Yesterday, the man most feared by SEO marketers, Matt Cutts tweeted that Google had issued an update to its “Panda” algorithm.
Google is rolling out our Panda 4.0 update starting today.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 20, 2014
As the person in charge of weeding out spam on Google’s search engine, Cutts has been brutal when it comes to constantly changing the rules for getting higher search engine rankings. Plenty of sites have been punished and confined to Google purgatory for indulging in activities that Google feels are gaming the system.
However, with the new update to its trash-content filtering algorithm “Panda,” we might be seeing a more lenient Google, which is focusing on aiding small businesses.
I spoke with Colin Guidi, senior SEO account manager at 3Q Digital who said previous iterations of Panda had “given small businesses the short end of the stick,” and the update could be Google’s way of correcting that.
Earlier, since Google was rewarding organic content instead of backlinks, larger businesses who could afford to spend money on producing loads of their own content were given preferential rankings. Small businesses who didn’t have the capability to create as big a content footprint were left behind. Earlier this year, at an SMX conference, Guidi says Cutts had hinted at a softer, more rewarding version of Panda that would level the playing field for smaller businesses.
It’s tricky to figure out if you’re a small enough business to benefit from the update. And it’s still too early to tell how much the update will affect search ranking. But at least its comforting to know Google won’t set as high a bar for your local bookstore as it might for an Amazon or Barnes and Noble.