Google Panda strikes again. Throughout February, Google was updating their system to what is now dubbed Panda 3.3. According to the official Google Search blog, “This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.” The blog post then rattles off a long list of what search aspects have been updated and “refreshed”. Fortunately, the refresh means that there were no drastic changes in the algorithm and, just like after the 3.2 update on January 15th, you should still have about the same rankings. However, there are still some updates and changes that you should be aware of.
Google is going to start taking a closer look at pictures to show in the images bar of the universal search results. This is aimed at giving the searcher more relevant image results. What this means for you is that it’s important to have optimized images on your website, so that you can garner some search traffic from your images, as well as text content. To effectively optimize your images, make sure they all have descriptive file names and ALT attributes, and that the content and image on a page match as much as possible and are very relevant to each other.
Google wants to more accurately predict what you’re typing in reference to YouTube. Their update in Panda 3.3 is about giving “more locally relevant predictions in YouTube”. Since Google knows your location when you’re signed in, your YouTube results will be more relevant to your location. So, say you’re in Minnesota. If you’re typing in “best ballet dancer in,” it’ll give you the best ballet dancer in the U.S. or the world, before giving you the best ballet dancer in Korea.
If there’s an aspect of Panda 3.3 that you’ll want to watch closely, it’s this one. Here’s what Google said about their update to link evaluation.
“We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often re-architect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.”
It’s hard to say exactly what this means, as this is all Google says about it. It sounds a little scary, but they attempt to reassure us with that last sentence. Hopefully, we won’t notice any unwanted changes in our rankings, and we can go along just as before.
Like I said, there’s a long list of 40 updates/changes in the Google blog post. These are the three that stand out, but there are several others that you may find interesting. You can read about all of them in Google’s official blog.