Google has released many algorithm updates in the past several years that are quickly changing the way search engine optimization works on a fundamental level. Here are a few things everyone needs to know about the latest changes to Google algorithms and how these affect search engine results.
Google Algorithms: Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, and Pigeon
The latest major changes to the Google algorithm may have whimsical names, but they are changing the way search engines select results based on changes in the behavior of internet users. For instance, more people are using smartphone or tablet browsers and apps for their searches. In addition, local search and social media are both increasing important to Google users. The recent changes deal with these and other shifts in online culture.
Panda was the first of Google’s recent attempts to overhaul their algorithm to accommodate changes in internet use. It targeted content that has multiple duplications or has not been updated. The goal is to prioritise fresh and unique content.
Penguin was implemented to penalise spam websites. It dropped the ranking of websites that were over-optimised, such as those with inbound links from a variety of questionable websites. In addition, it dinged sites with unnatural keyword use, such as high keyword density in titles, footers, and comments.
Hummingbird was an update focusing on user’s semantics to better predict the type of results they are seeking. For example, searches with natural sentences will have different results than those with a chain of keywords. In addition, the user’s past searches are taken into account more strongly.
Pigeon deals mainly with local searches. It prioritized Yelp and other review site listings. The result is that small businesses will often have their branded website come up after these review sites in results
Major Updates to Google Algorithm
Since these algorithm updates were instituted, there have been several major updates. 2014 was an especially heavy year for these.
February 2014: Google’s page layout was changed to lower the rankings of websites that put too many ads at the top of the page.
May 2014: A kinder, gentler Panda was rolled out, improving the search engine performance of small websites that are regularly updated with high quality content.
July 2014: Pigeon was rolled out, attempting to give more accurate local searches for businesses.
September 2014: Panda 4.0 was unveiled, filtering out low quality websites further.
October 2014: Pirate 2.0 began penalizing websites that are reported for copyright infringement.
Minor Updates to Google Algorithm
In addition to the major updates to the Google algorithm, there have been many minor recent updates. Most of these honed the major updates so they would be more effective and avoid penalizing small business websites less.
June 2014: Payday Loan 3.0 targeted queries associated with spam, while photos of authors were removed from search engine results.
August 2014: Authorship was removed from search engine results and websites with HTTP/SSL security were given ranking preference.
October 2014: Penguin 3.0 was a ‘refresh’ that raised the search engine ranking of websites that had removed spam in response to algorithm changes.
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