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Google Confirms Algo Change: "Quality Update"

     
1:51 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Earlier this month, some publishers began noticing changes to Google’s search results. We had asked Google if this due to a Panda Update or any other type of update, but Google replied no. Since then, more reports came in, with the change even being dubbed the “Phantom Update” because something did seem to have happened, even if Google wasn’t acknowledging it.

Now Google has. After more follow-up this week, the company told Search Engine Land that while no spam-related update had happened, there were changes to its core ranking algorithm in terms of how it processes quality signals.


[searchengineland.com...]

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 6:26 pm (utc) on May 20, 2015]
[edit reason] updated link [/edit]

12:12 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 8 messages were spliced on to this thread from: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4747995.htm [webmasterworld.com] by aakk9999 - 2:29 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)


Hey everyone,
I was wondering if anyone noticed a hit or has been unindexed during April/early May ?

One of my clients has been unindexed of the desktop google.fr search engine, and it smells like bamboo, has anyone had that sent around them recently ?

Thanks in advance and good seoing ;)

Max Senzamici
1:49 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's the Quality Update. I posted an item but it hasn't been approved yet.

ten years and I still need to be approved first. geezopete.
2:09 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Do you mean Panda as the Quality Update (Since it looks at content) or a seperate algorithme ?
2:12 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Changes to the core algorithm.
2:13 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Sth. different.

RustyBrick asked Google and they denied a Panda Update but today they confirmed a quality update (and if you follow the Google Updates and SERP Changes threads for april 2015 and may 2015 you'll find a lot of chatter about this update).
2:18 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Here's the Search Engine Land story:

[searchengineland.com...]
2:21 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yeah I saw some chatter around all this..

So what is the difference between Panda and the Quality algo ? Cause this smelled like Panda to me since it seems content quality related...
2:24 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@editorialguy, ty for the link
3:08 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Do you think that, on top of droping in ranking, they unindexed pages/domains with this algo ?
3:25 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So what is the difference between Panda and the Quality algo ? Cause this smelled like Panda to me since it seems content quality related...

As the Search Engine Land article pointed out, this could be a change to the core algorithm, not to the Panda "filter."

Also, I'm just guessing, but it's possible that this latest quality score is calculated at the page level, instead of being a site-wide adjustment like Panda.
3:45 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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in this article [pauledmondson.hubpages.com...] by "Pauledmondson" from hubpages he speculates that this is again sitewide, with no regards to subdomains.

In this clients case they have 15 subdomains, and only 1 has been unindexed.. I wonder if his analysis is slightly off, or if we've been affected by yet another algo change...
4:21 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Who knows? Maybe Google has integrated some aspects of Panda into the main algorithm. In any case, not all sites have been affected negatively. As always, there's a page moving up in the SERPs for every page that moves down.
4:27 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Yeah of course, some hurt & some are happy :)

Although, I need to ID which freakin update hit this client to solve it haha

To your knowledge/what you've seen, this quality algo deindexe's pages or juste demotes pages/domaines..?
5:19 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@msenza:

so far I've only seen demotions, no deindexing.
5:33 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This has pushed many of my pages higher. Could G actually be getting a grasp of what a quality webpage/website actually is? No complaints here (at least for the moment).
5:39 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This has pushed many of my pages higher.

We seem to have gained, too, at least in terms of Google organic traffic and overall traffic. (Not sure where the ranking changes are--I don't see anything obvious in WMT's Search Analytics.)
6:13 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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All my sites are 15-40% up as far as organic traffic; I haven't looked at rankings.
6:25 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone think this update has to be something to do with doorway pages?

I have a site which is losing ground for the first time since 2006. I suspect it falls into the category of doorway pages violation, as up until this has always worked really well.

You may question why it was built like this but it started off it's life as an information-based site and the shop came later.

People (until now) found the information and could also click through to the shop to buy. Now the thin content shop / target pages rank instead, and not as well (the target pages do tend to attract more natural links as people recommend the shop to friends, etc).

Currently merging the information...
6:27 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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any ideas for this deindexing situation...? It occured on the 29th of April...

