July 20th – July 26th, 2015
In last week’s SEO Trends article you read about Google’s filters and how difficult it is to detect when they will be run. You will remember that despite keeping his ear constantly to the ground, Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz was unable to predict when the next run of the Panda filter would be. Estimates that it was about due at the beginning of July were proved wrong. Barry concluded that the next run probably wouldn’t be for at least another month. Immediately following Schwartz’s formulation of that conclusion, Google announced a rollout of a new updated version of the Panda filter, called Panda 4.2. We revisit Search Engine Roundtable this week to follow Schwartz’s discovery of the new Panda version. Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land carried more reaction to the event. Panda is the filter Google uses to adjust rankings according to content-related issues. The likelihood is that your law firm’s website has evolved considerably over the past year, but hasn’t seen any improvements in rankings. This run of Panda should fix that problem.
Schwartz posted this article on Search Engine Roundtable on the 20th, back when he didn’t know what was about to happen with Panda. This was a lucky piece of timing for Schwartz because he put his finger nicely on the common lament of SEOers, and foretold that the pending Panda update might fix the problem. He relates the experience that somebody posted on a community board. That person had worked through a backlog of issues with a website to address all the factors that Google has introduced over the past year to boost rankings. However, the webmaster detected no improvement in the rankings for the site. Schwartz suggests that the site was probably in need of a Panda run to wipe away the overwhelming weight of downranking factors applied at the last run. This is a common occurrence in the world of website design, and you have probably experienced it with your law firm’s website.
As is usual, Schwartz was the first to spot the Google filter run. However, he chose to announce his discovery in Search Engine Land on July 22, rather than on his home website, Search Engine Roundtable. There is some important advice in this piece that you should take on board when checking your law firm’s Google rankings over the next month. Schwartz says that this rollout is happening very slowly and will not cover the whole of the Web for another month. You may get ranking boosts on some of your pages but not others. However, keep watching because they will all get processed eventually.
Schwartz released the Panda rollout news at Search Engine Roundtable on the 23rd. In this piece he explains that his own site was hit by the last Panda run in 2014. He notes that he can already detect an upswing in the traffic his site gets through Google. He elaborated on this theme the next day with more information about his own site’s experience with both the September 2014 Panda run and the latest rollout. He doesn’t explain whether he believes this improvement is due to adjustments he made to his content, or whether Google has rewritten the filter to make it more forgiving. Certainly, if you have tidied up the content on your law firm’s website, you should now start to see some ranking gains as reward for your hard work. His follow up article, Stats On My Google Panda 4.2 Recovery, gives further analysis.
Search Engine Journal caught up on the 24th with this article on the Panda rollout. Here we read about the experience of SEO guru Glenn Gabe, who has noticed a fall in Google traffic and also a rise. The article doesn’t explain whether these opposite effects were experienced on two different sites, or two pages on the same site. However, this is something to bear in mind when looking for changes to Google referrals to your law firm’s website. The phenomenon of a page dropping in the rankings may only be because that page has not been re-scored by Panda yet. As rankings are relative, one page going up means other pages will go down. Therefore, you may see some odd results until the filter has been applied to all the pages on the Web.
Search Engine Watch also waited until the 24th before posting news about the Panda run. This report echoes the findings of the Search Engine Journal article – some sites are unchanged, some have got an upgrade, some have lost rankings. Keep monitoring the throughput from Google to the pages on your law firm’s site. Today’s rankings are not final.