Update 2015-02-02: Mad, incredibly-belated shoutout to SEO By the Sea‘s Bill Slawski for pointing out that, yes, even Rand makes a mistake now and again. Google Panda’s Engineer is actually named Biswanath Panda, not Navneet.
By the way, Bill. You’re gonna love it out here on this Coast. This is coming from a Chicagoan who never thought he’d say that until Feb ’14 hit.
I just updated my SEO section to talk about all the basic onsite SEO factors I look for when doing a Web Presence analysis. As with any exception that proves a rule, there’s a huge recent change from Google that, as Captain Jack Sparrow would say, make the onsite SEO rules, “more like guidelines anyway.”
Why Is Google Panda Important?
Well first, a Google history refresher…
In the Beginning
As discussed in the History of Search Engines, Search Engines started off primarily looking for contextual matches to searchers keyword query. The one who said that keyword earliest in their content and most often would win.
The Pao Alto boys came along with their software named Backrub that analyzed which web pages had the most backlinks, and SEO changed forever.
Evolutions and Changes
Now SEO is subject to the 200 indicators in Google’s indexing algorithm which allegedly focuses on 4 primary factors:
- User Experience
Around 2009 Google made their first real tweak of their algorithm. Nicknamed, “Farmer,” the change went after those who would scrape content and post it in their site, thus creating “content farms” whose pure girth tricked the algorithm into trusting its content, thereby outranking the pages whose content they scraped. It sorta worked, but it wasn’t done. But before Google finished working on that, they had a need…
…The Need for Speed
Somewhere around 2009, Google became obsessed with speed.
Why? Because when you’re copying billions of additional pages a month into a system that already has hundreds of billions of pages to sort out, decreasing download time of a page from, for example, 4 to 3 seconds means you can copy those additional billions and billions of pages obnoxiously faster. It also decreases wear and tear on machines. Even Google has finite resources. It’s understandable. And, who the Hell wants to wait for a page to load?
Here’s How Google Addressed Their Need for Speed
- Site Speed – algorithm tweak, the theory being that nobody gets their pages penalized (unless Googlebot has timeout issues) and pages that load the fastest get a little “bonus” in their Google quality score. Site speed metrics now show up in Google Analytics & Google Webmaster.
- Caffeine – to hold up their end of the deal Google updated their indexing software. Named, Caffeine, new websites and content could be indexed in seconds instead of days. (What they don’t mention is that if you publish and then make updates that the updates could take days. Details, details…)
And Everything Was Good.
Then Came Google Panda
As mentioned in the Anatomy of a Search Engine, Googlebot can’t read the content per say. They do pattern recognition.
Well, the Google Panda algorithm change tries to read the content.
By implementing scalable Machine Learning Algorithm theories into their index. And the engineer leading the change is Google’s latest rising star,
Navneet Biswanath Panda.
Navneet Biswanath Is a Person, Not a Proxy.
He’s on the team that developed and implemented the change named after him.
Here he is on:
The Google Panda algorithm change is so overwhelming and the learning machine algorithm requires so much computing power that at this time Google can only run it manually. Resource consumption. That explains the need for speed.
Why I Hate
Navneet Biswanath Panda
Well, I don’t hate
Navneet Biswanath per say, but my headline wouldn’t be as catchy. But whoever’s idea it was to spring the algorithm change upon the world without providing a sandbox / test preview where people could see their results & rankings and work on making amends in advance should get their ass whooped. Stocks & pillories & tomatoes & tobacco spit amidst intolerable mid-day heat. Tie’m to the Whippin’ Post.
A little forewarning, like with Farmer
Before the Farmer update (I think it was Farmer), Google ran the results on one of their servers and announced a link to a sandbox where people could see what their results look like when the change took place. It was helpful because I could see if my corporate reputation management results at the time were gonna hold. They were, so I had to improvise and I had 3 months to figure it out.
But with Panda, We Got Nothing
Not jack s***. Why? Well, to give an indication, Google’s about to launch Google 2.5, which is another way of saying, “‘Google’s Attempt to Get Panda Right at the Expense of Millions of Customers’, Take 7 or 8 or…”
Were their test subjects in real time.
But It’s Google’s Property
True. But Google’s become as close to a public utility as a private company can get and when they spring s*** unannounced, it affects hundreds of thousands of people. It’s this kind of s*** that will keep getting them in front of Federal inquiries.
And when it comes to Natural Search, their customer service is virtually non-existent unless you are a top tier paid search / AdSense customer / revenue driver. Ironically, they try to keep natural and paid search divisions separates. We’ll just have to muddle through the broad brush guidelines and leave you to guess the rest.
“But Panda Filters Out the Spam”
…like a shotgun cures disease.
Ask Cha Cha.
Ask Demand Media.
Ask the 10s of Thousands who’ve lost revenue or leads or other business opportunities without warning.
And those in the line of the Gun have virtually nowhere to turn to figure out where to go, thereby being left to their own devices.
“But Those Penalized Were Cheating the System?”
Not nearly as many of them as you would think. And some have been able to recover results when Panda runs the update. Meaning? It wasn’t their fault. But you don’t see Google cutting them a check for lost revenues. You don’t see those employees who lost jobs in the mean time getting severance checks from Pao Alto.
And for those more rogue SEOs, while their are gray hats and black hat SEOs out there, all of them continue to test and push the boundaries of the algorithm. Without them, Google wouldn’t understand the impact of their changes. And if you don’t think Google doesn’t appreciate them, then go to a search engine or affiliate conference. Check to see if Google shows up.
“Google knows they help push the industry forward.”
Your user experience wouldn’t be what it is today without those innovators.
You’d Think Google Would Learn
The boys & girls in Mountain View clamored to pre-beta demand pressure before when they releases Google Wave before it was ready. The result: a potential for a great tool wasted because the point-and-click developers couldn’t make it work. And now the tool is dead.
They’ve also sprung s*** on us before just thinking it would work and that we would like it . It was called Google Buzz. We hated everything about it. Especially when ex-girlfriends we were trying to forget were in our initial 20. Thanks, a******s.
Ask Facebook what happens to them every time the release a new privacy update without warning.
Now I Will Always Love Google
And I appreciate their efforts for the most part, but they need to go back to giving people a head’s up or two to prepare for their changes. Kinda like what they did today by announce that they’re going existential. And they shouldn’t make our lives their playland.
Respect our commitment to you, Google,…
and everything should be alright in the end.