If you’ve heard references to Panda, Penguin or Pigeon from SEO-ers and website people and from context clues surmised that it doesn’t have to do with zoology but rather some kind of change to how Google works, you’re right. While Google doesn’t share their algorithm or exact details on the changes to it, they do share some basic information and SEO experts who closely follow the changes can give general information about the effects of each of the major updates.
First, what is an algorithm? It’s a technique/formula/procedure used to solve a problem – when we’re talking about Google’s algorithm, it’s the exact method that the search engine uses to decide where a website will show up in your search results (it’s how it decides how to order your search results). As you can probably imagine, it’s top secret.
Second, you should also know that Google changes it algorithm more than once a day, so there are constant changes (most are minor) to improve the search results you get from Google when you search for something.
Here’s a rundown of the most significant recent updates:
• Panda: The Panda update is actually a series of two dozen gradual updates since early 2011 to weed out low quality content. It helps keep sites with poor content out of the top of search results. Some SEO companies reported that some of the updates were pretty harsh and affected sites immediately, while other updates were a little gentler; but the average Google user probably didn’t notice much of a difference in their regular searching.
• Penguin: Penguin was a series of five spam fighting updates in 2012 and 2013. Penguin helps look for sites that are spammy but still rank well. It reportedly specifically goes after sites that may have purchased paid links. Some sites that were hurt by the update had to take steps to remove bad links or otherwise remove spammy content.
• Hummingbird: Hummingbird was one of Google’s most major algorithm changes; in fact, it was actually a replacement of the old algorithm, not just an update to an existing one (although it does incorporate components of the older algorithm). It was designed to return better search results and to better serve today’s search demands, with improvements to results in several ways. Google is getting better at understanding someone’s search, focusing on the meaning behind search words, and displaying results appropriately. As a result of Hummingbird, users get more targeted, specific results.
• Pigeon: Pigeon has to do with providing more useful, relevant and accurate local search results; it changed local search results rankings, with changes visible in Google Maps and Google Web search results. Local businesses may have noticed an increase or decrease in website referrals, leads and business following the update. It also improved the distance and location ranking within Google search results.
What does all of this mean to a business owner or marketer focused on their SEO? Nothing new, according to Google – keep publishing relevant, original, high-quality content for the best rankings.
If you’re looking for an SEO company to help with your website’s rankings, contact Marketing RELEVANCE today.