Every year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times. Most of these changes are minimal; Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results in crucial ways.
To know the dates of these Google updates can help explain changes in rankings and organic website traffic and ultimately improve search engine optimization. Below, we’ve listed the major algorithmic changes that have had the biggest impact on search.
Burying content below sponsored posts: A site that included a number of link thumbnails to sponsored content at the top of articles ended up getting hammered in the search results.
More ads than content: A site that featured two-thirds ads, and one third content, ended up seeing a significant drop in search results.
Thin Content: A site focused on Q&A ended up seeing a drop in search results, most likely because it contained many pages with thin or irrelevant content.
Generic Content: A site that provided very generic content for the topic it covered ended up seeing a drop in search results. Content consisted mostly of rewrites of information that could be found elsewhere on the web. It probably didn’t help that the content was filled with ads as well.
Indexing Issues: One site that saw major fluctuations in search results is one that had indexing issues based on the site’s robots.txt file. This could have led to Google not being able to properly crawl the content on the site.
Panda’s algorithm has not been updated since March. According to the time frame, there’s reason to believe what we’re seeing is another Panda update. At the very least, it’s likely one of Google’s “quality updates”.
What to do: It is not always easy to diagnose what could be the effects of Panda. The good news is that most websites will be able to return from a Panda penalty even faster than before now that it’s a part of the core algorithm. Once you have determined which pages are not receiving organic referral traffic, you can look at the title tags associated with each page to identify duplicate titles, indicating that the content itself may be duplicated and should be improved or removed from Google’s index. It is ok to have a few of the same title tags across different pages; not every single page on a website will have entirely new text or imagery.
However, if you find that several pages have the same title tag, there are a couple of ways to proceed. If there isn’t a duplicate content issue, you can simply update the title tag. But if the content is too repetitive, you should INDEX these pages so that Google knows not to crawl them. Even better, find ways to rework the existing content or add new information to make all of your pages valuable and give search engines more quality content to consider ranking.
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