Following some widespread fluctuations in rankings across multiple industries this weekend, the SEO community was awash with reports of an algorithm update. Many assumed that changes to rankings were related to the Penguin algorithm update announced and anticipated since last year; however, changes have since been confirmed as part of a ‘major core algorithm update’ (so you still have time to clean up those backlinks if you haven’t already!).

In a rare occurrence, Google’s Gary Illyes and John Muller have now confirmed that what everyone was seeing over the weekend was in fact a major core algorithm update. Google has also informed the industry that the Panda algorithm (focussed on content) is now part of the core algorithm. This led to more confusion, as people thought that this would refresh panda penalties.

Gary Illyes, responding to the confusion, has since stated clearly on Twitter that “The recent ranking fluctuations you noticed have absolutely nothing to do with Panda or other animals”. Following this statement, he followed up with in a hangout that mentioned “panda updates are a little bit faster, a little bit more regular”, which he doesn’t promise but assumes will be the case.

What does this mean for me, and what do I need to do?

If you’ve been engaging in clean, ‘white-hat’ SEO activity in line with best practice (as we at Search Factory provide!) you needn’t panic – your website is likely to realise a benefit from this update and if not already, will be rewarded in the longer term.

Remember: updates such as these are designed to remove and/or demote websites engaging in unnatural practices, so be sure to monitor rankings closely to determine if there are any major or apparent insights which you can glean in order to adapt and align your activity with the most recent ranking updates where necessary.

In short, we’d recommend to:

  • Keep an eye on your rankings and note any major changes
  • Be conscious of ranking changes for competing and rival websites
  • Use any ranking changes to inform adaptations to your existing strategy
  • Be aware that this wasn’t a Penguin Update
    • But continue assessing your backlink profile in anticipation of the coming update
  • Be conscious that Google have now confirmed that the Panda algorithm is part of Core
    • Also that they’ve hinted that Panda will run more frequently
  • Importantly, avoid knee-jerk reactions!
    • If you notice a drop in rankings, be sure to re-validate after a few days as we’ve seen wild fluctuations reversed in multiple situations.

As always at Search Factory, we’ll be seeking to remain at the forefront of updates such as these and we’ll report back with any further developments. Need specific SEO advice? Get in touch with one of our Brisbane-based SEO consultants today!