An update to Google’s algorithms can cause a wave of apprehension for site owners. They effect page rank, and a number of businesses have spent years trying to recover from negative algorithmic results. However, site owners that are aware of the possible effects can better prepare for any eventuality.
If anyone wants to rank on Google’s search engine, they have likely heard of search engine optimization (SEO). It involves optimizing a website so that it has increased visibility in unpaid results. Types of SEO includes search-friendly meta and title tags along with relevant keywords. SEO is essential to acquiring unique traffic. Unfortunately, SEO is also what is affected by algorithmic changes, and sites that are over-optimized with excessive use of SEO tricks are the sites that face penalties.
Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird
It is the job of the search engine to rank relevant and useful results when queried. It completes its job by using regularly updated algorithms that measure a variety of factors like content, user experience, authority and popularity. If your site ranks high in these areas, you are ranked high in searches.
Panda – Introduced in 2011, Panda focuses on overall user experience. It weeds out thin, uninformative, or low-quality results. It also tackles intrusive ad placement and poor navigation.
Penguin – Penguin started targeting black-hat SEO tactics in 2012. It looks for signs of unnatural links such as paid and spam links. These schemes and other black-hat or spam tactics like keyword stuffing, cloaking websites and hidden text trigger algorithmic penalties.
Hummingbird – A recent addition from 2013, Hummingbird reinforced the Panda and Penguin guidelines while also increasing the importance of mobile-friendly sites (responsive web design). Hummingbird also enabled queries to determine the context of keywords, providing results for connected terms.
Typically, a site that has high quality content with natural keyword use and relevant links will not suffer under the changes. However, sites that fail in these areas can be expected to be hit hard. Some businesses have taken years to recover a strong page rank after an algorithmic change. Algorithmic penalties are capable of sending your website ranking so deep that traffic drops alarmingly. Worse, since it is not an official penalty, appealing to them is not likely to get results.