The start of the week brought news from the SEO community that Google’s Panda algorithm had been welded into its core ranking system, meaning site content quality has become unavoidably integral to where your web pages sit within the SERPS.
With a working week behind us, Searchmetrics has revealed a list of the initial ‘winners and losers’ to have a witnessed notable impacts to their rankings since the changes came into effect.
While details of the update remain, as usual, somewhat shrouded, it’s fair to conclude that the following gains and losses in visibility have derived as a result of Google’s latest rollout – at least to a degree. Note, however, that these changes so far only apply to the US market, indicating that the full update may have not yet been rolled out internationally.
Big publishers affected
Searchmetrics reports “massive” changes since the update within the top 100 websites by its SEO visibility metrics, which apply across both desktop and mobile.
Patterns have been hard decipher, but a number of large publishers have been affected, including The Atlantic, GQ, and Time, among others.
“It is apparent that many loser domains are classic print publishers and their losses in rankings mainly stem from older content pieces,” commented Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics.
“Additional publishers who lost rankings are newyorker.com, vanityfair.com, arstechnica.com, fastcompany.com and economist.com.”
Fresh, detailed content prevails
But not all publishers have seen their ranking downgraded. Gains have been seen among publishers sporting “current or holistic content”, says Searchmetrics, whereby a topic is covered comprehensively.
For example, ranking ‘winner’ GQ’s top-performing URL concerns an article about NFL star, Tom Brady, featuring a 3000 word interview, supplemented by photos and video.
Other publishers who saw distinct gains in visibility include qz.com, howstuffworks.com, politico.com and inquisitr.com.
According to Searchmetrics, whether publishers came out on top or not depends on Google’s QDF (query deserves freshness) score, that determines whether the user’s search is relating to current news and events – taking into account wider user behaviour and keyword search volume. As a result, for search topics that are current, publishers serving fresh content will enjoy gains in visibility.
“When Google carries out an update, it is generally to improve the experience for its users. This means providing the best possible search results, and getting its search algorithm to reflect this,” Tober added.
“Based on vast amounts of user data, content that loses out after an update, is content Google believes does not best serve a user search query. This is not refreshing the content per se, but rather refreshing what its algorithm determines to be the best content.”