Google has a reputation for shaking-up the SERPs with its updates. There was Hilltop, Florida, Bourbon, Jagger, Big Daddy and the more recent changes in rankings that started around the start of June have been officially dubbed the “Buffy” update.
The naming of this particular update is out of respects for Vanessa Fox leaving Google and the update seems to be currently targeting single word search results.
Webmaster World are currently discussing the update on their forum and one of their admin’s quote:
But something quite major is now going on with the Google SERPs. Members are reporting major changes in the single word search results, most particularly, but lots of other things are stirred up as well. On one of my single keywords, I’ve just passed wikipedia (yeah!) and jdMorgan reported the same for one of his keywords.
Matt Cutts from Google doesn’t consider these recent changes to be a major update, stating:
historically speaking, summer is a good time to incorporate ideas into search, but I wouldn’t consider that an update myself. We do always reserve the right to tune our scoring algorithms or change the weight of different factors, even if it only affects a fraction of queries (things such as single-word queries).
Whether Matt acknowledges this as an “update” or not, Google have made some formal updates to their Webmaster Guidelines and specifically state:
- Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
- Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
- Don’t send automated queries to Google.
- Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.
- Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
- Don’t create pages that install viruses, trojans, or other badware.
- Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
- If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.
Along with the guidelines update, they’ve also included a “Report paid links” tool in their Webmaster Central Tools.