There's another shakeup in Google land. And it could mean big changes to how business websites rank on Google search results. Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, confirmed via Twitter yesterday (May 20) that the search giant began rolling out its Panda 4.0 update. Here's what it means for small businesses and why you should care.
What is Panda 4.0?
Google Panda is a series of search engine algorithm updates that are designed to identify and weed out low-quality websites. Its purpose is to improve Google search results, so that legitimate, higher quality websites rank on top. Panda 4.0 is the fourth version of the update, aimed at further penalizing websites filled with poor content.
What makes Panda 4.0 significant, however, is that it was launched back-to-back with Google's Payday Loan 2.0 update, which aims to target "very spammy queries." While it's too early to tell exactly how these simultaneous updates are impacting businesses, what's clear is that websites everywhere are suffering. [10 Google Analytics Tools Your Business Should Be Using]
Some of the biggest losers of the Panda 4.0 update are Ask.com, Starpulse.com, Examiner.com, YourTango.com, Spoonful.com and Health.com. The most notable thus far is eBay, which lost 80 percent of its organic rankings.
If these major players are affected by the Panda 4.0 update, do small businesses stand a chance?
How does Panda 4.0 affect small businesses?
Because Panda 4.0 is still in its rollout stage, it's premature to tell how smaller websites are or will be affected. Some small business owners have so far reported some drop in their rankings, while others have seen significant overnight improvements.
But at the extreme losing end of the spectrum, posters at Google's webmaster forum also revealed having been hit with a fatal combination of massive drops in rankings that resulted in substantial financial losses.
What should small businesses do?
Unfortunately, there's not a lot small businesses can do at this point to curtail the effects of the Panda 4.0 update. Currently, the best course of action is keep an eye on your Web and financial analytics. Take note of any major dips and spikes and identify precisely where they occur. You should also stay up to date with the latest developments, as more information regarding the update and how it affects smaller websites should be available over the next few weeks.
Originally published on Business News Daily.