Back-To-Back Changes to Google’s Algorithm
The SEO World has been rocked quite a bit these last few days. Two major changes occurred in a very short period of time. Hummingbird was released about 30 days ago; it’s a major change to the Google algorithm that affects 90% of organic searches. The second of the one-two punch landed on Friday when Matt Cutts tweeted “Penguin 2.1 launching today.” In this post I’ll explain what these two changes do and how they affect everyday businesses like yours.
What’s With the Weird Names?
Here’s a quick overview of the unusual names that Google labels their algorithm changes:
- Penguin – specifically targets unnatural links. In general, backlinks are votes of confidence from other websites pointing to your content and website. The big G rewards sites when links from relevant sources are present. Others… not so much. If your site has lots of spammy links, watch out. Dig into Webmaster Tools to analyze your links.
- Panda – specifically targets poor quality content. This not-really-a-bear change spanks thin content, keyword stuffing, and general crap that humans try to avoid.
- Hummingbird – references the newest and biggest change to the overall algorithm in 3 years. It hit headlines because it showed a major evolution, one where artificial intelligence can be seen in search.
Penguin 2.1 Affects Less than 1% of Searches
Search Engine Land did a nice job of summarizing the spam-filtering algorithm evolution. Penguin 2.1 is also called Penguin 5. Don’t ask. It’s complicated and not really important. Here’s what you really need to know:
- Penguin 2.1 is another tweak to find and annihilate websites that are “deemed to be spamming Google’s search results but somehow still rank well. In particular, it goes after sites that may have purchased paid links.”
- To recover, you’ll need to manually remove the offending links. This is a laborious process where you’ll use the Disavow Tool in Webmaster Tools.
- If you see an improvement to traffic (or at least your numbers held steady), it’s an sign that the march of Penguin 2.1 didn’t stomp over your rankings.
Flight of the Hummingbird
Back in July we talked about Semantic SEO, which is fancy terminology for predictive or smart search. The post talked about the algorithm and how it guesses at your search intent and not an exact keyword match. The Hummingbird release is the evolution of just that. So what do you need to know about this tiny and agile bird?
- Sites that have quality content are seeing an improvement in SEO rankings. (Yeah for White Hat SEOs!)
- Thin content or pages with keyword stuffing will experience SEO demotions.
- Relevancy and recency are still your best strategies to getting visible organically.
Did your SEO rankings get a shake-up? We’ve seen an appreciable bump in organic traffic. What have you noticed?
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