From Panda to Penguin, Pigeon, Hummingbird.
Understanding how they can work for you.
First off however smart your think your SEO strategy is it will never out smart Google’s Algorithms. Googles army of highly skilled coders are always several steps ahead of those who think they can manipulate the system. Regular updates of Google’s algorithms keeps them ahead of anyone trying to fake their way to the first page of google SERP.
Google is constantly changing its algorithms as much as 1 or 2 times a day 365 days of the year. In other words it would be impossible to out smart these boffins.
Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, Hummingbird
A bit like Apple’s animal naming policy for their Operating Systems iOS Mountain Lion, Snow leopard…etc. Google uses animal names to label their major filter updates. Over the years Panda, Pigeon, Penguin have been launched. Then just when we expected another animal beginning with letter ‘P’ they named their latest filter Hummingbird. Every major change is studied by SEO experts. They in turn modify their website design to optimise and appeal to the latest updates. We’ve listed the most well known here:
Google’s Panda Update (2011)
Emphasis on better quality content
The areas they updated were:
- Downgrading a poor quality website
- Penalizing any websites with similar or identical content.
- Rewarding quality versus quantity.
Google’s Panda main goal was to identify fake content farmers who harvest (or steal) content from multiple sites. Then gather it together to rearrange and repost on their own sites to increase their position on the ranking list. In an effort to rid the internet of fake and poor quality web content Panda successfully managed to up-rank good quality sites and down rank low-quality content sites.
It’s cleverness was the ability to assess and rank entire website content on each page and give it a rank based on overall quality.
It doesn’t penalise a site because of one page of poor quality content, it assesses at all pages together and gives a total ranking . The goal of Panda was to improve content so they released a guideline of things to do to optimize and enhance your website content. Here are a few of their pointers:
- Empty or thin pages with little to low value content usually few words and no images.
- Content that is too identical to another website i.e it’s been copy and pasted.
- Good content that’s applicable and relevant will be promoted by Panda
Google‘s Penguin update (2012)
Goal was to wage war on spammers.
The areas they updated were:
- Penalise websites with spam by down grading ranking.
- Removal of all spam links.
- Penalise paid links instead of earned links.
- Penalise websites with spam related link profiles
Penguin tasks was to penalise websites with fake backlinks by lowering the ranking of the websites that used unscrupulous ways to get better SERP Ranking. Because search engines rely on links to rank websites some dubious sites put unnatural links in place to try and fool algorithms.
Google’s Penguin affects approximately 3.1% searches which amounts to millions of websites with dodgy, unnatural, irrelevant links. As a consequence now the quality of backlinks is better because have to be earned naturally. Whereas before they were being paid for artificially. Before it’s introduction a lot of website owners manipulated backlinks by using fake paid or irrelevant links.
What is a link or a backlink and what does it do?
A backlink is like an accolade that increases your ranking and if a reputable website is linked to your own site. It gives you more credibility by this association to a better or higher ranking (like a positive rub-off effect).
Algorithms looks at ‘anchor text’ the text that is hyperlinked. For example a few words (3-5) that are highlighted with mouse-over (hover) they are an active link to another page. A website that is connected or getting linked with a anchor text. E.g ‘top tips for SEO improvement’ or ‘breakthrough SEO strategies’, will get the attention of Google who see that people are visiting your website by clicking on these anchor words.
Unscrupulous marketing people will try to manipulate ranking by creating links themselves to get google’s attention. Regardless of their origin or provenance they might be from low-quality websites but if the quantity is high then ranking will improve.
Penguin is clever and can detect home made links on a fake site. Then will down rank these sites connected to their own links.
Helpful SEO pointers:
Businesses pages there is no short-cut to getting high-quality content that is shared by respected websites. If you’re caught trying to cheat the system you will be penalized. If you notice unnatural links to your site you can take action and delete them to avoid detection from Google’s Penguin. There are some tools to use which will notify google to ignore these unnatural links.
Google‘s Pigeon (2014)
Monitor the ranking listings of a local word searches.
It does this by looking at the impact of both Google search and Google Maps. Pigeon looks at the users location to improve the search results page SERP . If the GEO positioning is active then Pigeon knows when to rank local or internationally.
local based websites owners (as opposed to regional or international) will take priority and in the search results which is a big deal and positive outcome for local businesses.
Most people thought their rankings would drop because it favours the location of a local user as the criteria or data used. They thought local directory listings will get priority before other regional or international websites.
Helpful SEO pointers
• Google Pigeon is is hugely beneficial for small local (location) based business listings. It gives you an SEO strategies option to develop location-based keywords to rank higher in local searches, both on Google Maps and Google Search.
Google‘s HummingBird (August 2013)
Provide better search results
Main goal for Hummingbird update is to provide better search results that are intuitively relevant to the search query (voice or typed). It’s clever because it uses a bit of psychology and word association to comprehend the overall meaning and inquiry of the search. It then provides results that add up to this meaning with appropriate content strategy. It affects 90% of search engine queries.
Initially there was some skepticism over Hummingbird algorithm filter negatively affecting ranking. However there is no evidence to support these claims. To recap this program is less of a filter and more of a search engine within a search engine (a Russian doll style). It establishes or attempts to understand the searchers meaning behind their search keyword(s). It caters to those using mobile voice search such as Siri .
Helpful SEO pointers:
To appeal to Pigeon algorithm you must generate quality content, appropriate, relevant and material. It should be content that predicts questions and provides genuine answers that (are not half baked) satisfy the potential question.