Although it had previously been rumoured, and was reported by Searchengine Journal’s Barry Schwartz, Google finally revealed the Panda 24 update themselves on January 22nd via Twitter. This explains why many webmasters have complained about their loss of ranks recently while Google has enjoyed a staggering revenue of $14.42 billion for the last quarter of 2012.
The link they posted leads to a post which was written by Amit Singhal, the head of the core ranking team. The post describes what is required in terms of content to make it good quality, and the effect this can have on your rankings, therefore explaining to businesses why a solid content strategy is important. Some of the things which affect the quality of content are the accuracy of the article in terms of spelling and punctuation, as well as the facts included, how trustworthy the website appears, and whether or not you would be happy to share the page with a friend yourself.
The update was, contrary to what many people believe, not an algorithm update, but was instead a data refresh, which will affect 1.2% of English queries made on Google. The reason many people have noticed a drop in their Google rankings is that Google bots are constantly searching for new websites and content, and collecting data. Once a certain amount of data has been collected, Google will activate the pre-configured algorithms so that they affect new content as well as old. If existing websites are of low quality, they may find themselves penalised and lose their Google rankings, whilst websites which have made improvements will be indexed and may see an improvement in their Google rankings.
There will often be controversy about websites which have broken the quality guidelines but are still receiving high rankings and are not being penalised. However, that does not mean that they won’t be penalised. It means that Google has not yet refreshed its data, and the websites may find that they lose their rankings when the data is updated.
Algorithm updates differ to this, as this is when Google actually makes changes to their code, meaning there are different guidelines and different things which will determine a website’s quality, and therefore its ranking. When an algorithm is changed, it will affect search results on a huge scale. Some of the recent changes made to Google’s algorithm have included Penguin and Exact Match Domain.