Google has confirmed a new Panda update. One year ago, Google launched its “Panda Update” designed to filter low quality or “thin” content from its top search results.
Panda 3.3 Update
Here’s what Google says about its latest Panda-related change:
Panda update. This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.
This sounds very similar to Panda 3.2, which happened in mid-January and was described only as a “data refresh” and not related to new or changed ranking signals.
Google says it’s getting rid of a link evaluation signal that it’s been using for years. This one’s sure to prompt discussion:
Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.
We’ve reached out to Google in the past, asking for further clarification on the items in these monthly roundups. The company has indicated that the blog post says everything Google wants to say. That, along with Google’s understandable (and necessary) reluctance to give away too many details about ranking signals, leads me to assume we won’t be getting anything more than the above about this.
A link evaluation signal that’s been used for years is now turned off? The SEO mind races….
Local Search Rankings
Here’s another one, along with the link evaluation signal, that I’m actually surprised Google would so openly reveal. The company says traditional algorithmic ranking factors are now playing a bigger part in triggering local search results:
Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.
Traditional SEO has played a bigger part in Google’s local search since the launch of Places Search in late 2010. And now it sounds like that dial is being turned up a little higher, too.
Google’s post also says local results are being improved because of a “new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.”