Google Algorithm Updates Explained

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Panda, penguin, hummingbird and pigeon. While they may be disguised under the names of cute creatures, they can significantly impact the search engine rankings of your website if you are not following best practices. Let’s take a look at what the various Google algorithm updates address.



The main goal of panda was to remove low quality content from the Google search engine results.

  • Duplicate Content – Websites that featured the same or extremely similar content on multiple pages were negatively impacted by this update. This emphasized the importance of unique and relevant content on every page that is included within a website.
  • Lack of Content – So long are the days of just throwing 100 words without any real substance onto a page. Web pages with thin content were penalized in the Google search results by the panda update.


When the penguin update was launched, it targeted websites that were using over optimization techniques.

  • External Links – One detail addressed by the penguin update was the use of poor link building techniques. This includes having a bunch of links from low-quality websites that were clearly created just for the purpose of buying links. Additionally, this update penalized websites that had too many exact match anchor text links. For example, if a hair salon has 200 links from the phrase “hair salon in Charlotte” and only 10 with other variations, it doesn’t look so good.
  • Keyword Stuffing – This practice involves filling a website with keywords. As a best practice, keywords should only be used in a way that flows naturally in the content. There is no need to use the same keyword 20 times on one page.


The hummingbird update focused on two specific points of interest.

  • Mobile Devices – It comes as no surprise that internet searches on mobile devices are only increasing in numbers. Hummingbird emphasized the importance of websites having mobile responsive designs, so that mobile users can get the full impact and all of the information that they need from their phones and tablets. This also includes having a mobile content strategy to cater to these individuals and their particular mindset.
  • Contextual Search – Instead of simply focusing on exact keywords, hummingbird allowed Google searches to look at the context of a search as well. As a result, it became more important for websites to provide answers to questions, in-depth content pieces, facts and statistics.


The pigeon update from Google aimed to improve local search results.

  • Local Search – In an attempt to give users better results, Google is now looking at the content to see if surrounding areas are mentioned as well. They also improved their distance and location ranking criteria to give users the most relevant results possible. Instead of penalizing websites for what they were doing wrong, this algorithm update focused on rewarding those that were taking the proper measures to cater to local searches.

If your still confused and would like additional clarification, be sure to contact Joe Restivo for further assistance.