Google Algorithm Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird

Anyone interested in a website's value and authority takes a deep interest in google algorithms and how these algorithms work. To benefit from these algorithms one must know these algorithms what do they actually do and why were they introduced.

Google Algorithm Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird

What is an algorithm?

An algorithm is a set of rules or code that google follows to make the search results as relevant as possible. When search engines were first introduced it was easy to get in google's eyes and at the top of search results. But google caught on SEO community cheating their way up to the top so google started updating its algorithm more often than before. Before these algorithm updates if your site was at #1 rank for certain keyword it would stay there untill the next algorithm update which used to take few weeks or months. This all algorithm updates started with the release of "Caffeine" in 2010. Since then search results have been refined many times a day than over weeks or months. Google makes over 600 changes to its algorithms every year and only big updates are announced. Panda, Hummingbird and Penguin are one of biggest updates.

What is Panda algorithm?

Panda was thrown in on February 23, 2011. Panda was introduced for showing websites of high-quality higher and websites of low-quality lower basically evaluating your site's quality. It was first known as "Farmer" for degrading and penalizing the farm contents later on it was named after its creator's name Navneet Panda. In early days of Panda many sites were hit very hard while some had small loss caused by Panda. Since then Panda has been a big issue for SEOs community as it may either demote few pages of your website or it may demote your whole website considering it to be of low-quality.

However  google's employee Amit Singhal's Checklist explains how to recover from a Panda hit and to check if your website contains real high quality content.Though all the factors that Panda uses to determine the quality of your website are not known but this checklist plays a role in how your website content can be rated. Always give your best and genuine and an up-to date content to google to have it indexed. The following factors can help you in a Panda hit.

Panda Factors

  • External Duplicate Content: Duplicate content can be external (copied from other websites). Google has a way to figure out which content belongs to which website and you can be penalized by panda for duplicating content. Panda can hit only a portion of your website or whole website depending upon the content size.
  • Internal Duplicate Content: Duplicate content can be internal (duplication within the site) Suppose you have a product page and each product is available in different sizes and you have separate page for each.  Lets say you have 30 products with 8 available sizes that means you have 240 pages in google index while only 30 pages would be enough. You may want to fix this problem to save your site from Panda hit.
  • Low Quality Content: An example can be that you have your words in title and few times on the page but your content is not summarized well so readers can find it useful. If your site content does not crave your readers attention and you do not engage a good number of audience then your content might be marked as low-quality content. Always write a content which is Real , Unique, Best of its kind and also summarize your content in depth.

How to Recover from a Panda?

Your website has been hit by Panda and you want to recover from it? Well here is the solution google refreshes its Panda algorithm every month. Whenever it refreshes it takes a new look at sites to see if they meet the criteria set by Panda to determine the quality of site. You have to remove the duplicate and thin content before the next Panda update and check for improvements after the refresh. However sometimes it takes several Panda refreshes to see improvement as it may take long time to revisit all your pages. Also every now and then google makes changes in Panda criteria which they call an update. Whenever an update happens they change the criteria that Panda follows.

What is Penguin Algorithm?

Penguin algorithm first came out on April 24, 2012. The purpose of this algorithm is to detect unnatural links and reduce the authority of those sites who cheated their way in search results for better rankings. There can be more factors of this algorithm but main focus revolves around Links.

Links are backbone of search engines. Search engines jumps from site to site using links. Whenever an authoritative site links to your site it passes a piece of its authority to your site. While back in the past SEOs thought getting many links from low authority sites is more effective so they used to get links from all the available sources including, directories, text link ads, forum signatures and blog reviews etc. I think what this algorithm does is to detect unnatural links ( Unnatural links are the links which have been created NOT by the owner of site). It also detects the links you are receiving from sites which are known for link selling, or they have been marked as no-follow. Another example might be that you want to get links for certain keywords and you are getting links for these keywords. But what if you receive too many links for same the keywords than other over a small period of time? Google might throw a red flag on such links thinking they are spam links.

How to recover from Penguin? 

Penguin is refreshed periodically just like Panda re-evaluating your sites links status. So you have to make few changes and improvements before next Penguin refresh and what you have to do is:
  • Detect the unnatural links that are linking to your site and remove them. If you can't remove them ask google not to consider them with the help of disavow tool.
  • Do a research before posting a link to any directory or forum signature as they have marked the links with the attribute "no-follow" which means they are telling search engine robots not to follow these links so getting links from such sites is no good.
  • Do not post the links on the sites which is known for link selling.
  • Always ask for variation of different keywords when others linking to your site.
  • Get deep links and links from the related sites. 

If you have done all this way well before next Penguin refresh you might see an improvement in penguin hits. In some cases it requires few Penguin refreshes in order to completely lift the penguin block from your site.

What is Hummingbird Algorithm?

Hummingbird was released on August 30, 2013. Hummingbird is totally different from Panda and Penguin. Panda and Penguin are the algorithms of google taking part in filtering while Hummingbird isn't an algorithm rather its a new search engine which is still using the old algorithms ( Panda and Penguin ). The purpose of Hummingbird is to understand queries of users. For example if a user searches the string " What is the best place to eat pizza in New York" Hummingbird is capable of finding out that by "place" user is more interested in the search results which show "restaurants". These changes were required for google's voice search (via Google Glass or via Google Now). When we type the search like " Best Web Development Company New York" more likely when are speaking we would say " Which Company in New York offers best Web Development Services". The Hummingbird is responsible to better understand what users are looking for when they make such search queries.

How to improve for Hummingbird?

Well to improve your sites content is to write the content that answers the users queries or it meets the requirement of what user is searching for. If your site was hit by Panda or Penguin you had to make few changes to recover from Panda or Penguin hit because it was easy to calculate the low-quality content and unnatural backlinks. But with hummingbird the problem is you should know what your site is offering to what kind of users as many users may be searching for different queries. So good rule of thumb is to create the original content and best of its kind and keep in mind what queries of users its going to answer and what is it offering to its visitors.