The Panda, The Penguin and The Hummingbird
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The Panda, The Penguin and The Hummingbird

Once there were three algorithms whose names were Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. This story is about why Google created them and what happens to your site when they crawl it. These algorithms changed the way Google indexed websites forever by separating quality sites from those who simply manipulated previous algorithms to get to the top. For the sake of your time, here is a brief outline of how each affects your search rank.

Panda – Rolled out in 2011, its job is to rank sites by quality. It crawls your site to see if you’ve got relevant, original content that is actually helpful to users. It weeds out sites that have farmed information from other sites to create tons of pages full of keywords. Amit Singhal wrote this helpful piece to help you decide if your site provides high-quality content. If your site doesn’t meet all the point she outlines, you can work to fix that. Panda is updated frequently. As your content gets better, so will your rank.

Penguin – Waddled on the scene in 2012, it crawls sites to ensure the links within are valuable and trustworthy. Links are a major part of your search ranking. Before Penguin arrived, any link counted as a positive and sites with lots of links were ranked high. But those weren’t always trustworthy links; cheaters were able to link some quality anchor text to anything and everything. If you have a lot of unnecessary links in your website go through and get rid of them. They’re hurting your ranking. When Penguin updates your site rank will reflect your hard work and quality links.

Hummingbird – Buzzed in, in 2013. It basically understands what you’re saying and typing in the Google search box. Hummingbird allows the user to be less literal in their queries yet still finds the best answers. For example: you can type, “The best place to get a Cuban sandwich around here.” Google will see, “Place” and, “Cuban sandwich” and give you a list of restaurants. It sees, “Around here,” notes your location and finds the highest ranked Cuban sammie joints in the immediate vicinity. To help your site rank high, instead of focusing on keywords, focus on providing content that users would be searching for.

Google just wants to make the web an easier place to search. Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird are here to separate the good sites from the bad and make Googling as easy and helpful as it can possibly be.

And that is the very end of the adventure of the algorithms.

But, if Google continues to adapt to the needs of it’s users, it was only the beginning of the adventures of search rankings.