At the core of all search engines such as Google are algorithms for indexing and scoring Web content. Turning search queries into results, they can make or break your SEO campaigns.
1. What Are They?Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird are the names of Google search algorithms that rank Web pages by particular keywords. Each focuses on different rules to enforce and reward page quality, uniqueness, popularity, and other factors. All are updated and refreshed periodically to improve search results and prevent people from gaming the system.
2. Why Should You Care?
Understanding search engine algorithms can help build better websites, as well as keep Web developers and vendors from wittingly or unwittingly destroying your search results. I have seen people rank high on Google for numerous keywords and lose everything overnight due to an algorithm update.
3. How Do They Work?
Each works differently to influence SEO. Panda, released in 2011, demotes websites that use machine-generated or duplicate content to artificially cover large numbers of keywords. Instead, it rewards useful, readable content. Released in 2012, Penguin downplays sites with too many reciprocal links, paid links, guest blogs, forum links, and other spammy backlinks.
Hummingbird, released in 2013, incorporates the best of Panda and Penguin, helping Google evaluate longer search queries and the intent behind them. To optimize content for it, you need to develop reviews, tips, tutorials, and how-to guides that are fundamentally helpful to users.
Google also has a new algorithm called Pigeon, which focuses on local search results.
No one knows how many more beasts Google will roll out, but you will be a better marketer for knowing they exist—a little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to SEO.
Photo by Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tony Sziklai is chief technology officer for Moulton Logistics Management.
The above post originally was adapted from the Marketing Bits column in the January/February 2015 issue of ER magazine, with the original title “Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds.”