Google’s Updates and the Effects on Blogging

Blogging in 2012 will have many challenges and one of the best ways to plan for online success in 2012 is too look back at many of the algorithm changes that Google has made in the past and consider the effects they will have going forward. In 2011 we saw well over 500 algorithm modifications, primarily coming from the Panda and Freshness updates. During this period of time, Matt Cutts and fellow Google folk did their best to help a lot of webmasters understand the implications of the various patches and updates that they have uploaded.

But quite frankly, many small internet marketers and niche websites got hit pretty badly. After Google’s Panda updates were first applied, many bloggers lost thousands of visitors per month and often dropped out of first page results that had netted them steady organic traffic.   This is not something you want to be caught up in again, so make sure your blog is getting the time and effort it needs to boast user worthy content and see increased traffic from Google next year.

Main Reasons for Lost Google Rankings:

  • Duplicate, scraped, or copied content – Panda hit this hard and does a great job of identifying “spun content” through N-grams and other techniques.
  • High outbound links – link farms and sites associated with them got devalued a lot, if you had a lot of backlinks coming from these sources you may have been penalized.
  • Stale content – the Freshness algorithm demands regular updates in 35% of keywords, depending on your market and online competition, you may want to add new content on a weekly or daily basis.
  • Low content volumes – Matt Cutts has said that Panda also targets websites that have very low user worthy content, it is recommended that you update any pages/posts on your site that do not have competitive quality. (i.e. most posts should be 300+ words, a 50 word post could hurt your sites overall integrity)

Blogging in 2012

Many people vilify the Panda update because it was such a problem for their own personal sites. The idea behind changes like Panda, are to improve the search results for Google users. Duplicate content and blogs that offer no value should never rank well in the SERP’s. Blogs that were affected by the update were usually low quality affairs that never deserved first page rankings to begin with. Many of these sites relied on backlinks from article databases to rank well. One of the side effects of removing scraped and duplicate content was the de-valuing of these link sources. Blogs that did not have strong link diversity suffered the most.  Article marketing was a very popular method to get strong search results fast. Unfortunately, many bloggers relied on this technique for a majority of their backlinks. After the Panda update bloggers who used article marketing as the backbone of their backlink profiles dropped sharply in the rankings. My advice is to find alternatives and use these SEO best practice tips from DiTesco that will help keep you on track while blogging in 2012.

Panda Algorithm Overview:

  • Major penalties for duplicate content.
  • Content quantity and quality is more important than ever.
  • Black hat techniques penalized – keyword stuffing, shady redirects, spammy meta data, and others will only hurt your rankings.
  • Article databases lost link value due to low quality duplicate content.

Freshness Algorithm Overview:

  • Caffeine indexing – will be placing more weight on newest results and information.
  • Will affect 35% or more of keywords.
  • Will affect less than 35% of search results. (some keywords receive the same search results)
  • Helps authority and large publishing sites due to it being more difficult for small internet marketers and bloggers to keep up consistent updates and content releases.
  • Daily online activity is more important than ever; ie. Posting, commenting, tweeting, etc.

The Freshness update can thank the Caffeine indexing system for allowing new content to be crawled indexed, and displayed. The new system allows Google to crawl and index fresh information at speeds that were not possible before its development. This innovation could not have come at a better time. Users demand the freshest and most relevant search results as possible. Google thankfully had the tools available to provide this exact service.

Search terms that are time sensitive are now identified by the algorithm even if the notion of time sensitivity is implied. For instance if a user searches for “war in Afghanistan”, in all likelihood they want the most up to date information. Not news results from the 80’s, when the USSR occupied the territory. Google wants to provide this seamless search functionality for their users. People don’t even realize that the search engine is interpreting their request in order to provide the best results possible. Even though the Freshness update affected only 35% of keywords, it has changed the way Google looks at blogs forever.

How does Google see blogging currently?

Blogging has become very popular and 100’s of millions of bloggers write posts on a weekly basis. This is a lot of information for Google to crawl and index on a regular basis, but with the advent of Caffeine, they are now able to do exactly that. Google can crawl and index blog posts only moments after they are written. Even the information in the comments section is crawled and indexed now. The more information that Google has regarding your blog, the better they can associate it with specific search terms.

