Google’s latest Panda update has already arrived, and it has again changed the landscape of the search engine field for the foreseeable future. The blogosphere at large and several technology news pundits are seeing the update as a way for Google to give a boost on its own properties while burying the rest of its competition in the dust. Will antitrust investigators be knocking on Google’s doorstep because of the suspicious way this latest algorithm update is behaving for the search engine giant’s own benefit?
History Repeats Itself
Whether the perceived unfairness of Google Panda is true or not, the media rumblings of this update is quite reminiscent of the hardball practices of Microsoft back in the day, which actually led to several lawsuits against it and its billionaire owner, Bill Gates. More to the point, the way Panda 2.5 buries competition and improves the SERP rankings of Google’s own properties is reminiscent of how Microsoft dealt with its browser competitor, Netscape, back in the day. When Panda was updated on Wednesday, September 28, it left in its wake both victims and survivors.
More and more, people are realizing just how integral Google has become in terms of gaining visibility in the worldwide web at large. DaniWeb’s own Dani Horowitz noticed the changes around Friday morning, September 30. Ironically, the million-member DaniWeb programmers’ forum had just implemented changes when Panda was updated last February. Like Sisyphus and his boulder, it looks like DaniWeb will again work back through changes made on the site thanks to the Panda 2.5 update.
Silence is Golden for Google
Even after Google confirmed the Panda update, they were bereft with details concerning the changes. However, the winners and losers of the Google SERP rankings can easily be seen through Searchmetrics and other such services. To be true, it has become apparent that it was Google’s competitors who took the greatest hit by the changes, while big brands and some major Google properties were the biggest winners and beneficiaries of the latest iteration of the Panda algorithm. For instance, according to Searchmetrics, big brand video sites like HBO, CBS, NBC, MTV, and Hulu as well as Google’s own YouTube have become victorious in securing favorable SERP rankings for themselves.
On a less negative note, it also appears that the vast majority of sites who’s enjoying improved rankings from Google Panda the most are ones that contain a large amount of video content. It would seem that the latest update was orchestrated to improve the rankings of websites who utilize video as their primary source of content. Even the free video hosting site known as MetaCafe has attained more than 1,250 Google +1s thanks to Panda 2.5. In seems that Google has noticed the upsurge in video content popularity, and as such updated their algorithm in accordance to that demand.
Does Lack of Video Content Mean Lower Rankings?
The answer to the above question is yes and no. Although MetaCafe had an increase in +1s, Wikipedia (which has little to no video content) has over 5,600 +1s, so video content isn’t necessarily the end-all, be-all in gaining significant index rankings. On the other hand, the sites that are hardest hit by Panda 2.5 are those that have less video content. As for the allegations that people who have run-ins with Google tend to drop their rankings, you need to look no further than Verizon’s drop (they support Google’s net neutrality) and NBC’s gain (they feature video content) to see that while video content isn’t everything, it accounts for a lot in terms of improved Google rankings.