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How Panda Reshapes the Ranking Factors Picture

| Mar 21, 2011 No Comments

Much attention has been paid to the recent Google algorithm change that Danny Sullivan called the Farmer Update and that Google in a Wired article referred to as Panda. A lot of focus has been paid to the types of sites impacted, and the nature of the signals that Google has available to it to use. There are plenty of articles on both of these topics (one of the best ones is this one by Vanessa Fox. In fact, in the months leading up to this I predicted the downfall of Content Farms (which is still a work in progress), and much about this change. To me, this is only part of the story.

Farmer / Panda is a Fundamental Shift in Search Ranking

That’s a strong statement. But, think about it for a moment. We now have confirmation that Google is doing what it can to evaluate content quality. The major tools it has to do this are:

  1. Uniqueness of the content
  2. User Engagement with the content

In contrast, consider the way we used to think of ranking. What follows is the summary chart from the SEOmoz SEO ranking factors survey:

SEO Ranking Factors

Note how 66% of the factors relate to linking. Now, however, we know that we have shifted more weight to social engagement and ontent quality. What does the new reality look like? Here is my guess at it:

SEO Ranking Factors 2011

It is important to emphasize – this is just my guess. But one thing we do know is that we have seen a significant ranking algorithm change. I have represented that by showing SEOmoz’s social graph metrics growing from 6% to 20%, with my renaming it social engagement metrics.

Google’s Panda change purportedly impacts 12% of search queries, keep in mind that this is their first foray in this direction. They will collect data, and they will get better at this. As they do, the impact will broaden. This is not something that they will back off on, but rather it is something that they will evolve and grow.

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