Everywhere you look in search engine optimization sites, the word of the day seems to be “Panda.” Or, if you prefer, “Farmer” – since the two monikers both describe the major Google algorithm that was implemented to fight off spam. While everyone is eager to figure out how to avoid being flagged as a spam site, another major element of SEO has just been made official: user feedback is a recognized signal in Google’s search algorithm.
This isn’t exactly unexpected. After all, Google representatives have been saying for several months that user feedback, including on social networks, would be examined for its potential uses in search. Additionally, the Google “+1″ button released serves an almost identical function by allowing users to state, clearly and simply, which sites they like. Even further, Google’s “block site” feature allows users to point out pages that seem to be spam.
Each of these services had an ambiguous impact on SEO. The +1 or promoted social search features, for example, certainly did impact the results your connected friends saw – but did it impact the site’s rank overall? Would it with enough +1s or other promotions? Similarly, while the “block site” feature didn’t originally impact search directly, how would that data be used?
That’s all been cleared up with a simple statement in the global rollout of Panda: “We’ve also incorporated new user feedback signals to help people find better search results.” Of course, exactly how much will be impacted by these signals, how quickly shady optimizers will start trying to game this feedback, and what precautions Google is taking against false positives in feedback are all unknown.
[via Search Engine Watch]