Google’s official twitter feed recently announced the Panda 3.8 update, Google’s most recent modification to Search. Panda 3.8 makes no changes to Google’s search algorithm; the update is a “data refresh,” in which Google reruns all of the data is has collected from crawling and indexing sites through its current algorithm. Data refreshes typically affect fewer searches than changes the Google algorithm. Google says that the data refresh had significant effects on less than 1% of US searches and about 1% of worldwide searches. It is the second such update this month.
And for the first time ever, live users are getting the chance to rate their search results. Google has been using internal human reviewers and raters as a tactic to refine its search algorithm for many years, but Google has never given live Google users the opportunity to rate the results that they see on the SERP. The five level rating system, which ranges from “very dissatisfied” to “very satisfied”, has only been spotted a few times and seems to be made randomly available to Google users using Search.
The timing of this opportunity, as limited as it may currently be, will give Google Search users the power to voice their opinion on post Panda 3.8 searches. While Google may claim that the latest Panda 3.8 update affects a small percentage of searches, Google has made this claim after data refreshes before in spite of the fact that many sites claimed that they saw significant drops in rankings.
The timing of the release of both Panda 3.8 and the user rating function show that Google is taking the user’s opinion of results seen on the SERP into more consideration as it continues to update its most popular and ubiquitous product. Google has been issuing consistent updates via both Panda and Penguin in an effort to refine its search algorithm and provide the best quality results to its users. Google had previously considered the “human element” that users bring to the SERP in a much more limited function. This effort was contained within the confines of the Google campus. The rating system has only been spotted in “the wild” a few times; so far it is unclear how much data Google has collected and what they will be doing with it. It does seem clear that Google is concerned with ensuring that users are still seeing quality results in light of the many changes Google has made over the last six months.
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