As usual, it’s been a busy few weeks in the world of search engine optimization. Google’s doing what it always does and is not only staying one step ahead of webmasters, but keeping all of us on our toes, too. Here’s the three biggest updates Google has made and what you need to know about them:

Say “Hello” to meta keywords again

It’s been a few years since Google phased meta keywords out from the signals used to determine page rank, but now they’re back at the forefront for select websites–news sites. In a blog post, Google announced what it’s calling “news keywords,” which is a new metatag that webmasters will be able to use in conjunction with their other SEO practices. The purpose of the news_keywords tag is to help Google users find better, more relevant news stories on Google News easier. This is what Google News Product Manager Rudy Galfi told Search Engine Land:

The goal is simple: empower news writers to express their stories freely while helping Google News to properly understand and classify that content so that it’s discoverable by our wide audience of users.

Similar in spirit to the plain keywords metatag, the news_keywords metatag lets publishers specify a collection of terms that apply to a news article. These words don’t need to appear anywhere within the headline or body text.

If you’re curious how to utilize these keywords, Google has a help page already set up for you.

Which Panda update is this?

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, Google did what it usually does every month and refreshed its Panda algorithm. The search giant tweeted that this update would only affect approximately 0.7 percent of all search queries. Not a very big number. Danny Sullivan notes that while this update might not have as heavy of an impact as past updates, webmasters and SEOs could see some flux in page rank over the coming days. We’ve been getting used to these monthly Panda refreshes, but there are other updates that webmasters across the globe should be more wary of, like Penguin.

Let’s get diverse!

Matt Cutts was kind enough to bring this Google update to us last week.

Like every update, Google is trying to improve the user experience and providing users with a more diverse (but still accurate) number of results is one of the best ways to do that. It’s clear that the Google experience is much more fluid than ever before that that it’s only going to get more fluid as time goes on. But don’t worry, we’ll keep you updated.

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