Penguins, Pandas, and Hummingbirds…Oh My!
Google’s major search updates are notoriously named after different zoo animals. They roll out roughly every year and are designed to keep webmasters on their toes. They are designed to change how Google interprets the data it finds and how it presents search results. One of the most overlooked items however, is what the updates actually change. In this article we will look into the changes Google has made and how it affects you.
First rolled out in 2011, the Panda update is aimed at weeding out sites with low-quality or duplicate content. In the pre-Panda era, it was possible to churn out a bunch of unreadable content, stuff it with keywords and still rank high in Google. These days are long gone now.
To avoid possible penalties, webmasters should avoid using articles published on other sites. You should seek to write your own content, or use CopyScape if outsourcing your content. Another important aspect of content is to keep it knowledgeable and not shallow. You want to increase your engagement with your audience and that is simply not going to happen with a brief article with little to no useful information.
Writing articles that are related to your niche or industry, allows Google to crawl your website for more content, thus giving you a chance to insert more relevant keywords. In addition, content allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your niche.
Google Panda is one of the main reasons almost every website on the web has a blog nowadays. And if you do any Google search, you will find that sites with blogs will usually rank above similar sites without a blog.
Google Penguin first hit the web in April of 2012. Penguin targets sites who used spam links. These links were first targeted at spam comments, bought links, and low quality blog posts. Many Private Blog Networks (PBNs) were toppled and continue to be toppled to this day.
This update, like all others, is not a one size fits all update. Google continually keeps updating its metrics and making it harder to spam. To avoid penalties be sure to minimize the amount of bought links. And most importantly, be sure to post links only on sites that are relevant to your own. We recommend to use trustworthy SEO providers that know how to provide quality and reliable link building.
Sites who used keyword stuffing were also penalized. Keyword stuffing is the act of inserting an obscene amount of keyword within your text, sometimes even hiding it from the reader by using Meta tags. Best way to avoid keyword stuffing is to keep your content natural and clean. This will help your business in the long run.
Hummingbird, introduced in Summer 2013, was focused on contextual search results, as well as an emphasis on mobile friendliness. Up until this update, most results contained only the keywords in your query. However, after Hummingbird, Google implemented the use of LSI’s and synonyms in its search results. This is why when you search for “inexpensive cars Dallas,” Google will show pages that contain the similar keywords “cheap cars.”
The Hummingbird update serves to make query results more natural, just like asking questions in real life. It also allows webmasters to use more keywords in their content. So instead of writing two articles focusing on inexpensive cars in Dallas, I can write one about inexpensive cars and another about cheap cars in Dallas. Both would be very helpful and would help to diversify my long tail keyword rankings.
The latest Google update to roll out, Pigeon hit the web in July 2014 and affected local business and search results. With the growing popularity of mobile searches and GPS-enabled devices, local search results have become more important than ever. Pigeon established several algorithms and criteria to judge the authority of a local business. Local citations such as Google Maps and Yelp have become important factors in the local search game.
Other factors such as location, reviews, and site authority also play a key in ranking for local search results. With the amount of search results surpassing those conducted on desktops, the Pigeon update is only going to get more and more important in the future.
To Wrap It All Up
Google updates are an inevitable obstacle to Search Engine Optimization. With almost every update, authority sites are toppled and new ones rise to replace them. However, it is more important to understand what each update entails so that you can plan to stay ahead of the curve. Hopefully, this guide is a good outline of just that. Understanding the why and how behind the updates will allow you to adapt quicker than your competition to new ranking factors.
What do you think is the next update coming from Google?