Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird – What Do These Google Terms Mean?

Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird – Google Search Terms

We all keep seeing bloggers use terms regarding Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO), like everyone knows exactly what they are. So, let’s quickly summarize the popular terms of Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

These are terms that describe SEO algorithms that Google has rolled out at different times. An algorithm is used on a Web site to determine its relevance on the Internet, overall, and its relevance to a search term entered by a user using Google Search. Notice that a Panda and a Penguin are black and white creatures. This may be related to white-hat and black-hat spammers and hackers. What’s up with Hummingbird? There can be many iterations of these algorithms. But giving a name to an algorithm is Google signifying that the change is significant, so take note.

Don’t lose track of the fact that all of these changes have been made to provide us a real and credible result when we do a search. We all want this to work well because we are all users of Internet Search.

In this post, I am only going to lightly touch upon the high level aspects of these algorithms from a business perspective. There is much more underneath that is of a technical nature that I will not cover.

Panda rolled out initially in 2011. Panda is the reason why we need to pay attention as bloggers and Social Media Marketers to when we have ‘duplicate content’ on our Web sites and blogs. No more cutting and pasting, even if we are not trying to be tricky, just lazy. Because people that tried to be tricky got really good at increasing their page rank on certain keywords, but, in the end not providing us what we were really searching for.

Penguin did even more. Penguin was in 2012 and cracked down on those sites that just packed links into their pages to get higher ranking that may or may not have had any relevance to the site. This algorithm also increased the importance of a well thought out anchor tag. That is an internal keyword phrase related to an image. You can generally set the alt tag when you insert the image into your blog post. This is an important step that some bloggers just don’t bother with. Penguin also refined the way content was evaluated. Before, the tricky people would stuff keywords into their content to get a better ranking. Now, Google is able to view phrases, called long-tailed keywords, and their use within the content to determine genuine relevance.

Hummingbird is the most recent change, just released in September, 2013. This algorithm concentrates on Semantic Search. This increases the need for content to be recognized and interacted with on different sources to have Google understand that your content can be trusted as an authority on the subject matter. This says that the days of just having relevant keywords in your landing page, even long-tailed keywords as Penguin directed us to do, is not enough.

You need to establish your ‘content’ as the most trusted and influential result for the search term.  This is effected by more than just what the content developer did, but, how people acted upon the content, through comments, G+, likes, etc. If you want to delve into this deeper, look into the influential factors on Big Data such as volume, velocity, veracity and variety. Make sure that your information is across the Social Networks and that you are interacting with others on those networks. This requires a Social Media Program.

The important point is that Google Search has become more personal; more responsive to what the person wants to find, rather than what the person thinks he or she wants to find.

So, if in the old days we knew the tricks to get good search ranking for our web site or blog, what do we need to do today to get good search ranking? I would say to concentrate on being genuine, original and interactive with other sources of a like mind and across several social channels . Then we have the best chance to be judged by Google as being the trusted and relevant source.

There is no need to try to do it yourself. Contract a Social Media Marketing professional that has the tools and expertise to handle these activities effectively and at a low cost.

If you have any further thoughts, share them with us.

3 thoughts on “Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird – What Do These Google Terms Mean?

  1. Thank you for the timely explanation–and the recommendations for me/us to take care as we post and use search engines. I was particularly responsive to your remark about content, and being genuine: “concentrate on being genuine, original and interactive with other sources of a like mind and across several social channels.” Good words..

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