Google SEO Primer
Google’s mission, from its beginning, was to find the most relevant material based on user search terms. Its purpose was plain and simple.
In the early days, webmasters discovered ways to thwart Google’s ability to rank a site correctly based on content, links and freshness of content. Google countered with updates to its algorithms and thus the game was on. Because page rank is so critical for a site’s success many webmasters and digital marketers adopted questionable tactics that would pay quick dividends by taking advantage of gaps in the algo, thereby gaming Google’s ranking system by utilizing various methods including keyword stuffing and creating questionable backlinks. Searchers didn’t like the poor results and neither did Google. At the same time, businesses that wanted to follow best practices found it time-consuming and challenging to do so.
You see, Google didn’t want to send a user looking for genuine Amish furniture to a site that didn’t sell Amish furniture, or worse, no furniture at all. That was bad business for Google because they didn’t want users to stop using their search services and go to another search service – remember Alta Vista, NetScape, WebCrawler, Ask Jeeves, Lycos, MSN Search, Hot Bot, Excite……
What Are Hummingbird Penguin and Panda?
While all three “animals” are updates to Google’s search algorithm, Hummingbird was a change to the entire Google algorithm. It was a complete overhaul from top to bottom. Penguin and Panda were, and are, updates to specific sections of the algo and each has very specific missions that we will cover further below.
Launched in August of 2013, the mission of Hummingbird was to better understand voice query and provide the optimum search results for that method. Hummingbird was designed to be aware of contextual idiosyncrasies primarily in found in speech. As Google moved to provide voice-activated search, it realized that people spoke their queries differently than how they typed them. Hummingbird was designed to address these differences and ensure a high-quality search experience no matter if typed on a keyboard or spoken.
Launched on February 23, 2011, Panda was designed to ensure that high-quality sites would stand out in search results and that low-quality sites or those that used “black-hat” techniques would be demoted in rankings. Panda’s algorithm was designed to identify link farms and sites that had low-quality content. Panda would penalize those sites in its ranking. Because the links from link farms are of dubious nature and content farm material is not original and creates thousands of pages with the same content, link farms and content farms are not viewed favorably by Panda. A rule of thumb is to make all your content fresh and original and don’t use links that have little relevance to your content or products.
The Penguin we are referring to is not that cute aquatic bird that sports a tux daily. Rather, the Penguin we will be referring to is a specific part of Google’s algorithm. And it just received a new and “final” update. Its mission since April of 2012 is to seek and destroy (in rankings) those sites using inorganic links and demote such pages in its search rankings.
What New With the Latest Penguin Update?
Runs In Real-Time
With the newest update, Penguin runs in real-time, meaning that it will not receive updates as we know them – rather its data will be refreshed in real time. This means if your site ran afoul of Penguin, you no longer need to wait for Google to identify that you have made improvements. Penguin re-ranks your site almost immediately after you have taken corrective action.
Penguin now revalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals on the page and not applying it to the entire site. Now penalties on one page won’t contaminate and devalue the entire site. It gives a more even-handed ranking.
The above is just a brief into to the myriad of nuances and version updates that Google has released since its inception. With Google’s never ending quest to provide its users with the best search experience and its constant tweaking of its algorithm – it is an ongoing process to stay up to date. It is critical to be aware of updates to Google’s algorithms and adjust your SEO strategy accordingly. Not doing so will be detrimental to your website’s ranking and ultimately the traffic it draws from organic search.
Businesses looking for advice on how to best maximize their search engine ranking should seek out experienced Internet Marketing firms that have a strong focus on SEO and content management. SEO is one area of marketing and advertising that should not be an afterthought.
IMPROZ is a Houston-based Internet and digital marketing firm that provides a full suite of internet marketing solutions from web design, PPC, content management, content creation, expert SEO and more for its clients.