In addition to an update to the Panda system, Google recently confirmed over 40 different updates to its system of web evaluation. These updates affect a number of areas of interest to SEO specialists, including how local search rankings are determined. Google has stated that these updates are not major, but they may still affect SEO practices.
Panda has been upgraded to version 3.3. The search engine giant has not given specific details on how this upgrade is different, stating only that it “refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.” The Panda 3.2 update in early February 2012 was very similar, but it may be several weeks before SEO specialists and webmasters are able to get more concrete information on how it will affect site rankings.
In addition, Google’s system of link evaluation has also been changed. This update seems more drastic, as Google has stated that “we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years.” As is typical of the company, they have kept quiet on details and have not yet released any information on what this method might be. There are no indications that Google representatives plan to name it in the near future; so, once again it may be several months before SEO specialists can determine how the change has affected their work.
Finally, the launch code-named “Venice” has been targeted to improve local search rankings. Google has improved its method of not only detecting the particular city or geographical location of a user, but also of determining how closely a website, document or other data relates to the user’s search and his/her location. Venice is not an entirely new update; the Places search function was originally released in 2010.
Other minor updates have also been made to the system. The “site:” function has been improved, alongside the engine’s ability to detect which pages may or may not be “official” for a relevant search. Google has also expanded the capabilities of the image and shopping search functions.