There haven’t been any Penguin updates this last month, but Google Panda 3.9.1 happened on August 20, 2012. We didn’t see any impact to most client rankings.
Penguin v1.2 update is still expected to happen any day now, and (Google Spokesperson) Matt Cutts says to expect a bumpy ride. The early revisions of Panda were wild and somewhat “wooly”.
Is page 1 top 7 now?!
Around mid-month, Google started showing only 7 results, and from fewer sites, for a good chunk of queries(Estimated: 18%). Page 1 now means “top 7” for many searches. The percentage of users clicking through from positions 8-10 has been negligible in most studies, but this is a major change in how results are displayed and another clear departure from the 10 blue links of yesteryear.
Change is the rule
Rankings are more volatile than ever. One SEO shared: “Something like 80% of the Top 10 SERPs we measure change every night, to some degree.”
On August 10, Google posted 86 changes they made in June and July. Many were small, but those of interest to us involve the boosting of “trusted sites” (usually means large brands) as well as changes to sitelinks. The new clustering and boosting of trusted sites is often creating monopolies for larger brands. Google used to only show 2-3 links maximum from the same website. Now it is possible for larger brands to dominate the top 7 or 8 results.
“Transition Rank” Patent Application
Google has a new patent application regarding “transition rank.” It’s aimed at punishing Black Hat SEO techniques through random ranking changes: “Some of the techniques used by rank-modifying spammers include keyword stuffing, invisible text, tiny text, page redirects, META tags stuffing, and link-based manipulation.” Many SEOs are speculating this has been part of the algorithm for some time.