Matt Cutts, one of the lead engineers at Google, announced on Twitter yesterday that Google is beginning to rollout two new Google updates, Panda 4.0 and an update to its Payday Loan algorithm. Many of you are likely wondering if these new Google updates will affect your website traffic, organic search engine rankings, and ultimately your business’ bottom line. While not much is known about the effect of the updates yet, we’ve done our best to compile the need to know information for small businesses.
Google is rolling out our Panda 4.0 update starting today.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 20, 2014
This past weekend we started rolling out a ranking update for very spammy queries: https://t.co/NpUZRqpnBI
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 21, 2014
Why did Google update its algorithms?
Google’s target for the Panda 4.0 update was mainly to penalize content farms, a large contributor of many poor quality websites on the web. Content farms were being used to manipulate search engine rankings, taking away from real high quality web pages and the businesses behind them. Google’s ultimate goal is to provide the most relevant and high quality content to its users and the Panda 4.0 update is another step towards this. By penalizing content farms and the websites connected to them, it will help the true high quality websites to get the exposure they deserve.
Google’s Pay Day Loan Algorithm, which was first launched last year to target spammy queries, was also updated. This new update is a deeper version of the algorithm, targeting a broader range of spammy queries. By “spammy queries”, Google is referring to terms like “pay day loans” or “online gambling”, for which spam websites are quite common. The new update will attempt to clean up the search results for these queries, bringing more relevant, high quality websites higher on Google’s rankings.
How will Google’s updates affect my business? Should I be worried?
If your business has been building its web presence properly, the Google Panda 4.0 and Pay Day Loan algorithm updates should only help your business appear higher in search engine rankings. If you or your marketing agency have been using proper, healthy, white hat SEO tactics, then your website and your business should not be affected negatively. This update was specifically targeting spam generating websites, including content farms and other black hat websites.
How do I know if my website has been affected?
Some of you may be wondering how you can tell if your website has been penalized by the Google updates. The best way to check if your website is still in good health is to view your Google Analytics reports. Google Analytics can give you insight into whether your website traffic has dropped dramatically over the past few days. If you haven’t noticed a significant change, your website and business should be fine.
Another way to check is to do a quick search for your traffic generating keywords on Google. If you’ve been monitoring your websites keyword rankings, then you should quickly be able to discover whether your website has been affected. Keep in mind that minor keyword ranking shifts are normal, but if your website has fallen by a few pages, your website has likely been affected. If you haven’t been monitoring your keywords, you can get started by using our “Check My SEO” tool or contacting us for a more comprehensive audit of your website.
Help! The updates have bumped my website from Google! What do I do now?
If your website has been negatively affected by Google’s new Panda 4.0 update or Pay Day Loan updated, it can likely be attributed to association with content farms or other black hat SEO tactics somewhere in your website’s history. If you or your online marketing agency are using tactics such as buying back links, article submissions and copying and pasting content from other websites, you need to stop immediately. All of the above tactics can create short term gain, but long term pain. Your website may have been ranked artificially high before, but the new updates may have penalized your website severely. Google is continuing to monitor and combat black hat SEO tactics more carefully, and once you’ve been caught it is a long, uphill battle to regain their trust. Stop any questionable SEO tactics now, and start generating high quality content for your customers.
What do you think of the Google update? Has your website been affected? Let us know below.