Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird: does this ring a bell?

As most of you know, Google is the biggest search engine in the world. Especially here on mainland Europe most of the internet users are Google users. 

Google is always trying to give you the best answer to your search questions. This means they want to show you a list of pages in your organic search results on which you find an answer to your question within the first few pages. Google does this by crawling all sites and see what is on it. The results shown are based upon very complicated algorithms. These algorithms are updated regularly to keep this list of search results interesting for you as a visitor.  

There is a lot to tell about how Google searches and what you can do to have a good ranking in the search results. I have written a bit about that in another blog called "SEO basics for estate agents

In this blog I want to give you a short introduction about three major Google updates to their search algorithms and how this might influence the position of your website in these results. The updates are called Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird.

Google Panda was released in February 2001. The aim of this update was to lower the rank of sites that offered low quality content and to let higher quality sites rank higher. Sites that had loads of advertising on them ranked significantly lower after this update compared to for instance news sites with a lot of good quality content on them.

Google has provided a list of 23 bullet points on its blog answering the question of "What counts as a high-quality site?". Most of these bullet points have to do with the quality of the content on the site.

Google Penguin is de name that Google gave to their algorithm update that was announced in April 2012. This update to the search algorithm aims to decrease ranking of websites that do not follow the rules that are set by Google's webmaster guidelines. They declared some SEO techniques as Black Hat techniques that should not be used. A few examples of Black Hat SEO are keyword stuffing, using hidden content or links, link farming, and the use of doorway or gateway pages.

Google Hummingbird was the last major change to the Google algorithms. They started using it in September 2013. Hummingbird is about contextual search. This means that Google tries to determine the intent of the person that carries out the search: they try to determine what they are trying to find out. The algorithm judges the context of the search and matches it to the location of the visitor, if you have shared that information with Google (are you logged in to your Google+ account when you are searching or not? Do you clear you cache of cookies every now and then?)

Hummingbird underscores the importance of user intent over pure keyword based interpretation and is therefore much more intelligent. It tries to answer the needs of someone looking for information on Google, instead of only presenting facts.

As you can read, Google is constantly improving their algorithms in order to provide users with the highest quality webpages related to their search queries. Therefor it wants to block or low rank sites that provide poor quality content, user experience or false intents.


This also means that website owners need to be constantly aware of these changes, how this might influence their rankings and how to avoid any damage to their online presence.











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