Do the brains at Google ever tire of search algorithm updates? If the fourth quarter of 2012 is any indication, the answer to that question is a resounding, “no.”

Here’s what they hatched as 2012 came to a close:

  • Panda 20/Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update – In the first week of October Google hit the SEO world with a one-two punch that included a penalty for EMDs and the twentieth Panda update. The EMD update impacted around .06% of English language queries, while Panda 20 hit a whopping 2.4% of them.
  • Top Heavy 2 – Google’s made it very clear that a positive customer experience is their main goal and Google customers do not like seeing ads on the top half of a web page. This page layout update hit anyone who hadn’t heeded prior warnings about top half ads pretty hard. Oddly enough, an increasing number of print newspapers have been breaking their own taboo about front page advertising over the past few years.
  • Penguin Update – Matt Cutts had promised something jolting and jarring but the Penguin update in November impacted just 0.2% of English language queries. No one is sure whether the limited impact was because the update was minor or because SEOs cleaned up their link networks enough to avoid trouble.
  • What the Heck Was That? – In mid-December webmasters across the world reported signs of an update of some sort, but no one was really sure what it actually was. Google claimed that nothing had happened, but tell that to the folks whose page rankings went off the cliff. As of this writing, there’s still no clear evidence what was behind the drops.
  • Panda 23 – In case you haven’t noticed, Google is pretty serious about keeping Panda updated and continuously refreshed. In late December, they rolled their twenty-third Panda update. These updates usually don’t impact a lot of English language queries, but the consistent Panda drumbeat is a sign that Google hasn’t lost interest in quality content.

Looking Ahead

So what tricks do the powers-that-be at Google have up their collective sleeves for 2013? It seems like plenty more Panda updates are likely in the works. And as for the jarring and jolting Penguin update? We wouldn’t be surprised to see that one come up, too.

Of course there’s definitely the possibility of a new algo update that makes Penguin and Panda look like, well, penguins and pandas. Is Google Python or Panther coming our way? We’ll soon find out.

Were you impacted by any of the Q4 Google algorithm updates? Share your experiences int eh comments section below.


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