Blogs must make regular updates if they are to remain relevant in the search results. Quality and consistency are two features Google is always looking for and a great way to display them is through the daily release of unique, well written content.

  • Must make weekly blog posts to remain current for Google search results.
  • Only write quality, unique content that is related to the blog subject matter.
  • Relevancy matters, many paid for services post random articles on blogs for paid links, these are usually not related to the blog subject matter. This is a spam indicator. Avoid this at all costs.

Blogging post Panda

Google has made around 500 algorithm changes and adjustments throughout 2011. The majority of them have been done to improve the search results that Google provides. Some of the changes have crippled bloggers that were able to make a living with their blogs. But they probably did not provide users with anything of value or participated in black hat link building techniques. In any case, most bloggers should be extremely happy with the changes that Google has completed. Blogs are ranking for thousands of high traffic keywords and are among some of the most visited websites in the world. The Freshness update has only solidified the relevancy of blogs in the search results and offers more opportunity for bloggers to be found in 2012.

How do you feel about this and what’s your advice for the future of Blogging?



Mason is currently working in Santa Barbara as a marketing consultant.


  1. when it comes to duplicate or scraped content, Google has nothing to worry about with me, because my content is unique, relevant and informative for my readers, and not written for search engines. today,I am focusing more on creating relevant content and sharing emotion in my writing with my readers, so they can understand where I am coming from as a human being when publishing content to my website. I’m not quite knowledgeable with how the Google panda update and caffeine index stuff works, but the only thing that I know is that to keep content fresh, meaningful, relevant and emotional so that people would understand where coming from “as mentioned in the comment above”.

    I feel that Google is doing everything they can to keep spam out of the index as well as black hat search engine optimization techniques. I feel that they are putting their best foot forward in making 2012 a better year in having beautiful results in their search engine index, minus less relevant content in their search engine results pages.

    my personal advice for bloggers in 2012 would be to speak emotionally from your heart, even though bloggers may feel they sound off key when publishing. I’ve learned through trial and error that when you share feelings in your writing online, people react to that quickly, versus regular sounding content. In addition, I would also recommend to bloggers to write and publish more than one time a day, as well as links to relevant sites, by means of anchor text in their blog posts.

    • Mason Stoller

      Dead on, looks like a great strategy. One of the biggest hassles about the new algorithm changes and such, is that it just takes time to gain trust and rankings on Google. Keep pushing that great content, do all the white hat linking and social media you can, and you’ll be rewarded.

      I think its important to remember to look at your competition and make sure you can/are producing equal or better content. If you can’t offer the same or better content, than you’ll no be able to surpass those competitor sites for high volume keywords.

      • I am all for having patience, because I want Google and other search engines to have trust in me. I don’t know anything else, other than “white hat search engine optimization”, as I feel good about myself doing things “the honest way in search engine optimization”.

        You are absolutely right about the content strategy. One thing that I’ve noticed is that a lot of people who create content donated emotion into it. I’ve learned through trial and error when content creators add emotion into their published writings, people are more engaged on a meaningful level. so, with that in mind, I strive for excellence daily in shooting for the stars… And the moon too! LOL :-)

    • I wouldn’t necessarily call it sharing emotion, but rather, sharing your true personality. Audiences value bloggers they feel connected to.

      There’s no difficulty in creating fresh, unique content when you share your personality because there’s only one you.

  2. hi..that was a really helpful post….thanks for this information..good quality content shud always be given more priority and that what google is loves its customers and is trying to provide them with best possible data….moreover these updates will help the quality of blogging increase a lot


    • I think google does a great job over all and have to agree, every update maes the serps look better. But with there are always sites, that get spurious hit by google slaps. It’s hard to figure out, why google downrated a site with quality content and no typical panda signals. Luckily my sites profit from the recent updates, but I know some webmasters with quality blogs, who lost 30% of their traffic past panda.

  3. Scott Clendaniel

    Wow- this is certainly one of the better summaries of the Panda update and what to expect in 2012. I am curious- where did you see the number of 35% for the number of queries impacted by the freshness update? My feeble memory seemed to see a far lower number, but I am likely confusing things.

