprets the date of a document, thereby producing more useful results for recurring event listings and similar content.
The Google Panda algorithm has been updated frequently since its launch in February 2011, but the latest announcement suggested that it has been further ingrained into Google's processes. Official Google blog Inside Search stated: "We improved how Panda interacts with our indexing and ranking systems, making it more integrated into our pipelines."
Original, in-depth content is still the key
Google Panda was designed to lower the rank of websites deemed to feature low quality content. Sites that were filled with material purely designed to climb search results, rather than being truly useful, became less visible. Upon initial launch, Google explained via its blog that it had 'a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem' that enabled 'high-quality sites to be rewarded' for producing original, in-depth content.
Of the January change, named Panda 3.2, Matt McGee of Searchengineland.com said: "Sounds like Panda is baked into things even more firmly than before, which I guess is bad news for any sites that were affected negatively over the past year."
Google also confirmed that its main aim in the near future is to continue identifying new ways to make its search service more transparent.
Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "There have been many updates to Google Panda since its inception nearly a year ago. However, this one seems to have made it more closely connected to Google's daily evolution - and naturally SEO professionals everywhere will be keeping a close eye on their rankings.
"The best advice is always to ensure that your website features genuine content optimised for search results, rather than contrived material that is no use to anyone - as Panda will continue to evolve and sniff it out."