There have been over 25 updates in the past 12 months and there are many more to go. Watch this video from Matt Cutts on the changes to be expected this summer.
This is not new. Google is continuously updating its algorithms to provide its users relevant search results and to improve the user experience. They test over 500 changes on search results every year. Not all of them make newspaper headlines, but the ones which do have a breathtaking impact.
It has launched two updates in the recent times to cut down on spam, to eliminate poor websites from the first page and to penalize the duplicate content. These updates are known as Google Panda and Google Penguin.
Panda checks the low quality and duplicate content, advert to content ratio on the websites whereas Penguin pushes down the websites for keyword stuffing and poor inbound links. With the regular updated versions of these tools, one needs to know how to avoid a fall in the search ranking.
With the following tools, one can check which update has hit the website:
With the Google Organic reporting, one can analyze the web traffic on a daily basis during the various algorithm updates.
In the graphs below, the first site was hit by Panda twice and the second one was hit by Penguin once.
This report can help in determining the keywords that dropped once one knows which algorithm update has hit the site. Knowing the dates of these Google updates can help explain changes in rankings and organic website traffic.
Google Webmaster Tool
1) Search Query Data
Under the "Search Queries" tab, the impressions and clicks for queries that return the web pages in the search results are shown. This is a great way to see the impact of a certain algorithm update.
2) Focus on the Problem – Filter by Web
"Filters" button in the upper left-hand corner of the Search Queries report lets you filter the results and shows the keywords that dropped from the search results.
Corrective actions for Google Panda and Penguin
There are enough and more articles on the net for specific steps for websites who have had a sudden drop in ranks. I will just outline the major activities.
- Stop any and all spammy SEO activities in content creation and link population
- Review all pages (including the SEo pages) from a customer benefit perspective. If a page does not really help the customer, it should go
- Increase the quality of all content generated and all links earned and shared
- Resubmit to Google, and
- Hope for the best