Get ready. Another big wave is coming. The SEO industry is all abuzz with news of significant Panda and Penguin updates at our feet. According to Search Engine Land, the first wash out is due this weekend with bigger ones to follow later in the year. So, we have to ask ourselves, what has Google neglected to address in previous updates that it might be targeting with this one? The idea that Google will be targeting additional link networks doesn’t seem like a big enough surprise to suggest the SEO community will be buzzing, thus we should consider Google might be targeting other questionable behavior that it has continued to allow to work.

Penguin Possibilities

  1. An improvement in paid link detection? The practice still continues so it’s safe to say it would interest Google to get better at detecting them. If a PR 1 site is acquiring a bunch of PR 6 back links, Google might consider those back links to be paid.
  2. The talk of Google authorship and the role it plays in allowing content to rank better may be underway.
  3. Google could decide to discount additional types of links such as forum links and bookmarks.
  4. Some speculate that branding is increasingly important and that combining the brand name with the target keywords will perform better than anchor text alone.
  5. Links that deliver traffic could be considered valuable and those that don’t could be considered poor quality.

Panda Possibilities

  1. With social becoming an increasingly important factor in determining whether a page is liked by visitors or not, Google might consider content that is not socially shared to be poor quality content.
  2. We’ve all been speculating about what Google means about quality. A wide variety of recommendations have been made, but no one can tell you a specific formula to reach Google’s high quality threshold. That threshold may become clearer as new sites are hit which were once considered high quality sites. Is it a certain word count, formatting or number of outgoing links?
  3. Panda might target sites and blogs that try to cover too many unrelated topics which really belong to different niches.

The jury is still out on what’s to come, but we should expect to see a lot of chatter in the coming weeks as the new Panda update hits and SEOers speculate on possible targets for Google’s algorithm update. It’s clear that Google is engaged in a battle with Facebook for social, so it would be no surprise to learn that a website’s Google Plus presence had increased in importance. I look forward to hearing more from the SEO community and hope we don’t see too many good sites negatively impacted from the fierce storm in our path.

Theresa Happe works with Afternic, the domain auction website offering domains for sale, parking services, appraisals and broker assistance.

What Will Googles Next Updates Bring?