Google Updates: Panda, Penguin, and Now Hummingbird

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Major Game Changing Google Updates


Google has a colorful logo and colorful way of naming updates to the way it ranks pages. These updates to it’s algorithm come in many forms, some are announced, some are not.  When an update is announced you can bet it REALLY matters! Knowing the more recent history of Google’s attempts to raise High Quality, Unique, and Valuable content to the top of the rankings is very important.



Panda Update 2011

The first named Google update that still matters is Panda.  It rolled out in February of 2011.  It is all about user experience. Thin content, content farms, too many ads and other similar issues caused web page rank to go down. Duplicate content was targeted, too.  If a site owner has not taken steps to remove pages created by clicking tags and categories from being indexed by Google then the site is creating its own duplication issues! Every page needs to be unique, high quality, and easy to read with few ads in the top half of the page.  This update came in stages.

The part of this Google Update which rolled out in November affected 35% of all websites. Any website that was “stale” or did not have any new changes, pages, or posts lost rank. This rule explains why sites with blogs do so well.



Penguin Update 2012

Penguin launched in April 2012.  What was Penguin about? It was about punishing people who used bad tactics.  One, for example, would be white text on white back ground to up the number of keywords on a page. Penguin was the black and white vehicle to enforce Google Law.  These tactics became officially known as “Black Hat.” It wasn’t rolled out all at once, either.

One of the major changes was how back links are counted. Excessive low quality back links no longer propelled sites to the the number 1 position, they hurt them! Only natural, good, high quality back links helps sites get to the first spot. Many Google Updates are announced, but the last announcement said to not expect anymore confirmations about Penguin.



The newest 2013 major change is called Hummingbird. It’s fast and precise, according to Google. It happened in August but was only announced this month in September. Just like all of the rest of the major shifts it comes after several months of announcements and other big changes. So lets start with what happened at the beginning of August. Google told us how fast all our sites needed to be for mobile devices. They said “above the fold” (top half of the page) content needs to load in 1 second and that our domain servers needed to respond in 200ms. Now we know why. Hummingbird is a brand new fast engine, not just an update. Google says this is the first major change on this scale in 12 years.  It is designed to handle new features, like conversational speech and it incorporates both Panda and Penguin into one machine.


What else is happening Right Now in Google Land

On September 23rd, 2 days before acknowledging Hummingbird, Google announced something else. It’s WAY more important then Hummingbird and it affects website owners more directly. By December 2013 Google will no longer tell us what words were used in the search engine to find our websites. No more organic keyword data! It was a classic bop to the back of the head followed by a swift “look at the shiny thing in my other hand” move.  It seems that organic keywords are already encrypted, but the official cut off is in December.



What’s on the horizon? Everyone is talking about PageRank going away and not being one of the more then 200 considerations for a specific page’s rank. It’s already a Lot Less important then it use to be. Here at Cloud Illumination we can get brand new websites pages ranked without one link back, which is cool because we don’t link build. PageRank is based entirely on the quantity of quality links back to a site that came naturally without any involvement of the site owner or anyone working for the siteowner.








Google Update Panda Quality Sites




Penguin Google Update




Google Hummingbird







About Marviene Fulton

Experienced SEO professional, helping medium to small business owners rank higher, get more traffic and achieve better user engagement.