Every morning I sit in front of the computer with a bowl of cereal and fire up my RSS feed. Lately, my feed has been buzzing with big changes and updates from Google themselves. Here is a summary of three big changes.
Penguin Algorithm Update
Over a year ago, Google launched the Panda algorithm update. The Panda update was an adjustment to the rankings algorithm that placed a greater emphasis on high quality content. Sites with low quality or “thin” content saw their rankings drop with the Panda update.
Move forward to 2012, and Google has now launched a new algorithm update code named Penguin. The Penguin update aims to penalize sites that are creating webspam by engaging in certain tactics to take advantage of the algorithm rather than creating a rich user experience. Keyword stuffing, buying links, and other sneaky manipulative tactics are all targets of the Penguin update.
It’s not over, because Penguin is likely to have a few additional updates. Panda just recently launched version 3.5. Both updates will continue to receive version updates for awhile.
Introducing The New Google Shopping
Google allows retailers to upload a feed of their products for free, and those products are featured on results pages and in Google Product Feed search. Consumers can browse through products and find the lowest prices and where to buy.
Google is changing the way retailers use this in the fall of 2012. In Google’s own words:
We are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. This new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and the transition will be complete this fall. We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.
What we know: Retailers will now be required to pay to be included.
What Google says: This will raise the quality of the search results, simply because retailers will need to invest time and money to see results.
What we don’t know: Whether or not this will actually raise the quality of the search results. There is definitely plenty of skepticism.
Google Places Converts To Google+
Google Places pages were pages for your local business that you or your internet marketer could set up with Google. These would show up in search results and give people more information about your business- physical address, website address, directions, and photos (just to name a few).
Now those Google Places pages have been converted to Google+ pages and Google Places will be completely terminated. Google has likely already converted your page, so you won’t have to do anything. You still manage your page in the same place (at least, for now).
Regarding search results, the new Google+ pages have completely taken over what the Google Places page did, so you should see no interruption during the conversion.
Mike Blumenthal has this topic covered like a blanket on his blog.