Google is constantly updating its search algorithm to continue to provide the best possible experience for its users. If you are new to the world of SEO, references to some of these algorithm changes may be confusing, so here’s a quick overview of the big three:

Google Panda

The original Panda update was released in February 2011 with changes that gave the idea of “quality content” new meaning. Gone are the days when you can pilfer content from a reliable website to use as your own or even create content to use across multiple domains. Websites known as “content farms” have been systematically pushed into the no-man’s-land of Google results.

Panda is a part of the Google algorithm that updates on its own every month, constantly weeding out websites that violate best practices for quality content. Sometimes larger Panda updates occur and those tend to target new types of content farms. Most recently was the Panda 4.0 update, announced on May 20th, targeting syndicated content and rewarding pages with high user engagement.

Google Penguin

Links, links, links – everybody needs them, but acquiring them can be a dangerous game. The Penguin algorithm has been around since April, 2012 and its mission is to eliminate the shady practice of supplying links to webpages that don’t deserve the attention. Because the link profile of a website is a strong indication of authority, this practice has been in use since the beginning of search.

Paid links are no longer a viable option for any website looking to do things the right way. It’s true that you can still see positive growth from aggressive link building, but it is only a matter of time until it all comes crashing down.

For longevity and quality, buying links is a big fat: Don’t even think about it!

With Google Penguin lurking about, you have to work hard and earn your online authority the proper way – create content that people will want to link to naturally.

Google Hummingbird

The sophistication with which Google can crawl the web is staggering to think about at times, and the Hummingbird update has given the search giant more insight than ever before. With Hummingbird Google can more accurately assess the intent of a search query, rather than focusing on keywords.

By understanding the intent of the user, Google can serve content that is more likely to satisfy the query and produce a positive experience. It is an important distinction for website owners to note – while the keyword focus of a page is still important, said keyword can only do so much. The content of a page needs to be written in a way that will “answer” search queries for the users who land there.

Keeping Up with Google

It’s important to know what is happening with Google and to update your website accordingly. You might be wondering how to do that, and the answer is quite simple: stick to what you know.

Create content that is interesting for users by writing to what you know and love – the things that are important for your business. Don’t reach for all the stars…just find the ones that matter to you and focus on those.

Nicole Castelblanco (Alumni)

About Nicole Castelblanco (Alumni)

Nicole Castelblanco served as the Manager, Research & Analytics at Liquid Interactive. She led the department in the planning, implementation and management of online lead generation programs which include paid and organic search, display, social media, email marketing and analytics.