First, let’s really understand what an algorithm is. Basically, they are computer problem solving search tasks or recipes to return the best answers. Over the years, Google created a few algorithms named Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird that changed search engine land for a better and safer internet experience.
- Panda: Pandas are high maintenance in real life and in the SEO world! In 2011, Google introduced the Panda algorithm and it has been updated over 28 times to the fierce spam-fighting Panda it is today. Google confirmed last month that Panda is it’s official core ranking algorithm. Panda rewards high quality sites (link defines a high quality site) by improving the site’s page ranking and penalizes the low quality ones by reducing the site to a lower page rank.
Tip: Fear the Panda because your competitors do and they’re reaping the rewards. A good place to start would be to check if your website is mobile friendly, correct spelling, doesn’t have duplicate copy, and above all meaningful copy that is current. See links below for further details.
- Penguin: Penguin is the doorman, always dressed to impress! Introduced in early 2012, the Penguin algorithm is similar to Panda focusing on vetting your links for your site’s visitors. Penguin’s focuses on unnatural links and link schemes. Per John Mueller, a Google employee, Penguin determines if your entire site has trustworthy links and if not, your page ranking will be reduced if any links were manipulated.
Tip: Trust, quality, and reputation are just a few of the “on the page” factors needed to get into Google’s first page VIP arena. Penguin knows if you’re over linking your copy and no one is crossing the velvet rope if abuse is found.
- Hummingbird: Hummingbirds are nature’s search engine ninjas and precision and speed is the vital components for survival. Introduced on the eve of Google’s 15th anniversary in 2013, the fierce Hummingbird algorithm was Google’s new fuel injected engine stepping up to the plate. By crawling billions of webpages, Hummingbird focuses on the semantics of how search queries were entered. Note that Hummingbird did not replace Panda, or Penguin in any way. Like when a car has an engine rebuilt, Penguin and Panda are just the good parts that work perfectly with the much needed makeover.
Tip: Improve your content strategy for Hummingbird by thinking along the lines of why someone would use a search query phrase to find your content instead of what they are searching for. This new sophisticated searching is here to stay and content is still king, but knowing semantic phrases users would ask is the ace you need up your sleeve.
Hopefully you found this high-level overview of major players in the SEO world useful. Without going too deep in the ever evolving digital world you can always use the links below for deeper insight.
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
In order for your site to rank well in search results pages, it’s important to make sure that Google can crawl and index your site correctly. Our Webmaster Guidelines outline some best practices that can help you avoid common pitfalls and improve your site’s ranking. Google’s Did you mean and Google Autocomplete features are designed to help users save time by displaying related terms, common misspellings, and popular queries. Like our google.com search results, the keywords used by these features are automatically generated by our web crawlers and search algorithms. We display these predictions only when we think they might save the user time. If a site ranks well for a keyword, it’s because we’ve algorithmically determined that its content is more relevant to the user’s query.
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.