What was highly speculated to be a Penguin update over the weekend was just a core ranking algorithm update. However, it may be different from past core updates, considering recent news that the core algorithm has been integrated with Panda.
This news was first reported on by Jennifer Slegg who received direct quotes from Google itself confirming that Panda is now part of the core ranking algorithm:
Panda is an algorithm that’s applied to sites overall and has become one of our core ranking signals. It measures the quality of a site, which you can read more about in our guidelines. Panda allows Google to take quality into account and adjust ranking accordingly.
So does that mean elements of the Panda algorithm were present in this weekend’s update? That’s where things start to get confusing. There has been no direct confirmation of that being the case, but it’s easy to understand why some are drawing that conclusion.
Here’s what’s known:
- A core algorithm update took place over the weekend
- Panda is now part of Google’s core algorithm
Whether or not that means Panda was integrated into this weekend’s update is yet to be confirmed, but here’s what we know for sure.
Panda Does Not Exist in a Silo
Panda is no longer its own separate algorithm, when until now it had been. Previously, there was Google’s core algorithm, which search results are subjected to every day. At its own discretion Google would roll out a separate Panda update on top of the core algorithm, but now that will no longer be the case.
Based on what the search community has learned this week, Panda has merged with Google’s core algorithm, which search results will be subjected to on an ongoing basis.
Quality of Content Matters More Than Ever
Panda was initially developed to weed out poor quality content from Google’s search results. Now that it’s part of the core algorithm, quality is going to become paramount.
Does that mean you should assess and overhaul the existing content on your site? Not necessarily, unless your rankings have taken a hit of course. Otherwise, Google says to focus on creating the best possible new content.
According to the search giant, pages of outstanding quality can still rank if they provide a complete solution to what the searcher is looking for. Google harkens back to its old adage of focusing on quality, not quantity.
That means, instead of creating content for the purpose of generating traffic, concern yourself with how many people you’re helping with your content.
For a complete overview of Panda, see Jennifer Slegg’s guide which has been vetted and reviewed by Google itself.
UPDATE 1/13/2015: Google’s Gary Illyes has confirmed Panda was not present in this weekend’s core algorithm update:
@jenstar correct. The recent ranking fluctuations you noticed have absolutely nothing to do with panda or other animals
— Gary Illyes (@methode) January 13, 2016
Read this chapter of our SEO Guide to learn more about Google Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.