Do you ever wonder how certain sites pop up on the first page of Google? Well, the short answer is SEO. Basically, Google has this algorithm that mixes various factors together before spitting out which websites will be most beneficial for you based on your search. Over the years, Google has added new factors and updates to this algorithm to ensure that they are maintaining the best results that you expect. All of the updates make sense and seem to be helping them reach their goal, however one thing nobody can really pinpoint is why Google names these updates what they are named. Recently, the names have been Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon. We are now going to analyze what these updates consisted of and we are going to do our best to figure out Google’s logic in the naming process.
Let’s do this chronologically. Way back in 2011, Google released their Panda update. This update was intended to halt websites with poor content from sneaking their way into the top search results. Now, why did they name this Panda? Well, the boring explanation is that it was named after one of its creators, Navneet Panda. I think that there is another explanation. As many of you may or may not know, a group of pandas is called an embarrassment. Theoretically, wouldn’t Google be embarrassed if the websites that are making it to the top search results page had awful content? Maybe they were trying to save the embarrassment and thought because that is what a group of pandas is called that it fit perfectly.
Around April of 2012, the Penguin update was released. The purpose of this update was to catch sites that were trying to spam search results by buying links or obtaining them through networks specifically designed to boost Google rankings. I couldn’t find anything as to why Google named this update Penguin, so I’m just going to jump into why I think this name was chosen. Contrary to popular belief, penguins do not just live in cold environments. Penguins can be found in areas like South Africa and other warmer places. This could be why they chose this name. Knowing penguins can survive in a multitude of environments, there is no place on the web for these shady links to hide. The Penguin update will hunt them down and make sure to maximize user’s search results.
Back in September of 2013, Google released what they called the Hummingbird update. This update truly focuses on what is being searched rather than just some key words. Google aimed to improve upon the relevancy of all of the words in the search query rather than just a select few. Now to figure out why it is named this. Well, hummingbirds are the only animal that can fly backwards. This is due to the fact that they hover rather than fly like any other bird. Anyways, Google’s update zeros in on making sure the search results match the search query, almost fulfilling the task backwards. Instead of taking the search query and matching results to it, Google takes the pages and matches them best to the query. So there is that connection!
The last update we are covering today came out in 2014 and was named the Pigeon update. In short, this update was intended to improve upon their location and distance ranking parameters. The name Pigeon seems to fit quite nicely with this one because pigeons tend to stay within their home region and that is exactly what Google wanted to upgrade with this update. They actively enhanced the relevant and accurate search results for everyone.
Overall, we can agree that Google has some peculiar reasons as to why they name their updates what they are, and these are only a few. Some people think they are all named after animals, or maybe they are all named with words starting with the letter P. Both of these trends hold up, however there is always one or two oddballs out disproving the theory. No matter what Google’s naming trend is, we know that their updates always help tremendously with our, and everybody’s, search results.