From Panda to Penguin: who’s who in the Google zoo

From Panda to Penguin: who’s who in the Google zoo

Recently there was talk Google had once again changed its algorithm but not made an announcement. (In fairness to Google, they stopped making announcements some time ago unless deemed “major changes”, instead implementing monthly rolling changes.) The SEO experts were divided as to whether it was a Panda or Penguin update.

As I investigated, it made me think: does the small business owner (you) know about Panda and Penguin, algorithms and updates? And do you care? After a quick survey the consensus came back that Panda and Penguin were cute black and white animals, one with fur one with feathers. And for the record on May 21 Google announced that it was in fact a Panda update.

Who’s who in the Google zoo

Knowing what’s what or who’s who when it comes to Google is important. The more you know about Google the more ROI you will see on your content and online marketing efforts.

Check out the below and get to know the zoo.


Algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that take your questions and turn them into answers. Today, Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to guess what you are looking for. These signals include things like the terms on websites, the freshness of content, your region and PageRank (more on PageRank later).


Google Panda is a change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm that was first released in February 2011. The change aimed to lower the rank of low-quality sites and return higher-quality sites to the top of search results. Rankings of news websites and social networking sites surged and rankings for sites containing lots of advertising, dropped.

Check out Google’s 23 points on “what counts as a high-quality site?”


Google Penguin is a code name for a Google algorithm update first announced on April 24, 2012. The update aims to decrease search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines that use “black-hat” SEO techniques. These techniques artificially increase the ranking of a webpage by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page. Such tactics are commonly described as “link schemes” or “link farms”.

Hummingbird (our favourite)

Google announced the Hummingbird change in September 2013. Hummingbird is a more human way to interact with users and provide a more direct answer. Hummingbird recognises synonyms but also (and here’s the clincher) context. Hummingbird’s ability to also judge context allows Google to thereby judge the intent of a person carrying out a search.

Hummingbird is brilliant for content marketers. Put simply here’s how I explain Hummingbird:

Imagine you write a blog about Google. By talking about Page rank, Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin and Algorithms – all things relating to Google – Hummingbird detects genuine context and ranks the blog higher for Google associated words.

The Hummingbird change has content marketers rejoicing. Finally, genuine, quality content is recognised by Google.

Page Rank

PageRank is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in their search engine results. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages.

If want to know more about content marketing and the effect it can have on your Google rank, let’s talk.

See you next week,


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