The Social Connection between Google Panda and Google +1

Recent news indicates that Google has pushed the Panda to regions outside the U.S., and everyone in the search industry continues to keep a close eye on the fallout from this significant algorithm change and what it means on the world's search engine results pages (SERPs).

Although the bigger picture of previous ranking websites left in Panda's wake is not precisely known, search marketers aren't really surprised with recent developments.

Many SEOs feel the Panda update was long overdue, especially with the long-term high rankings reign of content farms and the noticeable disparity between Google rankings and socially shared content.

What most are ignoring is that Panda represents more than just an algorithm change to weed out content farms; it represents (perhaps) a first step in a series of fundamental shifts that will enable Google to become more socially-focused.

Shortly after the Panda update showed up in February, Google +1 was launched, which provided yet another viable signal to assist the ranking algorithm.

Although Google +1 certainly adds to the arsenal of data that can be leveraged for rankings, was it really required to gauge content quality?

Tough to say for sure, but Google could have easily been leveraging social signals from Twitter for the last few years without us knowing, only to arrive at low quality SERPs.

Many SEOs will reaffirm the strong relationship between user experience and high-ranking content, which was somewhat of a challenge for Google to measure in recent years.

Most content shared between friends through social media channels is highly curated (but not necessarily immune to spam), and often goes beyond the types of content search engines can easily index, such as:

  • Infographics.
  • Non-YouTube hosted video.
  • Interactive content/sites not optimized for search.

In a world where content can be created and distributed so quickly, optimizing for search can be secondary to the content going viral through social channels.

To make matters worse for Google, much of that social interaction occurs outside of their proprietary systems; perhaps out of their immediate analytical reach.

Therefore, it only makes sense that Google realign their algorithm to eliminate less-favorable content (Panda), and incorporate a mechanism to collect social signals directly (Google +1).

It will be interesting to see whether Google makes further moves to incorporate stronger social signals in SERPs, and whether Google +1 or whether it goes the way of Wave and Buzz.