As anyone involved in SEO will know, Google tends to keep its algorithm updates rather low-key – especially when they’re big changes. But so far in 2016 we’ve seen not one, but TWO fairly significant Google updates – and they’ve even confirmed them… but what does this mean for your website and rankings?

Google panda integrated into the core ranking algorithm

The original introduction of Google’s Panda algorithm made a big impact in 2011, forcing web owners and search marketing agencies to pull their socks up and start thinking about context and quality, rather than filling the internet with low-value ‘spam’ links and content.

While strictly speaking it’s likely that Panda was made part of the core ranking algorithm late 2015 rather than early 2016, the effects are now starting to be seen – and as it’s now a standard ranking factor, it will continually be used to assess websites.

Essentially, this means that you need to make sure that the content you publish on your website is high quality – we’ll look at this more in-depth in or next blog post.

Confirmed core ranking update

SEOs across the world have been waiting for a big Penguin update, but Google has confirmed that while yes, there has been a major core ranking change, it isn’t the Penguin one we were expecting – and neither is it the Panda integration we looked at above.

While it’s not completely clear what the updated core algorithm change is, early indications seem to point towards a requirement for better site, URL and navigation structures, along with the punishment of once high-ranking sites where their content is stale, out of date, or of poor quality.

However, against the generally accepted SEO and search marketing mantra of ‘good quality, relevant content’, some sites with very thin content seem to have gained from this core update – but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security! This seems to only apply where the sites may be sparsely populated, but clearly and efficiently satisfy the searcher’s intent.

So how does this change SEO in 2016?

From the updates we’ve looked at here, along with the anticipated Penguin update (which could happen any time!), the message is clear. Google are continuing their campaign against low quality – whether in regard to your website itself, or the quality of your backlinks.

Make no mistake, if you’re not committed to publishing great content and building a link profile that is contextual and natural, you’re at risk of becoming another Google update ranking victim.