Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds – Is SEO One Big Zoo?

  • Date: May 30, 2014

For those of you thinking that the staff here at the Internet Sales Drive office are having a wail of a time being surrounded by some furry friends - we’re not quite! While internet marketing is plenty of fun, if you work in SEO, when you hear the words Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird some of you may shudder.

The animals in Google's zoo

The difference between the three algorithms is key to understanding how they affect your search engine optimisation and in turn how you can avoid being affected by any future updates that Google decide to roll out.

  • Google Panda – launched in February 2011 to filter out websites of thin quality.

Initially rolled out monthly, Google announced last March that future updates would be integrated into the algorithm and would be less noticeable. Since the rollout of Panda, content marketing has increased in popularity, seeing more of a focus on blogging and the building of off-site content such as social media. To accompany the update Google produced a series of question webmasters should ask themselves to maintain high quality and avoid being affected by Panda – it is more than likely that those affected by the recent Panda 4.0 update missed something key here.

  • Google Penguin – Launched in April 2012 to accompany their adorable Panda.

Google’s idea was to penalise and decrease the rankings of those sites breaching guidelines by using ‘black hat’ SEO techniques, producing duplicate content and keyword stuffing. A websites main focus should be on site quality and it was Google’s intention with these updates to keep those sites without high standards off pages #1 and #2.

  • Google Hummingbird – Announced last year and rolled out in September 2013.

Rolled out to analyse the context of the search query to judge the context behind it to ensure the whole query is taken into account and therefore producing more beneficial results. This is more relevant to content marketers and should be inspiration enough to focus on content strategy to create more site traffic and higher Google rankings.

Google Panda: eats, shoots and leaves...?

While the most recent Google Panda update was scheduled to begin rolling out on May 20, there was a lot of speculation that it started earlier, according to results which revealed that major websites such as ebay.com, yellowpages.com and ask.com experienced vast losses in site traffic by up to 50% it would initially appear so.

Although it is now being claimed that eBay, one of the biggest losers during Panda 4.0’s rollout was a result of an internal manual penalty by Google.

Winners were also reported, with wordpress.com and buzzfeed.com seeing site visits increase by up to 25%.

It is important to note that this update does not just rank particular pages of a website but focuses on the entire site, so it only takes a few poor quality pages for Panda to bring your sites ranking down.

With the results of this major update we are hoping this will predict the direction that SEO is likely to go.

Audience connection will become more of a focus, whether this be through off-site content such as social media, customer reviews or even comments on blog posts – sites demonstrating a higher level of this will more than likely be rewarded.

Content quality will experience a growth and gone will be the days of keyword- focused content and copied and pasted text in order to fill a word count. Research will become significant. Over linking, and over-cramming of different SEO techniques will be the key to remaining in high rankings.

Surviving the stampede

At Internet Sales Drive we understand how a correctly marketed website can improve your traffic, rankings and in turn profits but this is not done overnight, here are just some of the ways we aim to overcome Google updates and use them to your advantage:

  • Avoiding over-optimisation, and the unnecessary over use of keywords and links in content, allowing context, so that when a customer searches a query related to your website, you can be easily found.
  • Working on brand awareness and social media in order to create and maintain the correct levels of audience and customer engagement.
  • Including mobile searching in our content strategy so that we are not isolating a whole audience group.

SEO is still an ever expanding side of web-marketing with numerous components, as the Google updates continue so will the significance of SEO.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and perhaps even learnt how working alongside Google’s guidelines results in profitable results.

Perhaps you disagree? What are your thoughts on Google’s algorithm zoo?

Google Partner