    Thanks very much!!! =)

  4. Hi Mason,
    Well it sounds a little bit scary, LoL, but you shared some really good information and I believe that your content should be “ORIGINAL”, not only unique.

  5. I think that there are some people who get caught on the bad side of the Google updates fairly innocently. But in general, I think it is a great thing, since it highlights having quality content and doing things the way I believe is the right way. It will of course involve jumping through some hoops but, in general I like the push for better quality content.

  6. What a very timely post, Mason! Giving us these insights before the New Year comes will definitely be helpful to make the necessary adjustments, if needed.

    I’m just curious about what you said about article databases losing their link value. I’ve been considering to see if submitting to ezinearticles will help increase my traffic. Given what you said, is this going to be a bad idea with all these changes?

    Thanks in advance for your insights.

    • Mason Stoller

      It used to be a HUGE part of affiliate marketing, write thousands of articles, add your affiliate links, and post to any article database you can. Well, if you have seen any of the charts or metrics immediately after the first Panda update, you’d notice that the top ranked sites that lost MAJOR traffic were article databases like Ezine, Goarticles, and Articlesbase.

      This was because a lot of spun and duplicate content existed on their domains, Ezine has worked hard to eliminate a lot of this and make sure that they can produce higher quality articles and members in the future.

      Basically, Ezine and high page rank article databases can still give you good backlinks and small added traffic, but articles do not rank well in search results like they used to. You aren’t going to see Ezine articles in the top 10 for any competitive terms, when they used to be in almost every search result.

      Don’t waste your time spinning and mass submitting articles anymore, just add to the top directories and you’ll see some benefits. Just nothing like a few years ago.

      • This is why I write unique articles and ONLY submit to one article directory, because I don’t want search engines to think I am writing and distributing rewritten content using an article spinner. It pays to be patient, write articles uniquely from SCRATCH, and “stay the course” ! =)

        • Actually, that was my plan: just to create unique articles and just to submit to just Ezine. I’ve never been interested to even to learn about spinning articles, or even giving it a try. :) Looks like I might have to reconsider about the idea of submitting articles there.

          How about repurposing previous posts? Would Google also consider that as duplicate content, or can that still help given the changes that will happen next year?

        • Mason Stoller

          Adeline, I couldn’t reply directly to your post for some reason, but this is it hah.

          IMO use article directories as a PART of your overall SEO campaign, load some unique content and grab back links from every PR 3 or higher article site you can.

          Diversity is key, its more important to have 5 quality contextual links from 100 high page rank article sites instead of 100 quality links from only ONE directory.

          You can re-purpose posts, but make sure you’ve got a majority of unique content in it. Google does love to see citations and quotes(which is basically copied, duplicate content), showing that you are backing up your information, just remember that you need a majority uniqueness to benefit toward your rankings.

    • Mason Stoller

      Honestly I have mixed feelings about Google’s “search improvements”.. Sometimes it seems they put their own financial goals and paid search over organic listings which people work very hard for.

      Organic-less results have completely pushed out organic search listings for product and shopping based queries, killing a TON of internet marketers and pushing their paid PPC (adwords) to the top and above the fold.

  7. At the end of the day, Google is doing genuine people a favor. I come up through the ranks of internet marketing so I have a heart for those people that were doing gray hat methods, especially those that had no idea. Hopefully the updates will educate people on what really matters.

    It also lets us know what the real goal of Google is. It’s to be the most relevant search engine out there – they don’t want to go the way of Alta Vista. They want people to continue to use them for years and years (and click on their Ads along the way)

    So for genuine bloggers and business owners it means use a little more elbow grease or pay for the services of someone else’s elbow :) No shortcuts, just good ole fashioned quality time and time again.

    Full disclosure – I run a content generation firm so all these updates are *awesome* for us because so many of our clients are more convinced than ever they need quality content. Each time another update hits the newswire our conversions go up another 2 or 3 points!

  8. This is interesting, I was just reading another blog about Google. I remember the days when google was just a simple search engine. And now it has all sorts of brilliant things that add on. Its great to see that google is using updates that help bloggers.

