Reading between the lines of Google’s latest search update, Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable is coming to the conclusion that Google is making its Panda algorithm change a real-time process—in that "Google does not have to manually press a button to run the Panda algorithm, but rather where it runs all by itself."
Of the 17 search quality updates Google made last week, Schwartz points to the high-quality sites algorithm improvements. "We improved how Panda interacts with our indexing and ranking systems, making it more integrated into our pipelines. We also released a minor update to refresh the data for Panda," Google said. Hence Schwartz’s conclusion that Google has integrated Panda into the mainstream algorithm. "I am not sure if this would constitute a "rolling" update, where Panda is baked into the core algorithm," he concludes.
"But it does seem Google is now able to run Panda updates more frequently with less overhead and less concern."
Filling in the Twitter Gap
WebProNews thinks this change could be in response to the expiration of the company's agreement with Twitter last year. Certainly there is no denying the growing importance social signals have in search—as just one metric, 84% of search marketers say social signals such as likes, tweets, and Google +1s will be either more important (53%) or much more important (31%) to their SEO this year as compared to 2011, according to a BrightEdge survey released in January 2012.
The remaining 16% say they will pay the same attention to these signals this year, meaning that that none of the search marketers surveyed believe these social signals will decrease in importance for them this year.
A continuously updated Panda, WebProNews said, could make up for Google's lack of realtime search—to some extent.
Perhaps more telling, it said, was Google's "final-destination" update, which deals with how Google blends news results into the mix. "The fact that this is based around 'realtime trends' seems to be another area where Google attempting to fill the void of realtime search."
Some Sites Never Recovered
Panda is nearing its one-year anniversary—not a particularly happy benchmark for some sites. There are examples of high-quality sites that never were able to recover from Panda, writes Seattle Times—pointing to TeachStreet, which was just acquired by Amazon.
It took TeachStreet four years to become profitable, it noted, which it achieved in January and February of 2011. Then it got walloped by Panda. "That was the point where we lost two-thirds of our traffic overnight," Chief Executive Dave Schappell told the publication. "We tried a lot of things to try to recover that traffic." "We looked at things and felt the better thing was to find a partner who already had a lot of traffic and matched our content."