Google have confirmed that a major algorithm update to Google search has rolled out across the UK this week.
Code-named “Panda”, the aim of the update was to try to eliminate “content farms”, ie, sites publishing junk content purely to capture Google traffic.
Ironically, according to Techcrunch, this resulted in Google Places being whacked by the same update, with the search quality team labelling it as “spam”.
Unfortunately, many journalists covering the story keep quoting a list of supposedly affected websites produced by Searchmetrics.com, without checking if the claims are reliable or not.
While sites such as Pocket-lint and ITproPortal have confirmed some traffic decline, other websites on the list are left protesting their innocence.
Business owners are angry not only that they’ve been placed on a list that makes misleading claims of being damaged by Google, but also that many reporters are simply repeating the same exact misinformation without question.
Other websites on the “100 losers” list also claiming to be misrepresented include Electricpig.co.uk, myvouchercodes.co.uk, and discountvouchers.co.uk.
Danielle Simon of Searchmetrics.com conceded that their “Organic Performance Index”, widely reported on by the BBC and Guardian, cannot make judgements on traffic, despite journalist reports otherwise.
Meanwhile Sistrix.co.uk has been posting up its own data, which has proven more reliable by comparison, supporting claims that Searchmetrics data is misrepresented.
In the meantime, reports from the USA suggest that Google are already tweaking their original Panda algorithm, in order to make their attack on content farms more effective.
This is not least as eHow.com, which republishes its content on eHow.co.uk, was held to be a typical example of a content farm, and yet managed to make it through the update with only limited impact on Google.
UK webmasters are therefore being warned to expect further volatility as further tweaks to the Panda update filter through to the UK.