The Google algorithm is a changing list of search engine ranking factors that will determine the ranking of a website in organic search results. These ranking factors can be split into two categories; on-page and off-page. On-page factors include writing quality & engaging content and undertaking keyword research to discover what users are looking for. Off-page ranking factors include attaining quality relevant links from reputable websites and having content that is regularly shared on social networking sites. For a full overview of ranking factors check out Search Engine Lands’ SEO Periodic table.
Getting your head around Google’s algorithm updates can be a bit like being a stowaway on Noah’s ark. For anyone new to SEO you will soon learn Google in recent years has had a fondness for naming its algorithm updates after animals. So far on the ark there has been a panda, a penguin, a hummingbird and some rumours suggest there may even be a zebra next.
The Google Panda update was released in February 2011. The goal of the Panda update was to filter poor quality content out of Google rankings and increase high quality sites higher in the rankings. Many sites were hit and dropped in ranks when this update was released. So much so Google that released a blog on “What makes a quality site?”. Since its inception in 2011, the Panda update has been updated quite regularly with the latest update in July 2013.
Released in April 2012, the purpose of the penguin update was to fight off spam sites. A trend had begun to occur in SEO to attain links by any means possible. Many sites had begun buying links on mass from unrelated, unqualified sites and from link farms & networks to improve their rankings. The Penguin update looked to take action against these sites. Sites that had bought into link purchasing or trading were penalized hard. To assist sites adversely affected by the update, Google released the Google disavow tool. This tool allows website owners to tell Google to ignore specified third party links that may be damaging to the site’s rank in the search engines.
Although it will be remembered for being the year of the Hummingbird updates, in reality 2013 should be remembered for being the year of the user. Aptly named the hummingbird due to its “precise and fast” nature, this algorithm update looks to focus on what the user is actually saying and looking to achieve as opposed to focusing on keywords. What sets the hummingbird update apart from previous updates is that it is a complete change of the algorithm structure, whereas previous updates were just alterations to the existing algorithm.
Speculation is already rife about what the next Google algorithm update will be. Some have suggested it will be a Zebra . Going back to a black and white animal like a panda or a penguin would suggest it could be another algorithm focused on clearing up spam. Though this is all speculation for now. What would be most likely is that Google continues to focus on the user and providing them with the most accurate results based on truly understanding their query as opposed to searching for keywords.
Guaranteed SEO can help you bring your website up to do date with Google’s current standards. Keep an eye on our blog for the latest updates on Google’s algorithm changes . We are here to help you succeed in your internet marketing strategy!