  9. Hi Mason, this is the second great post I’ve seen about Google updates and how they will effect us in the next year. Very nice job.

    I am one of those bloggers that have many niche/AdSense blogs and watched my niche traffic and income drop. Actually, come crashing down in a ball of flames would be a better description.

    With that said, I’ll be the first to admit those sites have nothing of value to anyone searching for information. In fact, that is by design to encourage visitors to click off using the ads. I have lost thousands this year and, even though it hurts, anyone paying attention knew the gravy train was about to end. I’ll take a level playing ground any day; not that I’m getting my hopes up.

    One other thing I would like to bring up. Even though I admit that those sites have no real consumer value and I do agree that Panda is a good thing overall, I will also point out that Google created that monster. For ten years they have used backlinks as one of the main factors in determining the “value” of website content. Whenever Google sets the rules, marketers and bloggers will find a way to make it work for them. I, for one, will be glad to see PageRank go away and I believe it’s on it’s way out. It looks like they are, in a way, replacing backlinks with “social voting”. I’m sure we can all see how that will get abused and manipulated.

    Overall, I’m glad to see Google cleaning up and I hope they continue. I want to play fair, it’s when they allow things to get so out of control and one-sided that we look for other alternatives.

  10. I guess Im gonna be more eager in providing strong contents on my blog for my readers to still stick to my blog and keep on coming back. Thanks for this heads up Mason.

  11. This one is superb Mason. I had to admit I have been deeply affected by their updates. I should be more careful next time and will surely be considering your points. Thanks

  12. Thanks to Google for this serial update this has helped my blogspot blog rank for 5-6 keyword on fat loss exercises. Unlike before ,i know i couldn’t have gotten near to the top 20.

    I want Google to keep up with these updates in order for people with like us who are ready to provide quality content rank better.

  13. It is admitted fact that in 2011 all techniques of on site and off site has changed. Now ranking will be awarded to only those sites that have quality and relevant links.

  14. Kevin Martyn

    Hi Mason,

    Thanks for this very valuable information. Google seem to make so many changes its hard to keep up with them all so an article such as this makes understanding easy.

    I now have to make a good job of re-optimizing my website.

    Kind regards


  15. Hi Mason,

    Great insight of year 2011 and yes Google Panda was the worst nightmare for many businesses and bloggers but still it helps to increase the value of quality content and enhance the experience of ultimate user.

  16. I think a lot of these changes by Google are good. I think that these changes will help and benefit those who are trying to work hard and honestly. I like the idea of the fresh content because even though in some cases information doesn’t change much, and others it changes often enough that something written a year or two ago is no longer relevant.

    Thanks for sharing this great information!

    • I agree what you are saying, Grady. People who work honestly in their “search engine optimization” efforts will see goodness from Google and other major search engines in the long run, as long as they keep creating unique content, and staying the course in their daily creative blogging efforts. Like yourself, I too like the idea of creating fresh content, because I love engaging with people online, and also reading honest feedback from the content I create and publish. That’s the [ironic beauty of blogging] as well :-)

  17. The reality of the Panda update was a lot of websites with new and original content were also thrown out with the bad for whatever reason. I think that they should have taken a little more time with this update and hope they get it completely fixed soon.

  18. 2012 is going to open a new phase and lots of opportunities for bloggers, i have a personal target to achieve in 2012… im so excited…

  19. I think that most successful bloggers aren’t worried about the algorithm change. The main reason is that they are the ones that are writing fresh, original content regularly. As long as you are keeping up with fresh and original content, you should be fine. The algorithm change isn’t targeting those kinds of blogs. They are targeting the blogs that are trying to game the system with duplicate content and keyword stuffing. Stay away from the black hat and grey hat tactics and you should be fine.

  20. It’s awful and pitiful,sometime you on top and than today you gone,blogging now it hard than it looks,it’s need super motivation to keep strive on

  21. On one hand, I’m pleased that content quality and relevance are taking front-and-center positions in Google’s results, but on the other, it can work in unfair ways. I want my blog to be eclectic, so apart from posting a variety of essays and articles, I include short stories that I believe readers will enjoy. The fictional topics vary, and rarely are there any effective keywords in the titles or text, so in spite of presenting hard-earned content, the progress with Google appears to be sideways. Perhaps Google will never be able to recognize excellent content in all situations.

