Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon
Here are three major Google updates and what their impact has been on the world wide web:
Google Panda Update
Starting in 2011, Google decided that quality was superior to quantity and unleashed the Panda update onto the world to make some positive change. Plenty of websites had filled their pages with advertisements, spam, and other dastardly design decisions that ultimately created poor user experiences. Companies that spent their time and effort providing quality content and information (think news sites) and quality code suddenly found their digital stock rising. Google started rewarded those that authored original content.
Sadly, some people learned how to subvert the rules by simply copying content from a popular website and sticking it onto their own. Even worse, Google started giving the copycats greater results in organic search, leading to a large outcry from the honest crowd. Luckily, Panda has been updated over the years and now punishes those that partake in dubious acts such as content theft. Also, those that tweak their site beyond normal SEO standards are dinged for trying to use marketing tricks instead of content to drive traffic.
Google Penguin Update
After Panda ate all the spam-flavored bamboo online, Penguin reared it’s little head and stopped one of the more egregious ranking tactics: linking. For years, having multiple sources link back to your website was a sign of quality. If the biggest and best websites in the world were all connected to you, this must mean that your website is great, right? Well, this logic was easily sabotaged by common practices like link trading (you link me, I link you), link buying, bribing, and creating fake corners of the internet to point directly at a particular website.
With five updates to date and a whole host of angry SEO firms, Penguin has made strides in cleaning up poor practices across the web by punishing sites that engage in these sort of schemes. For those hit hard by Penguin's chilly updates, there is not a ton of recovery that can be made until Google refreshes the algorithm again and starts rewarding those that have cleaned up their act. Until then, make sure all of the linked traffic you are getting is honest and true, or the Penguin update might come after you.
Google Pigeon Update
While not the official title, the affectionately named “Pigeon” update is Google’s first major move to make “local” matter more than ever. Before Pigeon, all sorts of national chains and franchises would pop up when searching for goods and services in your area. Now, you’re way more likely to receive a local burger place or dry cleaner instead of a national business that just might happen to be in our around your town because they had a huge AdWords budget and a massive web presence.
This doesn't happen magically, as it is up to those local business to buy into Google’s social network, Google+, and verify their authenticity before their website gets served to their local communities. Even further, having photos, videos, domain authority, and reviews will help grow organic results even further, as Google now taps into all of that information via sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Larger companies that spend a lot of money on SEO are now being knocked down the listings by smaller, local businesses in an effort to help even the playing field.
The goal of Google’s algorithm updates is to promote quality content. They want to serve your website, they really do, but it has to be of value to users and having spam, ads, fake links, and deceptive SEO practices is not the way to get there. With regular, quality updates, attention to your local community, and avoiding the quick and easy solution, you should see the kind of growth and traffic that these wild animals are hunting for.
Thanks to Freepik.com for the icons!