Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird – An Introduction To Google’s Zoo

Pandas, Penguins and Hummingbirds may sound like the main attractions at your local zoo, however they are the cute names Google decided to call its game changing algorithms.

To understand what each algorithm does you first need to understand what Google’s algorithms are. When you strip it down to the most basic description Google’s algorithms are a set of rules the Search Engine uses to compare your site against its expectations of a good site. Each algorithm will carry out a different set of checks, some of these checks are well known as Google have said themselves what will be looked for with the algorithm and some are based on trial and error guesses. When all of the checks are combined you will receive a ranking based on how well you comply with all of the algorithms.

This ranking is a very dynamic thing so just because you get a really good rank for your target keyword one day doesn’t mean it will be the same in a day, week or even a month! You have to ensure you are constantly complying with Google’s algorithms to ensure your stay at number 1.

First Stop – The Pandas

The Panda algorithm is the oldest of the 3 in this article and was released by Google in February 2011. The Panda algorithm was set up to read through a websites content and lower the rank of what Google considered “thin sites” these thin sites are websites that Google considered had low quality content and as such were lowered in the rankings.

The biggest winners of the Panda update were news websites and social networking sites, seeing a surge in the traffic whilst other legitimate websites reported a severe drop in traffic compared to sites that had copied their content. Google soon realised that the Panda update wasn’t having the desired effect they were initially after, because of this they started asking website owners to report sites that had copied there content so they could release more accurate updates to the algorithms.

After the initial trouble Panda caused Google they decided to release an update every month for the first 2 years. Subsequently Google has started integrating the updates into the algorithm so there is less of a noticeable impact.

On Your Left – The Penguins

Announced in April 2012, Penguin was developed and rolled out by Google to target websites that violated Googles webmaster guidelines by carrying out what we now call “Black Hat SEO” mainly by creating numerous irrelevant links to point back to a website tricking the search engines into thinking the site has authoritative content due to the number of backlinks.

Penguin had a much lower effect than Panda, Google estimated that 3.1% of search queries were effected by the Penguin algorithm. Penguin also carried out more checks than just spammy backlinks, there are 4 versions of Penguin that were released over 7 major updates. These allowed Google to check if websites had too many adverts, too little content above the fold and many more.

Google Penguin now works hand in hand with Panda as they are able to assess both the quality of the websites content, the spamminess of the content and the quality of the links to and from the websites. Because of this one of the main terms in SEO was born, “Content Is King”.

And Finally – The Hummingbirds

Hummingbird was released by Google in August 2013 and was announced on the eve of Googles 15th anniversary, September 26th 2013. Hummingbird, unlike it’s other two inmates was based purely on search semantics.

Hummingbird uses synonyms to try and judge context, what this translates to is a better overall search result. When you input a question Hummingbird will evaluate all of the words used in a semantic way to try and give you a more targeted search result. In short Hummingbird is trying to answer your questions instead of returning numerous facts about products and services.

Hummingbird had little effect on keyword rankings as it relying more on the content of the webpage to match any search terms used with what is written on your website. Hummingbird has allowed users to ask more natural questions such as who, why, where and how using both voice search and traditional search. By assessing the content on a site using Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird can return a more humanised result based on the entire search query.

We Hope You Enjoyed Your Tour

To summarise, Google has many algorithms not just Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. These 3 algorithms are the main ones when assessing the quality of a websites written content and returning the best possible answer to any query a user has.

I wonder if we will ever see a Malamute, Dalmatian or Mini Daschund algorithm….