On 24th February our world changed. I watched aghast, like Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, as Google's most recent large algorithm update saw many websites' rankings (and therefore traffic) fall away. It's subsequent release to the rest of the world in April saw a similar effect. What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that for most websites, their rankings have only just begun to be effected.
In early May, many SEOs saw large fluctuations in their monitored rankings and niches. This most recent update, called either Panda 2.1 or 3.0, seems to be effecting many smaller websites. Whilst Google is eager to downplay the size of the most recent update, it is clear that for many people the effect may be worse than the initial release.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you have duplicate content issues then you really need to sort them out! Furthermore, Google's algorithm is increasingly becoming smarter at judging the quality of a website - no longer on just a content level, but also on a design level.
Recent updates to Google Analytics' tracking code include a new metric to measure page load speeds. This perhaps hints at another new metric Google will use to evaluate your website's quality. If a page takes too long to load then that's bad for visitors and if Google continues to send visitors to websites that have poor quality content and take an age to load then people will start to look for another search engine (hypothetically Google's reasoning - I'm pretty sure Google will never be toppled).
Whilst standard SEO techniques still stand, it is more important than ever to ensure your website has high quality, unique content that is genuinely engaging and insightful for users and visitors.