September has been a busy month for the Google search algorithms, and their effects on all search results. We saw massive shifts in website rankings, because two major updates rolled out.
A familiar friend that we haven’t seen in two years stopped by (hello Penguin), and we’ll be seeing much more of him time now. But there was also the unofficial introduction of another animal at the Google zoo.
Penguin is now part of the core Google search algorithm
Google’s famous “Penguin” update launched back in April 2012, an algorithm that punishes websites that contain spammy or bad links. For example, if somebody was buying a lot of poor external links that pointed to their website, you would drop in rankings.
This is the fourth Penguin update, and the big news is that it now forms part of Google’s main search algorithm. This means that websites will constantly be assessed and potentially penalised The other side of the coin is that if you are penalised, then any changes you make to get rid of bad links, will reflect much faster.
The last time Penguin ran was back in October 2014, so some websites have been suffering for about 2 years. Since it now occurs in real-time, any links you disavow with Google’s Disavow Tool should be removed very quickly.
Penguin starts targeting pages
The other change that is being reported, is that Penguin will penalise specific pages for rankings, instead of an entire site as it did in the past.
This raises the importance of having good quality content site-wide, instead of relying on a few good pages with a multitude of incoming links.
Local Google listings playing “possum”
In early September, there was an unknown Google update which caused sever fluctuations in local search rankings.
It’s been unofficially titled “Possum”, and affected the Google My Business listings of many companies. While originally thought to have disappeared, the listings had just been filtered by this new algorithm.
Spammy or redundant listings were filtered out, with only the most relevant listings shown now. Also, results are now much more focused on your exact location.
For more details on that update and what the results were, read Joy Hawkins’ detailed Possum analysis on Search Engine Land.
Google’s mission to improve search for all their users continues, and they’re far from done as we already know they’re planning an update to improve mobile search in January 2017.