Algorithm updates from Google typically have an impact on search engine optimization, but none have generated more interest from the industry than those released in the last few years. In case you’re new to SEO, here’s a quick look at what has transpired.
Beginning in February, 2011, the Panda algorithm made the word “quality” an immediate buzz word among SEOs and content production became more important than ever before. In 2012 Penguin reiterated the significance of quality SEO and applied it to the way we build links. In 2013, Penguin 2.0 reinforced its initial version and Hummingbird was Google’s biggest update to its algorithm’s infrastructure since 2010.
Saying these updates have influenced SEOs is putting it nicely. Let’s take a look at how each of these updates has changed the game for SEOs.
Panda’s Impact on SEOs
Panda shocked a significant percentage of SEOs as the update affected nearly 12 percent of searches. It targeted low quality sites by evaluating a number of factors – none more important than content. Immediately following the release of Panda, SEOs rushed to create quality, unique content in hopes to regain their rankings.
Panda forced SEOs to seriously consider the user experience. We had to create quality, fulfilling content that would make users and Google believe we’re the authority on that topic. If there was a doubt that users could find better information elsewhere, we had to adjust the content we produced. New but smaller updates to Panda continue to roll out today.
Penguin’s Impact on SEOs
The first Penguin update in April, 2012 affected about 3 percent of searches and it altered the way SEOs built backlinks. Once again, Google’s focus was on quality as links from low quality sources were discounted. Link building quickly became a time-consuming process as many began building links in the form of guest posts. However such posts had to be unique and published on quality, relevant sites.
Penguin 2.0 was launched about a year later in May, 2013 and it affected a little more than 2 percent of searches. This update lowered Google’s tolerance for bad links even more. Some of its biggest targets included unnatural keyword anchor text and low quality guest posting. It was similar to the first Penguin update, but it was much better at finding and determining low quality links.
Hummingbird’s Impact on SEOs
Hummingbird’s impact on SEOs has been minimal even though it apparently has affected about 90 percent of searches. According to Matt Cutts, Google’s head of web spam, the changes were so slight that very few people would notice.
Hummingbird was released to help Google produce better results for voice searches and conversational searches, such as long tail keywords. The increase of people searching the internet on their mobile devices is one of the reasons Google released Hummingbird. SEOs might consider making pages that answer a question, but other than that there isn’t much to report on Hummingbird’s impact on SEOs.
We’ll make sure to keep you updated if this changes in the future.