Many people describe themselves as gurus in Google web positioning. However, there is probably a good percentage of those people who still ignore the effects that Hummingbird, Panda, Dove, Fred, and Penguin can have on a website.
The Google search engine’s matrix algorithm is immensely complicated and continues to get more complicated as Google updates it with new AI techniques.
The objective of this article is to explain in a very simple way what each of these algorithms with animal names that Google launches every so often to change the positioning rules of its search engine.
Google engineers are focused on making search engine results as relevant as possible to users. For this, the algorithm examines in a dynamic and constant way hundreds of different factors, including aspects known as the title, the meta tags or whether or not it is registered in the Google My Business program.
In the beginning, everything was different. Google’s algorithm changed very infrequently and a website could stay at # 1 with a certain keyword for years, without doing anything new.
All this changed with the launch of the “Caffeine” algorithm in 2009. Since Caffeine was launched, the results of the Google search engine not only change several times a month but several times a day.
In total, it is estimated that Google makes more than 600 changes in its algorithm in a year and the vast majority of them are not announced. But when Google makes a “really big” change, they give it a name of some animal or something characteristic and 3 of the biggest algorithm changes have happened in recent years: The Hummingbird Algorithm and the Panda.
Google Caffeine (Google Caffeine)
(Release: August 10, 2009)
Google Caffeine was the beginning of everything. Since its incorporation, it has added significant speed improvements to the search engine and a new, more relevant indexing infrastructure.
(Release: February 23, 2011)
Google Panda was launched on February 23, 2011. Its objective is to reward the organic positioning of high-content websites, degrading sites that may be of lower quality.
It is a purely content algorithm. In its counterpart, it can not only degrade certain sections of a web page of search engine results, but it can also make a website disappear completely if Google considers that the entire site is of lower quality.
What is there to avoid?
Duplicate content “Thin” content Low-quality content SPAM content Keyword stuffing. Content plagiarized.
A “thin content” page is a web page that adds little or no value to someone who is reading it.
It does not have to do exclusively with having few words, but it is a factor that influences. In a way, pages with very few words are not very useful.
The Google Panda algorithm punishes duplicate content in 2 ways mainly: When a website is copied from the content of other sites and when a website clones its own content (something VERY COMMON). On this last one an example:
A company that sells baby items, offers in its e-commerce portal baby cars of the Chicco brand. This product comes in 20 different colors and each of them comes in 6 different sizes. That is, in this portal every variation of color or size of this baby car has a separate page (although all these pages are essentially the same).
This will make you enter in the Google index hundreds of pages on the same, when in reality it would be enough just to have one that refers to the others. In this type of situation, the best option is to use the canonical label. Check here
Low quality content
Google Panda aims to punish contents that are written without depth and turn out to be not so useful. The old praxis of “writing daily for writing” is not well seen by this algorithm nor the old tactic of writing summaries of other web pages.
Consequently, if what is being produced is not high quality content, then the author could be doing more harm than good.
How to recover from Google Panda?
Google updates the Panda algorithm approximately 1 time per month. If the owner of a website affected by the Panda, probably after 1 month should start to improve. However, if the infractions are very high, it can take considerably more time (Google Sandbox).
From time to time, instead of simply updating the algorithm, Google does what they call an update. When an update occurs, this means that Google has changed the criteria they use to determine what is considered and what is not considered high quality. On May 20, 2014, Google performed an important update that they named Panda 4.0. This caused many sites to see significant changes with respect to Panda:
Google Penguin (Google Penguin)
(release: April 24, 2012)
Google Penguin is focused on the quality of the backlinks and links of a website. Google seeks that the webs do a correct work of connection with other sites, under a coherence of content. Also, Google penalizes websites that buy backlinks (it’s easy to notice that now).
Another reason behind this update was to inform people about Google’s Disavow tool, which allows users to remove URLs that are damaging a website and to tell Google not to consider indexing that link.
Google Pirate (Google Pirate)
(release: August 12, 2012)
Google Pirate is focused on exactly what the word says: penalize those websites that have copyright sanctions or that follow the piracy line.
Google Hummingbird (Google Hummingbird)
(Release: September 26, 2013)
The Hummingbird update from Google is probably the most significant of all, after the Panda. Since its launch, Google positioning is directly related to semantics – what is conceptually known as the “Latent Semantic Indexing” (LSI in English) – and geolocation.
It is not merely the keyword that marks differences. Now we have to consider semantics, synonymy and geolocation.
Google Pigeon (Google Pigeon)
(Release: July 24, 2014)
Google Pigeon was launched with the aim of debugging local searches, in order to create a mathematical formula that is responsible for prioritizing local content and backlinks (geolocation), over global ones.
For local SEO it is essential. It is the cause of a local business appearing in the top positions.
Google MobileGeddon (The Armageddon of Cell Phones)
(Release: April 21, 2015)
This update, also known as Mobileged Mobile, owes its name to the combination of the words “mobile” and “Armageddon”, since it was originally thought that the change “could cause a massive disruption in the classification of mobile web pages. .
This algorithm focuses on giving priority in the classification of search results to websites that are compatible with mobile devices, those that are optimized properly. Google’s AMP technology (for its acronym in English “Accelerated Mobile Pages”), designed to improve the speed of opening web pages on cell phones, is also part of this update.
Google Rankbrain (Google Brain Rank)
(Release: October 26, 2015)
This algorithm seeks to detect UX web pages of low quality, with superficial content and little relevance.
Rankbrain is an algorithm that works under a Google Artificial Intelligence program. According to Google sources, it is part of the Google Hummingbird algorithm.
With this update, the Google search engine understands the meaning of the queries and makes sure to provide the best search results for the questions.
According to Google spokespersons, Rankbrain is in third place in the row of the most important ranking factors. It is, therefore, essential to optimize web content, making it relevant and complete.
Google Possum (Google Possum)
(Release: September 1, 2016)
Google Possum was launched to prioritize local search results. It tells the Google search engine the distance between a person and the business they are looking for. It also indicates all those nearby establishments of products or services related to what you are looking for.
Work in direct feedback with the Google My Business program.
Google Fred (Google Fred Flintstone)
(Release: March 7, 2017)
Google Fred was launched to “order” the giant advertising market in web pages (see Google AdSense).
This algorithm is punishing all those web pages that seek to earn money through advertising, prioritizing this objective over the user experience and the quality of the content.
The Google AdSense program has a special treatment from Google and so far the websites with this service have been much less affected.
Google Medic (Google Doctor)
(Release: August 1, 2018)
The so-called “Google Medic” is paying close attention to websites related to health and medicine, penalizing those who are not “user-friendly” and those who do not provide a good user experience.
The algorithm works under the concept of Google “YMYL, your money or your life”. For Google, the wrong information can affect users financially, physically or emotionally. Therefore, the update is aimed especially at those YMYL pages that have low-quality content and erroneous information.
Also published on Medium.