Google Algorithm Update – what you need to know

There has been plenty of talk recently of a fairly major algorithm change at Google to come this fall or at least by the end of the year.


Brett Tabke, the founder of WebmasterWorld, has said that the search giant’s next major update could be as big as Florida from 2003. Florida had a catastrophic effect on a large number of websites. Google tried, as it always does, to weed out low quality sites using questionable techniques to rank. However, this was a major change with rankings disappearing over night causing some SMEs to go bankrupt.

So, what can we expect from this update? And what’s it going to be called? (OK, no idea about the second question but let’s concentrate on what sort of sites and pages will be positively or negatively affected by the forthcoming change at Google).


Google is using account profile images of verified authors in search results which means that users can identify their favorite bloggers quicker. Google is trying to identify the “high reputation gatekeepers” and we may expect these high-authority individuals to be pushed higher up.


Google+ data

The importance of social signals (the amount of Tweets and Facebook Likes) has been rising for a few years now. It’s likely that these will increase still further and will include and increase the importance of data from Google’s own social site, Google+, in updates Google pushed through before the end of the year.

Low value articles sites

We all know what happened at the beginning of the year. A series of updates, named Panda, targeted scraper sites and then other low quality sites. These included articles sites. Even one of the best ones, Ezine, lost lots of pages in the rankings, and other “Web 2.0 properties”, where affiliates dump multiple poorly-written and poorly-spun articles for backlinks, were affected. I predict these will be hit again.

Anchor text

Remember the talk is of a “Florida” style set of upgrades. Reciprocal linking and anchor text were hit in Florida and as reciprocal linking is dead then maybe the power of the anchor text will be downgraded in the algo this time. Since Panda it’s importance has increased further still, and SEOs have been gaming it for years.

Exact match domains

Everyone knows that if you get ahold of an exact match domain (for example, you perform significantly better in searches for the keywords that are in your domain.

Sites that contain a keyphrase in the domain have been considered to be highly relevant which has resulted in relatively poor affiliate sites doing quite well.

So, if you’ve been sitting on domains with juicy keyphrases but haven’t had the time to exploit them, now might be the time to head over to Flippa.

High bounce rate

It stands to reason that if a page has a high bounce rate for a particular search term that Google will not want that page to do well in the results. The data Google gets from Chrome, Analytics, Plus, etc., means that one day bounce rates and pages per view will surely became huge factors.

What you can do to protect yourself

Remember, it’s possible to get far too caught up in these updates as 99.9% of Google users will never notice the difference. Quality content, on-page optimization, high reputation links, sound page loading speed and good social signals will always win you organic traffic. However, here’s some tips to survive “son of Florida” if it comes.

Concentrate on quality, don’t over do ads and get rid of dead links and crawl errors. Add social buttons, particularly the Plus One button, and get your face in Google’s search results.


Webmaster World discussion
Google Biggest Ever Update? from Greenlight

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Readers Comments

  1. Ok cool. This will really help me with SEO. Since my forum is pretty new, I’m afraid I’ll get affected by this.
    Its about 3 weeks old with 12 members and 480 posts/topics. I’m trying out SEO as my active members are getting less active.

  2. Hi Rob,

    Panda is and remains more than a single event. It would appear that the speculation relating to a new florida event may not happen.

    Just last week, around the 28th sept, there was another signifcant tweak to panda (panda 3=) which has knocked a lot of site down or out of serps. Small sites with reletaively weak link building programs, formulaic sites etc.

    One thing that culd well be happening is finalise penalisation of duplicate content across the web. Its too complex for a blog post but esential Panda is learning who is the authority for a given snippet of text. SO the amazon affiliate model is going to get hurt badly if this pans out.

    The problem with this update is 100% unique content is impossible so we can only hope panda gets that.

    Panda is not so much sitting in a bamboo forest chewing on a stalk as much as cracshing around the forest digging up rotten bamboo as it goes.

    Lastly ever site will and is being effected by Panda even when your site is young. We are at last moving towards the small sites not working. Thats a great thing for proffesional SEO and web development.

    I for one dont mind doing the work and creating great sites as long as everybody else has to :-) So dont be scared of Panda think of him as your fiend helping get rid of the low quality unintresting content from th web.

    Go Panda Go

    • Rob Cubbon says:

      Always good to hear your insights, Steve. I like your metaphor of the rampaging panda! It’s true that these updates aren’t one off single events where someone flicks a switch and the SERPs are suddenly different. They are constantly tweaking the algo to get, as they see it, the best and most meaningful results for their uses and less of what they call spam.

      At my end, I got a massive boost in the SERPs around about the beginning of September.

  3. Hey Rob,

    I agree with pretty much all of these, especially the Google+ influence (many people stay logged in as they search, so that’s going to be important either way).

    I’m not so sure on anchor text though, that’s an SEO staple, why do you think they would diminish the value of the anchor text?

    I’m also not sure about exact match domains, since the point of them to begin with was to help people find brands (for instance, if my companies name is ZibbyWoo or something crazy, having the exact match will help people find me easier).

    • Rob Cubbon says:

      You’re right, anchor text is an SEO staple and will be for many years to come. What I’m saying is, and this is complete conjecture, that because it has become so over-ridingly important, it’s importance may be downgraded just a tad. And if you’ve bought domains for affiliate sites like these might lose some of their perceived authority, however would, thankfully, still do very well in “zibbywoo” searches after minimal SEO – as it should.

      But hey, I might be wrong. :)

  4. Hey Rob great PANDA POST! lol. Hate that panda. Sometimes i really do need a reminder of what still works and what doesn’t. Appreciate the time to keep people updated like this. I found this posted on a forum. Have you tried this site or run by it? I’ve been wanting to try it but i’m still unsure. If you could review this for me that would be great!! let me know! it has to do with exact match domains marketplace where i think you can buy exact match domains. keep up the great works! BOUNCE RATE is overrated. lol


    • Rob Cubbon says:

      Hello Tristan, to be honest, I quite like Panda. It’s promoting quality websites and so we have to create quality websites in order to do well. Now, what makes a quality website you can argue about until the cows come home. :)

      I won’t be reviewing the latest SEO tricks advertised on WSO here, just the tried and tested SEO basics and the most useful advice I can give at the moment is to create sites that people will want to visit.

  5. aww booo Rob =] what kind of WSO do you promote! I didnt know you were from warrior.

    • Rob Cubbon says:

      Sorry, Tristan, I assumed EMDVault had been posted on WSO. What I meant was I don’t really have time to review any SEO scheme here unless it was one I would be using anyway.

  6. i couldnt agree with you more… that god damn panda has cut my income by 3/4 , and most of the sites that were haxed were completely white hat…. they need to get their shit together :( its sad.

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