Lab Weekly: Pigeon, PageRank and Right to be Forgotten

Jodie King

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Has Pigeon been Rolled Back?

There has been much concern by small businesses about the impact of Google’s Pigeon update. It was packaged as a locally beneficial algorithm change that would give small businesses a boost when they had a strong local digital presence.
In reality, Google seem to have targeted large directories, boosted some sites using spammy NAP tactics and overlooked others that had a strong local footing for years. The results have been sporadic and while some sites have spiked others have seen no change.
A recent study done on search traffic from 57 different law firms sites compared average weekly traffic for 6 weeks post Pigeon to average weekly traffic for 8 weeks pre Pigeon. This is what they found:

‘With a few exceptions, the results are spectacularly uninteresting (which in and of itself is an interesting pattern)…more than half of the sites experienced a net growth in traffic – not what I would have expected given the initial expert histrionics around Pigeon.
More importantly, about two out of every three sites saw a traffic change of less than 20% – about par for the course for these smaller sites. One of the firms which experienced the biggest traffic growth is, in fact, an artless and flagrant geo-spammer. Turns out, there was no common thread (that we could ID) among the biggest winners and loser groups.’

They go on to conclude that Google also look to be rolling back the update. There are plenty of other experts that would argue Pigeon is still alive and well and showing no signs of rolling back. Have Google rushed Pigeon and not delivered what they promised this time? It may take time to get this one right but for now there are still some slightly concerned small businesses that would like to know exactly what is going on and when it is going to hit the UK which is still not clear.

Google Toolbar PageRank Finally & Officially Dead?

Google’s John Mueller has stated that Google probably won’t update Toolbar PageRank in the future. In October 2013 Matt Cutts suggested that we wouldn’t see another Google Toolbar, PageRand update before the end of that year. It seems they accidentally updated it in December 2013. Since then there have been no updates.
During a Google Webmaster Hangout video John Mueller said, ‘Well we are probably not going to be updating it [PageRank] going forward, at least in the Toolbar PageRank’.

Google gets ‘right to be forgotten’ order

A case in Japan resulted in the judge ordering Google to remove search results of a man’s unflattering past in a new “right to be forgotten” order. This followed a landmark ruling in Europe and further cements the “right to be forgotten” of people appearing in Google searches.
In May, Europe’s highest court ruled Google should delete references to negative past information, including old debts and past arrests. Since these landmark cases Google has received 18,304 requests from Britons asking for information to be removed.
The submissions came from more than 6,000 people who have asked for links to more than 60,000 websites to be removed. That is an average of 1,000 a day since the ruling was passed.
There is no doubting the controversy of this ruling which now covers 28 countries. Many of the requests have already been denied as people try and use it to improve their reputation and remove material that is not covered by the “right to be forgotten” ruling.
The exact interpretation is somewhat ambiguous and open to interpretation. Google must remove articles if the impact on the individual’s privacy is greater than the public’s right to find it. How does one measure that exactly?

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