Globally sites are increasing in ranking/traffic but this one is killing me lol, especially since it's such a freaking small site (like 20pages tops, 100% thin content.. You gotta love it when clients don't listen then come back all panicked like "wtf happened..." )
6:28 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The HubPages guy mentioned four major sites (besides HubPages) that have lost traffic in the update:

About.com
eHow
Answers.com
Wikihow

If the list is correct, maybe this is "Content Farm Update Redux." (Wasn't Panda originally called the "Content Farm Update" in some quarters?)
6:36 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Re deindexing - I don't think that's this. That sounds like an actual penalty.
6:37 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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yeah it was i beleive [searchengineland.com...]

and in this case it would make more sense... they have a bunch of subdomains (like 15/20) all with thin content

But still, the one domain being unindexed...
6:43 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@netmeg it's a penalty almost for sure, they don't even show up on exact match.
Trying to figure out from which one... 90% sure its due to content quality
6:47 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Some of the pages on my two main sites have moved up 1 or 2 positions recently.

The question is how the algorithm measures "quality". No doubt there are many signals, and it would be easy to start giving some signals relatively more weight than before.

Actually what I would like to think is that signals relating to user behavior (sometimes called user metrics) have been given more importance. Google originally created its Chrome browser for collecting this kind of data. Examples of user metrics could include:

-- The user slowly scrolls down the page.
-- The user bookmarks the page as a favorite.
-- The user prints a copy of the page.
-- The user makes multiple repeat visits to the page.
-- The user visits other pages on the same site.

The increasing use of the Chrome browser enables Google to collect this kind of data for millions of users and for virtually any website. Because of the enormous amount of data that can be collected, it would be extremely difficult for anyone to "game" these types of signals. Even if you hired a thousand people to try to pretend that they like your site, their efforts would eventually be totally drowned out by the enormous sea of data that the Chrome browser can collect.

In my opinion this is the best approach for the long term, and I hope that Google has begun shifting toward it. It would be a shame to waste all the data that the Chromw browser is collecting.
6:54 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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yeah for sure they're using these singles as well as many others (popping back to serp to specify the search of go to another site on the same SERP page for instance)

But here they haven't changed anything on the site..

And i doubt they would unindex a whole subdomain due to back user metrics (at least I hope héhé)
6:59 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone think this update has to be something to do with doorway pages?

The doorway pages I've been watching haven't budged. This of course isn't all doorway pages, but these are so blatant that I'd expect them to get hit.
7:10 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle:

Regarding your user metrics examples:

I assume that even in times of mapReduce and BigData this would be way to much information to handle. Maybe some of those could be used for an "offline" computed site quality score - that is: not in real time but in cycles like panda or penguin data refreshes.

For me, the "quality update" rather looks like a brandibility update using search histories and than applying machine learning to spread it out. (as you said: repeated visits to same site)

For example, I've seen lot's of EMD sites (big and small) loosing - with no relation to their content quality whatsoever - those have a brand problem. That is: it's unclear for a search engine if a search for widget is a generic search or for a site named widget (navigational search).

For me, googles definition of quality is: what pleases the masses (even if that is different from niche to niche)

If you go by categories like computers, smartphones, fashion, travel etc. where decisions are not made in a second you get a search history. And these often follow the pattern of product - product - product in blue - product in blue at brand - brand. That's voting by feet, in this case by search history.

And for informational queries, google could value navigational searches vs. informational searches. Everyone here has probably one (or more) newspaper or news site that is visited either directly - or (as most folks use the web) - thru a navigational search at google, yahoo etc. There you have all the quality signals in the search engine logs without using chrome data or time on site or bounce rate or by trying to semantically understand a sites content (way too much ai server power needed there).

This probably won't apply for new sites or sites that are too small, as there is not enough data in the search engine logs, but for bigger sites this could work quite well - and look like a brand update to many, a panda update to others.

So for any site that lost traffic from google, check your ratio: navigational vs. transactional or informational search. For any site that won traffic from google: do the same.

If google would tell they use these signals, it could be easy to game - who want's to try?


For sure this is only one part of their core algo update. But i would love to test this out.
7:23 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Spiekerooger -- Google expended a lot of time, money and effort to create their Chrome browser. At the time it was widely reported that they did so in order to be able to collect data on user behavior. Google has also put a lot of effort into promoting Chrome, and it now has hundreds of millions of users. It's hard for me to imagine that they would have expended so much money and effort to be able to collect data that they don't intend to use.
7:25 pm on May 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@spiek : It would definitely be interesting to see if there is a correlation between these different metric and different times we see high activity on the serps

@robert : I thought about doorway pages, and still actually consider it, some of these pages have such thin content that they may be considered as doorways for pages other similar pages within the domain
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