How Panda, Siri & Bing Changed the Face of SEO in 2011

2011 has been a big year for search. In the past, Google has traditionally updated their search algorithms slowly and steadily. Likewise, the competition also traditionally changed their algorithm slowly. This year however, was different. All the search engines rolled out major game-altering changes.

Here are some of the most significant events of the year.

Google Panda Update

Google Panda Update

Perhaps the most impactful update of all was Google’s Panda update. Google’s Panda updated rolled out several important changes at once. The update itself is named after a Google engineer, whose actual last name is Panda.

One change was that Google implemented artificial intelligence into their ranking factors. In the past, the AI technology was already there, but it would have been too expensive and processor intensive to run on all their search queries. With the Panda update however, new algorithms made it possible to use AI on all their searches.

Using artificial intelligence, Google Panda can now decide whether or not a site is a high quality site, much like a human would. It can gauge design, gauge content quality and gauge a large number of other factors to determine whether or not a site deserves to rank.

Panda also takes into account social media metrics. Things like the number of links you have, the number of tweets you have and the number of votes you have on sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon. It can gauge whether people are saying positive or negative things, as well as the authority of the people tweeting about you.

Finally, Panda also increases the emphasis on site metrics. That means things like bounce rate, return rate, length of stay, etc all play a part in your rankings.

The Google Freshness Update

Google Freshness Update

In addition to updating their overall search algorithm, Google also updated their algorithm for searches that relate to time sensitive information.

For example, if you typed in the name of someone who was mentioned in a newspaper article, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to access that article or recent information about that person, rather than their static LinkedIn profile.

Google estimates that this will affect about 35% of their searches.

Siri Engine Optimization


With the launch of Siri, Apple has begun a revolution in search. Though Siri’s reach is still relatively small at the moment, it’s expect that the iPhone 5 and all future iPhones will come with Siri or something similar.

That means that Apple’s enormous base of phone users will eventually all be on Siri devices.

Optimizing your business for Siri is different than optimizing it for search engines. Many of Siri’s queries are longtail queries. Often time’s it’s about optimizing for local results rather than global ones.

Also, make sure you take advantage of Schema, the new structure for data that makes it easy for all kinds of search engines to figure out what your page is about.

Optimizing for Siri is still in its infancy. Get in on the ground floor now and you can claim a lot of mobile traffic when the technology takes off.

Microsoft-Yahoo Search Partnership

Microsoft-Yahoo Alliance

A merger between Yahoo and Microsoft’s search had been contemplated for a long time. This year, it was actually executed.

This had wide reaching implications. Instead of optimizing for three sets of search engine criteria, now you only need to optimize for two.

Also, paid advertisers now have the ability to advertise to a much larger user base by buying ads through Microsoft AdCenter, instead of having to go through both Yahoo and Microsoft.

Few believe that Bing will catch up to Google’s market share, even with Yahoo implementing its search technology. However, it would be foolish to ignore Bing optimization, now that they control such a significant share of searchers.

These are some of the most important updates of 2011. How SEO works has changed in a very fundamental way. Old school SEOs need to hit the proverbial textbooks again and start learning how these factors affect their businesses.

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