Google is the king of the search engine world, which is why everything it demands is treated as law and implemented in haste. If its subjects, i.e. SEO experts and the websites they work on, hesitate or delay taking action, they are bound to be executed, which in Google terms means being added to the bottom of the search results pages. To remain faithful to Google and be rewarded accordingly, you need to be aware of its algorithms and the updates they undergo.
Google’s algorithms are the tools the search engine uses to ensure relevant and helpful results to its users. Currently, three dominate the SEO sphere: Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. To learn more about each, read on.
The Panda Algorithm
Despite being launched in February 2011, the Panda Algorithm is used till date. Through this algorithm, the search engine would target websites that published low quality content and penalize them whenever possible. It was this update that established the power of content, making it one of the top factors for evaluating and analyzing websites.
Following its release, Panda checked Google’s index for websites that had duplicates or numerous ads. It also skimmed through websites to detect those that employed wrong techniques like black-hat SEO. Fortunately, the websites that were penalized had a chance to recover.
SEO specialists had to create original content that added value to its readers. They also had to get the ad ratio right as well as carry out regular SEO audits to ensure the lack of empty pages, broken links and internal duplicates. With Panda surviving till date, it’s important that you ensure that the issues it addresses are taken care of or else the amount of organic traffic to your site will be reduced.
The Penguin Algorithm
Issued in April 2012, the Penguin Algorithm was designed to update its predecessor and complement its efforts to counter poor content by detecting maligned and black-hat SEO practices. Through this update, Google aimed to catch websites that were spammy, overly-optimized or keyword stuffed to penalize them.
The Penguin update specifically tackled websites that used the following wrong practices for their link building efforts:
- Over-optimized inbound links
- Link Farms
- Links from article marketing websites that contain thin content and anchor text links to a website
- Reciprocal links and poor quality inbound links with irrelevant partners
In 2013, Google refreshed the Penguin update to allow it to dig deeper into websites and determine if they’re using spam or suspicious link building techniques to attract traffic.
While this meant a lot of hassle for SEO specialists, it helped companies brand themselves more effectively using unique content and quality links.
The Hummingbird Algorithm
Despite being released in August 2013, the Hummingbird update was announced in September just in time to celebrate Google’s 15th anniversary. True to its namesake, this algorithm was designed to ensure speed and precision. One way of doing so is by allowing Google to recognize full question searches rather than just parse specific keywords. As a result, Google is now able to rank the answers of question searches, more effectively.
Hummingbird also embraced a new fashion in delivering results. For example, via Google Voice, users can search for a number of things, starting from the best cinemas and all the way to the nearest Chinese take-out joints. This ensured the search engine’s ability to respond to users’ actual search intent and ultimately deliver relevant data.
How to Make Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird Work for You
Now that you know about the three Google updates used today, you need to adapt your SEO strategy according to them to succeed. To give you a nudge in the right direction, here are five strategies you should incorporate.
- Avoid Low Quality Content and Duplicate Content Within Your Site – Make sure to produce unique and fresh content for all the pages on your website. You should also use robots.txt to hide any duplicate pages until you fix them.
- Create Textual Content if Your Website Lacks These – Keep your articles long and detailed to add value to your readers. You should especially fill your interaction-aimed pages with readable content. These aside, create rich media content like videos and images and format it in a way that makes it visible to search engines.
- Forget about Keyword Stuffing and Find a Reasonable Keyword Density – Don’t stuff keywords in your page title, meta description, or H1. Fit only a few keywords in proper sentences and avoid trying to get them on every page or every subtitle.
- Optimize Your Content According to Users’ Informational, Navigational and Transactional Needs – Searchers usually seek at least one of three things. Informational content is for general information, navigational for finding sites on the web, whereas transactional is for running certain transactions. You should create different types of content for each of these and optimize them with conversational phrases people use in mind.
- Expand Your Keyword Research – Don’t stick to specific keywords and key terms. Instead, search for related keywords, acronyms and spelling variants of the keywords you use. You can also turn to Google Suggest for keyword ideas.
If you’re on the right track, you won’t have to worry about Google penalizing your website. Therefore, make sure to discuss these five with your SEO provider and determine how they can safely navigate your web presence through these three updates.