When it comes to updates, Google is not the one to shy away from improvements. So, the million-dollar question is: what exactly is Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird? Animals or algorithms? Well, in this particular scenario, the three fall in the latter category. They are algorithms crafted by the industry giant Google in a bid to generate more relevant responses to the new search trends that are now part and parcel of the consumer behaviour.
In order for your website to land in Google’s good books, it is crucial to understand these algorithms in and out. As they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, we are now going to get a grip of these three algorithms. By understanding the purpose of each of these algorithms, we will help you find out what you need to do to iron out all those wrinkles that stand between you and your website’s everlasting success. Hop on the machine to embark on a ride to Google’s animal kingdom.
Panda - cute or cruel?
Emerging on the SEO scene in February 2011, Panda was an update to Google’s existing algorithm code. Focused at keeping low quality content websites from ruling the ranking charts, Panda demoted all those websites that fell short of providing valuable and relevant content to readers.
Fortunately, the Panda update was not as cruel as one may be led to believe. Updates were launched so as to allow penalized websites to join the race to the top once again. For instance, if a website acknowledges its mistakes and makes an effort to rectify them by publishing meaningful content, the Panda update might embrace you with arms wide open. If you start noticing a surge in your impressions, you can pat yourself on the back. You were hit by the release and now back in the game.
How to make Panda love youFirst and foremost, break the vicious cycle of copy-pasting content off someone else’s website or blog. Say no to duplicate content. Clear your website of any automatic content generating methods. Fine tune content on your website and keep an eye open for grammatical errors.
How to tell if you’ve been a victim of Panda’s wrath?Are your page views and impressions taking a dip? E-commerce websites are an easy target for Panda because having a unique description for every single one of the listings takes time and effort. If you have been a victim of Panda, don’t panic. Instead, to regain your footing, channel all your energies into creating high-quality unique content. Another idea is to remove all those pages you think can keep you from recovering quickly.
Penguin - lovely or lethal?
Following Panda one step at a time, the Penguin reared its head almost a year after Panda’s release in April 2012. Looks do deceive because as harmless as this update may seem, behind the innocence lies the ninja that intended to retaliate all those websites blossoming with the use of spammy content and shady linking techniques.
Giving ranking manipulators a taste of their own medicine, it demoted all those websites that failed to understand the difference between optimisation and overkill. So, what exactly falls under the umbrella of spammy content? If you are forcefully inserting keywords in your content, if you are using links that lead to nowhere relevant or important and if you have always championed link farms, you have left no stones unturned to earn the Penguin’s anger.
Penguin 2.0 was released on May 22nd 2013 which affected more websites than the Penguin 1.0 update (Matt Cutts chats about the update in this video here).
How to convince Google into giving you one more shot?Get down to the task and start producing relevant content. Please your target audience and employ the modern marketing mix of PR, infographics, videos and social media and you will easily have a website that will serve as a synonym for success.
How to find if you have been hit by Penguin?It’s simple. Search your domain name on Google. If you receive a listing of all pages on your website, congratulations! You are clear. However, if you receive a message that says something like nothing found, it’s time to get into action as you have been demoted by Google for hosting spam content.
Hummingbird - the new tool in Google’s ever-growing arsenal
Unlike Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird is not an update but rather an entirely new algorithm Google proudly released on 27th September 2013 to mark its 15th birthday. While Hummingbird had been in use since 30th August, 2013, the change was only announced on 26th September.
The way consumers search for information is now changing. In order to take search effectiveness to an entirely new level, Hummingbird was introduced. Incorporating the key features of Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird will allow consumers to find you faster, provided you are doing a great job at creating engaging, relevant, unique and high-quality content that audience approve and appreciate.
Hummingbird was introduced to accommodate the conversational search that is now a prevalent trend. Consumers are now using Google voice or Siri to initiate search. Instead of searching for ‘cheap hotels in Birmingham, they now search ‘where can I find cheap hotels in Birmingham’. Instead of offering keyword-based results, Hummingbird rewards websites that answers these questions with realistic results.
With sole focus on need and intent, Google is no longer looking for keywords. Rather it attempts to comprehend the intent behind the search query. To keep your website from falling on the wayside, knowing your target audience is more important than ever before. What is it that your audience is looking for? Was the information relevant to them?
Another aspect to realize is that like Penguin and Panda, Hummingbird doesn’t penalise. It simply rewards websites on accuracy, speed and relevancy. While Hummingbird is still in the cradle, tweaks and updates will soon be introduced to elevate its effectiveness to new heights.
Bottom-line is, you have just uncovered the secrets to sustained SEO successes. To become Google’s best friend, make sure you have a website with content that benefits its audience. Give your audience whatever it is they are looking for and watch your ranking soar high in Google Zoo.