There’s a reason why Google’s periodic algorithm updates are named after cute, cuddly animals like Pandas and Penguins. And there’s a reason why search marketers choose ominous names like “Phantom” for the quiet updates Google tries to keep under wraps.
No one’s intimidated by a cute little Panda, but if you’ve ever seen your website suddenly drop from Page One, then you know how much is at stake from these constant updates. This January, Google finally rolled out a long-awaited update to its search rankings, but it wasn’t quite what the search engine marketing pros were expecting.
Pay No Attention To the Search Engine Behind the Curtain!
Here’s what you need to know about the latest Google update. While most search engine marketing services were predicting a Penguin update in January 2016, Google instead updated their core ranking algorithm. Specifically, the search engine integrated previous Panda updates with the core algorithm used to rank sites.
So what does Panda do, and why does this matter to you? With Americans performing an average of 12 billion searches a month, countless websites are affected by these changes. It’s best to let Google explain it from here:
“Panda is an algorithm that’s applied to sites overall and has become one of our core ranking signals. It measures the quality of a site, which you can read more about in our guidelines. Panda allows Google to take quality into account and adjust ranking accordingly.”
Until recently, Panda updates helped Google better sort sites with low-quality content from those with high-quality content, and now that’s going to be an even more important ranking factor moving forward.
What Does Low-Quality Content Mean in Google Speak?
The reason why so many digital marketing companies focus on effective content marketing is because Google heavily favors sites with interesting, shareable content to their site. Sites that are regularly updated with original content of interest to users is well placed to move up in the rankings, while a site that rarely-to-never updates or posts new content will find itself slipping down the result pages.
In 2016, there’s no longer much of a difference between content marketing and search engine marketing, they’re essentially one and the same.
Of course, that’s just one of the big changes to the search landscape. Mobile search is still surging, and now 50% of mobile phone users are mobile-only, primarily accessing the web through their phone. Local search is also ascendant, with Google searches including the keyword “near me” increasing 34 times in the past five years.
If you’re feeling lost, then you’re not alone. An enormous amount companies are turning to professional SEO services for help cracking the Google code for that reason.