If you are new to SEO and digital marketing you probably know that Google has magical algorithms and rules that all digital marketers spend countless hours trying make sense of. The truth is, no one knows the exact Google algorithms and if they did they sure as hell wouldn’t tell you.
If you have done some research then you might have heard all sorts of crazy animal names, like Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird. Believe it or not these names don’t exactly correlate to their purpose, but they do have their own unique purpose when it comes to determining your sites “rank” per keyword search.
This article is meant to give you a basic introduction the Google Algorithms and how they work with your site.
Panda: the quality animal
Panda launched in February 23, 2011 and changed the SEO game entirely. Panda analyzes site content and determines if contains quality information. The most affected sites where “content farms” that stored huge amounts of stole content with the sole purpose to rank highly for as many keywords as possible.
Panda generally effects the entire credibility and rank for a site, not just one page. In short, if you publish unoriginal and/or poor quality content your entire site will suffer.
So how do you know if you creating quality content? According to Google’s Amhit Singhal’s blog these are the questions you need to ask yourself:
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Yeah, that’s a lot to take in. To make life easier here is a much shorter checklist:
- Is this content something I would share or bookmark?
- Is this duplicate content? (It doesn’t have to be an original idea, but at least an original point of view and/or text)
- Does it have substance? (Similar to the first bullet, but is there enough information on the page to answer a question fully, more than a short blurb)
Penguin: the backlink police
Launched April 24, 2012, Penguin put an end to the backlink snatchers. Before Penguin it was common practice for sites to cheat by gathering as many backlinks as possible without thought to where the link w
as coming from, and people often abused backlinks by purchasing unnatural links to their site.
Google hates inorganic links, if you don’t believe me their Link Schemes section of their quality guidelines. Here is the first section of that page.
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
So what the hell do I do to get links to my page? Good question. For this intro to algorithms it will be easier to outline what you should NOT do.
- Pay money for links
- Exchange goods or services for links
- Ask everyone you know with a website to link to your site
- Stuff links into every guest article or post mentioning your site
- Use any sort of automated link building tools
Embed links with strategic anchor text in highly distributed press releases
Hummingbird: the brains of the operation
September 26, 2013 the day SEO enthusiast around the world shit heir pants. Hummingbird is the biggest update to the Google Algorithms since Caffeine (not an animal) in 2010. The main take away from Hummingbird is that it changed the way Google interprets what users search for and how.
Synonyms have been a part of Google search for a long time, but Hummingbird revolutionized how the engine used semantic search. Semantic search takes into account the context of the user. Think about how these two searches could return different results, “how to shoot a bow” and “how to tie a bow.” Bow is a keyword for both searches, but they provide very different results.
As an intro Hummingbird we aren’t going to get to crazy with all the details of how it works, but here are your key takeaways:
Keep your content focused. Don’t try to answer every question surrounding a subject. Pick one question and answer it with a quality in depth response.
Be Diverse. Don’t misinterpret this as a contradiction to staying focused. Just don’t regurgitate the same words and phrases over and over. Use a synonyms, diction, and concepts that can help provide related point of view.
Don’t try to hard. If you have ever played a sport you know what I am talking about. If thought about all the things your mind and brain does to hit a golf ball down the fair way you would never hit a ball straight. If you thought about the hundreds of things that will affect your pages SEO all at once you would never get any one thing right. Sit down, write diverse quality content, then go back and do all the nitty-gritty optimizations after you have built a solid platform of information to share.