Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave with no Internet connection, I’m sure by now the news of Google’s latest algorithm update, dubbed Panda, is old hat. Perhaps you have also already caught wind of Google’s addition of the +1 button, which is the search engine equivalent to Facebook’s “like” feature. Furthermore, Google has created two new ways for searchers to block sites from their search results. Chrome users can add an extension to allow them to block sites, and Google has reinstated a block link directly in search results.
Despite the fact that Google initially shrugged off implications of the +1 button and block features on future algorithm configuration, I’m sure it will come as no surprise that they recently announced that this type of user feedback is now a factor in rankings. This comes on the heels of Panda’s international release. While Google states that user feedback is a secondary factor in ranking scores, mostly serving as validation for poor quality content already flagged by Panda, I don’t see this as a negative for advertisers or SEO professionals.
Many people have critiqued the Panda update, but I think this interaction with searchers provides some ease of mind in creating a system of checks and balances. As a searcher you have the ability to confirm poor quality sites, or conversely boost good content. As Vanessa Fox points out in her article on Search Engine Land, when Google launched Panda and used blocked search data as validation that their algorithm changes were on target, they found an 84% overlap in sites that were flagged negatively by Panda and sites that users had blocked.
In the end, there is no work around to providing good content and well-run campaigns. If Google’s intention is to give searchers the best experience possible, then these changes sound on par to me, and any growing pains in the process will be worth it in the long haul.
Have you seen any effects of these changes on your site or campaigns? Let us know in the comments below!
Sarah is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.