I have been been following these changes for a long time. Many of my client’s have seen changes in their rankings even though we have used white hat SEO techniques on their website. I hope this will help explain some of the massive changes in Google’s Ranking System
Why is Google changing their algorithms? To clean up the massive spam that has corrupted the ranking process and created an unsatisfactory experience for the user. This is a good explanation why: http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-quality.html
Earlier this year we launched a page layout algorithm that reduces rankings for sites that don’t make much content available “above the fold.”
“we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.”
“This new algorithmic improvement tends to impact sites where there is only a small amount of visible content above-the-fold or relevant content is persistently pushed down by large blocks of ads.”
What is the Panda Update:
The anti-spam “Panda Update”, designed to filter low quality or “thin” content from its top search results.
Panda is called an “update” because the filter runs periodically. Each time the filter runs, all the content Google that has been indexed, is re-sifted. The improved content is not trapped by the filter while the poor content is caught in the filter. I bet that filter must be getting clogged…
“Panda is just 1 of 200 different factors Google uses to rank pages”
What is the Penguin Update?
Google has described Penguin as an algorithm change that’s aimed at webspam and, more specifically, “sites that we believe are violating Google’s quality guidelines.”
“Last year, Google launched the Panda update, and wreaked havoc across the web on sites doing little to contribute to the quality of content appearing throughout Google’s search engine. This year, it’s been the Penguin update doing the wreaking (with Panda continuing to do its job at the same time). There has been plenty of panic among webmasters caused by the Penguin update, primarily in the inbound links department, and from the sound of it, that’s really just getting started.”
“If you remember, in the early days of Panda, it took several months for us to iterate on the algorithm, and the Panda impact tended to be somewhat larger (e.g. the April 2011 update incorporated new signals like sites that users block). Later on, the Panda updates had less impact over time as we stabilized the signals/algorithm and Panda moved closer to near-monthly updates. Likewise, we’re still in the early stages of Penguin where the engineers are incorporating new signals and iterating to improve the algorithm. Because of that, expect that the next few Penguin updates will take longer, incorporate additional signals, and as a result will have more noticeable impact. It’s not the case that people should just expect data refreshes for Penguin quite yet. Emphasis added.”
Penguin’s impact from Google’s Mattt Cutts – a single tweet:
“Certainly links are a primary area to monitor. Been true all this year; expect to continue.”
Code changes to the Google Search Engine from June and July
The list is cryptic, but you will see there are constant monthly changes
So you can see that Google is changing their ranking process in the attempt to make consumer searching for information a more accurate system – changing all the rules that many Web Marketers have used in the past.