  22. Hi,

    Your analysis made it easy for me to understand the changes that have taken place and where I need to focusing my energy in 2012. I’m hoping 2012 will help all real bloggers. Thanks for this overview. Sally

  23. This is a great post, a really good summary of all the Panda changes and what will be expected of us from now on. I agree that getting the spammy websites off the first few results can only be a good thing!

  24. Good wrap-up of the updates. Its is good to see that google is doing positive moves toward a fair system. It never made sense to me that people who are illegitimately spamming and using black hat SEO tactics were being rewarded with high page ranks.

  25. taylormade r11 irons

    I really welcome all these changes as real work can get value.I think a lot of these changes by Google are good. I’m just curious about what you said about article databases losing their link value.

  26. I have closely observed that blogs went down in ranking perspective but one thing is appreciable, Google separated blog and its content from regular searches. It can be found in Blogging category. Google’s new updates helped websites which are added live chat button.

  27. I think Google just want to emphasize quality and fresh content more than SEO as this is what people are looking for when they browse the internet. I can’t thank Google enough for punishing those black hat SEO guys who create blogs just for search engine rankings. Although ranking is important, it should be a bonus and your aim must be to provide info for readers. This post is a great example of it. Thank you very much cause I learned a lot!

    • I’ve already caught one site stealing my content and they rewrote it with an article spinner, as if they originally wrote it, and have the nerve to put text ads around the content too. Content thieves are nothing more than straight losers.

  28. Cristian Balau

    Well, I think everything should be fine as long as you know what you are doing. This means unique, updates, quality content for every website you own and if you stay away from any blackhat methods you should be fine.

  29. I think the freshness update favors the large brands too much. Small time blogger can never keep up with the content generation speed of large media organizations. I think blogger who are covering current trends will get hit a lot by this.

    • Mason Stoller

      I agree with you, the freshness update does promote larger, authority sites in the searches. From Google’s standpoint, a lot of those authority sites are producing the best content and user experiences in a given niche. I think the bloggers that can write equal or better content, at a consistent basis, can compete for top rankings and organic traffic volumes.

      I think a small blogger can still compete, you’ve just got to dedicate more time to writing and keeping your post count up.

      • And, whenever bloggers see progress made in search engines from their unique content efforts, that alone is enough motivation to keep going the extra positive mile, in blogging away uniquely to your heart’s content =)

  30. As long you are concentrating on fresh and original content, you don’t have to worry about your blog. As the quality of your content will bring the traffic for you. Moreover if it is a unique one then you can think of more visitors in your site. All that matter is a well design and optimize blog that delivers some unique and fresh contents.

  31. Interesting post. It’s beginning to sound like anyone in on-line business is a Google slave. We sleep with one eye open trying to see what Google’s Algorithm does next. Despite the frequent changes there are still many sites out there with little or no substance that rank high on Google’s SERPs with good PRs. Well lets see what 2012 brings.

  32. As video and podcasts have little SEO value it is important to also fill out an article with 200+ words of quality content surrounding a video or audio podcast as well. Unique and original content alone isn’t enough to bring traffic, obviously competition as well as so many other factors apply but one thing is clear. Duplicate content is pointless any longer, and it is better to put anything said in your own words and link back to the source.

  33. As long as your content is unique, and updated frequently, than blogging is a great way to improve your SEO strategy. Another great part of blogging is that it’s easy since there are no guidelines as to what to talk about and how long it has to be!

  34. I wonder how many people actually are saying to themselves “This Panda update really improved the results”…. I feel like the regular google users, not SEO experts, don’t even know that an update happened. They probably already thought that google gave them the best user friendly results. Panda does not affect people that use google to search, it affects those who use it to promote a business

  35. hello
    thnx for ur anaylisi google panda affect on 2011 is so bad for every blogger most of the people lost their traffics but this time evrything is fine now ..thnx for this share

  36. Danny

    Great article Mason.
    It actually answers a question I’ve been having.
    The site that I’m linking to here, is an affiliate site for one product type.
    I was ranking number one for all the keywords I aimed for, but I rank number 2 and 3 for 2 important keywords now because I didn’t do any linking to them for over a week.
    I doubt that my competition is building links faster and better than me.
    But now I see what is the problem.

