Google’s Spam Department head, Matt Cutts took to the mic at the SES San Francisco conference Thursday to discuss further changes to Google’s algorithm. As many small business owners have noticed, Google updates have come in the form of animal-themed adjustments. These software changes—entitled Panda and Penguin, respectively—were designed to eliminate some of the SEO practices that Google programmers felt were lowering the company’s quality of service. Before Thursday, Cutts had not issued further instruction since the Penguin update was announced at the SXSW Music and Technology Conference in March.
Panda, designed to minimize the amount of sites hosting stilted, unhelpful or spammy content, has been updated every month since its February release and, according to Cutts’ address, this update will be no different. These little changes affect less than one percent of sites online and most changes are too small to notice. Large, glaring rankings decreases have already been handed down and now, updates are designed to do a little clean-up.
The Penguin update is a little different. Designed to force sites into higher quality linking strategies, eliminating duplicate content and getting rid of low-quality links, its adjustments will be more noticeable. Since Penguin has not yet had an official update since the May release of Penguin 1.1, the next update will be more far-reaching to try and cover all the sites developers may have missed on their first pass.
“We’re still in the early stages of Penguin where the engineers are incorporating new signals and iterating to improve the algorithm. Because of that, expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact,” Cutts told the crowd at SES. “It’s not the case that people should just expect data refreshes for Penguin quite yet.”
Cutts also shied away from calling these latest updates “penalties,” instead referring to them as adjustments that will help the search engine give better, more accurate results and protect business owners from spam. The updates, Cutts said at a Q&A back in June, are designed to take away rewards from sites that have these less desirable practices present on their site, and that site developers should expect to see a decrease in rankings due to better optimized sites gaining precedent.