The past two years have seen almost constant change in Google’s algorithm. They just changed it again. This change is very welcome. Google’s core algorithm is a never-ending process. As soon as it has finished calculating the rankings of all the Web pages in the world it starts all over again. After the algorithm has given every page a ranking, Google then applies “filters,” which adjust the rankings of every page either up or down. The two important filters that command everyone’s attention are Panda and Penguin. Penguin judges pages for the quality of the links that point to it and Panda judges the quality of a page’s content. There have been big movements on Panda over the past week, and you may find that the rankings of your law firm’s website pages have suddenly adjusted. Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land spotted these moves. Search Engine Roundtable gives us the techie angle on the changes and Moz Blog has a nice trick you can use to manipulate rankings if you have a large law firm.
Here is the top story about recent changes in rankings. If you noticed the rankings of your law firm’s site judder over the last week, don’t worry – everyone went through it. As ever, Google didn’t give any warnings that it had changed its core algorithm, but the rankings of so many pages changed that it raised a lot of chatter on the Webmaster message boards. This recalculation was not just a regular rerun of the algorithm because a lot of rankings shuffled significantly. This leads the experts to surmise that Google has changed its algorithm. This topic makes everyone jumpy because we were all holding our breath for a run of the rarely applied Penguin filter. It wasn’t Penguin.
A week after the article above, this notification was put out by Search Engine Roundtable. The search engine seems to have been experimenting with its core algorithm over the week because everyone’s rankings have been up and down like a yoyo. Did your law firm’s pages bounce around Google’s results pages? Note a second confirmation from the high Gods of Google that this was not a Penguin visitation.
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Aha! Now we know. It wasn’t Penguin, it was Panda. Panda is now officially not a filter, it has merged into the core algorithm. This is actually good news. Google runs its filters very rarely. So if you got a penalty on your law firm’s rankings from Panda or Penguin, you used to have to wait ages for any good work you did cleaning up your act for the next run of the filter to absolve you. Panda will now run almost constantly along with the main ranking calculations. This will make it a lot easier for you to experiment with your content – you will get much faster feedback on whether it is a rankings winner or a loser.
This story is a little bit confusing. It could be a good thing. We have all been informed that Panda is now a part of the core algorithm, but Penguin is not. However, reading between the lines, the news here may be that Penguin could be made redundant. Google insider John Mueller announced that the algorithm now blocks the passage of ranking points from one page to another, if the site containing the link seems a little spammy. Penguin’s task is to smite the pages that are pointed to by bad links and cherish those with good backlinks. However, if Google is just ignoring links from bad sites, then who needs Penguin? This change may be the reason for the big ranking changes you may have seen for your law firm’s site over the past week, and it also hints that the Penguin roll out that everyone is waiting for may never come.
If your law firm is very big and generates a lot of result page-worth pages, you may feel frustrated that a lot of them never appear in Google. They seem to have been dropped from the list and Google arbitrarily picks a few representative pages for your firm’s presence in the list. This article explains a nifty trick you can use to override the limiting factor. All those other pages exist in Google’s index, you just have to use guile to force the search engine to show them in results pages.