    Nexttag is one site that outranked me again. And that is probably because they add fresh content a lot. The annoying part is that the fresh content probably has nothing to do with the product that they are ranking above me with.
    This makes it very difficult for “specialized” or focused affiliate sites like mine to rank above sites that are much wider and thus have a lot of updates.

  37. I guess, the only way to survive is to keep track of what all algo changes google brings so that you are prepared with the outcome. Not to mention, the other routine things ofcourse need to be taken care of which are – unique content and fresh content.

  38. I think with the way Google has changed, and the way it will change even more, we’ll be looking at a massive emphasis on how visitors react to the site. It’s time to stop trying to trick Google by creating a site that appeals to search engines, and start working with them by building a site that appeals to visitors.

  39. Well…Google changes, the Internet changes…I think it is a kind of evolution – nothing lasts forever… but I suppose that all these changes don’t affect blogs in a bad way…

  40. Wonderful post. You have said it all – Quality and consistency are two features Google is always looking for. At the last phase of Panda, one of my blogs was hit and it affected me a lot. However, as a person, I don’t think the Panda is effective because in this act, Google has drained good and wonderful blogs down the gutter. But the fact remains, when Google changes, we change!

  41. I’m glad I found this article. I have been hit pretty badly in the last couple of months by I guess some scraped content on an autoblog site. Time to move with the times and get all google friendly for 2012.

  42. I am not all that worried about all the Google updates. At first I was a little worried but from all the research I did, I found that they were mostly safe. The sites that complained about the updates were sites I felt were of poor content or sites that had duplicate content.

    My advice is simple. Create great original content. Post new content at least once a month. Get rid most of your ads. If you have a lot of affiliates and you want keep them on your site- create a resource page, continue to build backlinks and avoid black SEO techniques.

  43. Faissal Alhaithami

    Great post Mason, actually we have to work hard on our content! and I see that there is not point to be worried about google updates as long as we create the website content ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing this post.

  44. The other point to add if that if your backlinks come from a site that has been pandalised, for example the article directories, you might be collateral damage even though your own site is fine.

    Panda seems to be big on who you associate with and who associates with you.

  45. Thanks for writing this article Mason, it’s a good list of “best practises” to live by when blogging. Ultimately I think this is good news for all, as it ensures good quality content becomes more widespread, benefitting readers and those that spend their time writing original and unique works.

  46. Hi!

    Omg wow. I have so much to learn. I’m literally just starting up my blog with my GF… I think I’ve just been penalizing the website rankings rather than help them! Silly out-dated SEO books. I think I’m going to learn a lot from your website :)


  47. Thanks for the article, Mason!

    As a Google user (ha! who isn’t?), I appreciate the updates. Nothing is more frustrating than wasting time with low-quality, “informative” websites. This is just further encouragement to create fresh, unique, consistent content.

  48. This was one of the most intersting posts i’ve come across. My blog is 2 years old and grew so quickly but i took a 5 month break when i decided to move house….came back to it and my blog had sunk like a stone in the search results and i’ve been trying to find out why. sounds like the break hit me hard because it hadn’t been updated for so long. would you agree this is likely? if so i’m a great case study for why you should blog regularly. Question is can i now gain google favour or should i start again?

  49. Google is a really famous SEO. I’m sure updates by Google affect blogging. What I do not understand is do they really have a direct relation? I mean Google can definitely be used for searching different blogging sites; however, don’t you think promoting blogging sites using other social media networks will prove more convenient?

  50. I believe Google did a great job developing these algorithms and I for one am happy they are so strongly focused on giving searchers the quality content that they are searching for instead of crap websites that are in it just for the eyes and advertisement.

    I try to post at least twice a week on my website and all the content is from the tasks I faced on a weekly basis. Once I complete a new task or daunting task I’ll write about it to hopefully help those in the same position.