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    If you have a website and your goal is to get as high a search engine position as possible you are surely wondering on what basis Google determines positions and what rules it follows. What do you think Google has in common with Panda, Hummingbird or Penguin? We explain it all in today’s article.

    google algorithms

    How does the search engine work and what is the algorithm?

    By definition, an algorithm is a certain way of doing things that enables a given task to be solved. How does this apply to SEO activities? 

    Every now and then Google releases a new algorithm, which is a set of formulas and rules that determine what elements must be met , in order for a site to be considered valuable and worthy of attention. If a site meets the requirements of the algorithm it displays to users in search results as the answer to their query. Algorithms and their updates are published with varying frequency, but several have had a particular impact on the position of sites in the search engine.

    Panda algorithm

    Algorithm introduced in 2011, to the satisfaction of proponents of good content, has completely changed the approach of website owners to the content they publish on their websites.

    The main idea behind the algorithm was to match content to users’ expectations.

    Analyzing texts for quality and uniqueness, Panda effectively eliminated sites with content that was of little value or duplicated. So how to create content in accordance with Panda’s requirements?

    • avoid duplication – creating original texts is an attitude. Pay attention to both duplicate content internally within the site and externally on other domains. We wrote about how not to fall into the duplication trap in an article about the phenomenon duplicate content
    • use appropriate keyword saturation – the Panda algorithm has effectively eliminated the phenomenon of keyword stuffing, or in free translation, the stuffing of keywords in content. It is worth paying attention to such content of phrases that will naturally draw the user’s attention to the topic, but will not be pushy and exaggerated
    • respond to the user’s intent – anyone who types a question or issue into the search bar is looking for an answer or information on the topic. Content posted on the site should satisfy the curiosity of the audience and be tailored to respond to the specific intent of the query. Pages that do not convey valuable information and are of poor quality (so-called thin content) do not meet the rules of the algorithm and do not rank high in the search engine

    Penguin algorithm

    After setting rules for content, it was also time for link building. Penguin was introduced in 2012 and is an algorithm that evaluates the quality and profile of links leading to a site.   

    Once upon a time, link farms and spammy sites were a popular way to get links to a site. Google has decided to eliminate these types of activities and cleanse the search engine of sites that want to increase their visibility in this way.

    The search engine is now being cleaned up.

    Initially, Penguin analyzed the past actions of domains in terms of linking, while since 2016 it has been running in real time. This means that the algorithm analyzes and monitors the links being acquired and reacts to disallowed activities in real time, lowering or raising the position of sites depending on the linking score. 

    How to conduct link building activities to avoid penalties and downgrades by the Penguin algorithm? 

    • conduct an analysis of your competitors’ activities and determine your budget, and on this basis prepare a link building strategy
    • try to avoid acquiring links from distant countries (e.g., links from Asia directing to a Polish site)
    • obtain links from domains thematically related to your site
    • schedule your actions over time – too many links acquired in a few days may be treated as spam or bot activity

    More on this how to acquire links well in SEO we wrote in a previous article on Link Building.

    Algorithm Hummingbird

    Coliber is another Google idea that was supposed to tailor search results to its audience and make it as easy as possible for them to use search engines. It has done just that.

    In 2013, after the introduction of the algorithm, the results presented in Google began to be more tailored to the expectations and intent of users’ queries. That is, the main premise of Hummingbird has been fulfilled.

    What exactly did we gain from the introduction of Hummingbird?

    First of all, its task was to analyze the intent and context of users’ queries. Previously, Google, when displaying search results, focused separately on individual words given in the search bar. After the introduction of the algorithm, Google began to take into account the relationships between phrases and display results that respond to the user’s need. 

    Additionally, the search engine began to display ‘zero-click’ results, which allow users to read a short answer to a query without having to go to a website. 

    How to adapt a website to the rules of the Hummingbird algorithm?

    • create content that is easy to read and responsive to user queries
    • Make sure that the content on the site is quality and factually correct
    • think through and plan for appropriate keyword saturation, making sure to use synonyms

    Algorithm Pigeon

    The Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird algorithms have changed a lot in the perception of content creation and website optimization. However, it is worth mentioning one more animal in the Google collection – the Pigeon algorithm. 

    Local positioning aims to make it easier for users to find a service or product in a particular area. From the point of view of website owners, local SEO activities allow to increase the position of the site for user queries that refer to a specific place or region. 

    Local SEO is a way to increase the position of the site for user queries that refer to a specific place or region.

    In July 2014, Google decided to define the rules and improve the process of local SEO and released the Pigeon algorithm.

    Merging search results with maps, it significantly improved the position of sites that had already taken care of positioning for location-related phrases.

    How to customize a site for local search results according to Dove principles?

    • Create and well-optimize a Google My Business card. Make sure it includes up-to-date contact information and other important information about your company
    • establish keyword phrases related to your location for which you want to be visible in search results
    • if you have sub-pages on your site dedicated to specific locations or cities remember to optimize the Title and Description, taking into account the name of the location

    You can read more about optimizing your site for local positioning in our article Local Positioning – what you can gain and where to start?

    How important are algorithms in SEO?

    Algorithms and their updates play a huge role in the process of positioning Each newly introduced algorithm addresses a specific aspect of how pages are created and function to make search results as relevant as possible. 

    Continuous monitoring of  Google’s updates and optimizing pages for them are essential steps on the way to increasing your site’s visibility. 

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    Karolina Jastrzebska
    Karolina Jastrzebska

    The author of the post is Karolina Jastrzebska. She started her adventure with SEO in 2021. She currently works as an SEO Specialist at Up More.