Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird

Search Engine Optimization

A Changing SEO Landscape

In the early days of SEO businesses involved in active Search Engine Optimization could simply purchase backlinks, and credibility to increase organic search results.

However, with changes to modern algorithms, major search engines (mainly Google!) have defined a new landscape in the world of Organic Search.

Within the last few years, the changes to algorithms in search engines dubbed Panda, Penguin & Hummingbird have define a paradigm shift to reward websites that have a true service or offering on any keyword-related topic. These changes have been put in place to reward businesses who give search engine customers the highest quality results to real businesses, services, products and more, that actually pertain to searchers request.


What’s an algorithm anyway?

In simple terms, a search engine algorithm is a step-by-step process by which a computer finds an item or collection of items that are stored as records in a database.

These algorithms allow search engine companies to tweak and adjust organic search results to serve customers with more accurate or targeted results.


Why does an algorithm matter to my website?

If your online presence is involved in any type of search engine optimization or increased online visibility, search engine algorithms are impacting you more than you know.

With recent changes to Google’s algorithms in the last few years with updates like Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, small business websites have experienced powerful changes to organic rankings, often in a negative capacity.

As major search engines adjust rankings to reward “relevant” websites, businesses who have paid for backlinks on link farms, created duplicated content to fool search engines and used other borderline “black-hat” SEO practices have seen decreasing organic traffic from existing optimization efforts.

In many cases, businesses hired help with SEO and without even knowing it were forced into what are now labelled as “deceptive” or poor SEO practices by modern search engine standards.


So what have Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird changed?

The changes that the most major algorithm edits have impacted are quite sweeping.

Panda, the first major update of the three considered herein, was released in February of 2011. In this massive update, Google targeted link farms and major link factories that were given top billing on organic searches. These link farms aggregated information from any sources, oftentimes many stealing content from other sites to create massive numbers of pages for maximum search inclusion. Panda was all about site quality and while originally intended to affect large link farms, the repercussions were felt among websites of all shapes and sizes. The Panda update can most generally be described as having affects on the following:

  • Thin Content – Pages with thin content is basically webpages that add no value to the visitor. Having multiple pages with one or two sentences of content, or stolen content, would constitute as “thin content” .
  • Duplicate Content – Panda specifically addressed the importance of duplicate content. Whether your site is duplicating content from other websites or simply duplicating your own personal content from page to page, Panda officially made duplicated content a big no-no!
  • Low-Quality Content – Content that is poorly written, overly keyword stuff and generally un-useful to visitors was red-flagged with Panda updates.

Penguin, the second major update was published in April of 2012. Its primary purpose was to clean up the linking process and reward websites that have natural, valuable links that set them apart from their competition.

Links are the basis of distribution throughout the web. If a site has links from highly respected websites, this builds credibility for the site that is being linked to. On the other hand, if a website has tons of low quality, unnatural links, it shows search engines that there is less of a reason to reward that business with higher search engine results.

With the Penguin update, tons of small businesses who had spent time and money in SEO were punished for what were deemed as “unnatural” links. With this update the purchasing of links and being parts of link farm operations became a thing of the past for any business committed to organic SEO results.

Hummingbird, the last update we will examine, is the most recent of these major algorithm upgrade. Instead of taking on specific components of the Search process in the way that Panda and Penguin did, the Hummingbird update completely overhauled the search process to more specifically target users unique queries.

The goal of the Hummingbird update was to better interpret what a user is asking when a search inquiry is typed into Google. While this update did impact the way that sites were being indexed, it highlighted the need for websites to create fresh, engaging content to contribute to better search results.


Have more questions about SEO and algorithm updates?

At Not Fade Away, we love helping small businesses with effective “white-hat” SEO practices. Our team enacts comprehensive SEO strategies that assist online businesses with an expanded reach rom an organic perspective.

Need help? Give our experienced team a call today and tell us about your project!


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