Panda 2.2 Is Here

Last week, Google rolled out Panda 2.2, which is the latest update in their Panda series. Google has yet to release a blog post about this update, but webmasters and SEO agencies have already seen a few ranking changes trickling in.

To be specific, Panda 2.2 is not technically an algorithm change, but rather a tweak of a ranking factor in the current algorithm, which Google uses to rank search results in order of relevance to the search query. According to Google’s Matt Cutts, one of the functions of Panda 2.2 will be to improve scraper detection. Scraper sites are known as sites that “scrape” original content from other websites; some complaints in the aftermath of Panda 1.0 indicated scraper sites were ranking higher than the originating websites, and Google is now seeking to rectify that problem.

As a refresher to Panda’s history, the first Panda update (aka ‘Panda 1.0’) occurred in late February 2011 and negatively affected many websites with shallow or unoriginal content, influencing around 12% of U.S. websites. Panda 2.0 was released in April and brought the initial update to all English-speaking sites worldwide as well as incorporated user blocking data. In May, Google released Panda 2.1, about which Google has been very silent, and which affected only a small amount of sites. Some have even speculated Panda 2.1 might have been a “check up” to see if any sites that were punished in the initial round had changed their ways and deserve a reprieve from “time-out”.

Panda 2.2 is unlikely to have any major changes associated with it, but rather is intended to improve user experience that much more. If you have any questions about whether or not your website has been affected by the Panda updates this year, your SEO agency will be able to effectively address your concerns and help you establish an appropriate SEO strategy for your business.

Google’s Search By Image and Voice Search On PC/Desktop Online

Google Search by Image and Voice Search Now Available on PC/Desktop!

If you happen to use certain types of mobile devices, you may already be familiar with “searching” online by simply using your voice or an image on your phone. Such mobile technology has been available since 2008, and this week Google Voice Search and Search by Image is rolling out on your desktop as well.

You will be able to search vocally on Voice Search once you download Google Chrome 11+ in English, which came out this week. You will also need a microphone, either installed on your computer or via a device you plug into your computer. Once you are squared away with those prerequisites, you simply click on the microphone icon on the right side within the search bar and begin speaking. According to Google, this feature will make searching easier with those hard-to-spell words or long-tail keyword phrases that are simply easier to say that type.

Search by Image is already available and works in a similar fashion to Google Goggles on mobile devices. Search by Image allows you to either upload your own picture, paste the URL of an image, or drag and drop a photo from your computer or other web pages into the search box. Google will then take that image and match it against billions of other images in their database, taking into account its distinctive features, colors, lines, and textures, before coming up with a “best guess” text description of the image. Google will then display similar images that match the text description.

I tried Search by Image myself, using various travel pictures, and Google was able to identify my image about 50% of the time. Google was accurately able to describe my images of Iguazú Falls, Argentina, and the Catalina Island harbor, but ironically could not identify a photo I took of Google’s Mountain View campus. Just as they claim, you are much more likely to find what you are looking for with a famous skyline, animal, or piece of art, and less likely with an image that has rarely been indexed.

Both Google Voice Search and Search by Image are examples of the increasingly powerful way online search is helping people find what they need. If you or your business are not already advertising online or using social media as part of your advertising strategy, it is not too late to start. Contact your SEO agency today to find out how these tools can help your potential customers find you faster.