Panda, Penguin & Hummingbird: Google algorithms that Every Digital Marketer Should Know About

google algorithms

If you notice your site’s hard-earned site’s rankings have suddenly started dropping on Google SERP’s, then you might have been affected by one of the Google algorithms. No doubt, you probably have heard about these silent judges who made it possible: Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, to name but a few. These algorithms are three of the major algorithms of all time, which can seriously shake up your SERP’s.

My point of writing this article is to give you a good primer on what these Google algorithms are meant to do and how Google is using them to produce search results.

A quick insight into Google algorithms

When you search for information on the Internet, Google algorithms do the work for you by searching for web pages that contain the keywords you used in your query. Then, they assign a range to each page based on several factors, including how many times (and where) the keywords appear on the page. The pages with a higher score appear higher on the search engine results page of Google (SERP). It means that the results related to your search query are theoretically the first ones listed by Google using the algorithms.

Google has a long list of algorithm updates. But out of all, Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird are the 3 most important and biggest Google algorithm updates that SEO people should know to not only save themselves from the negative effects of these silent judges but use them to their advantage as well.

Unwrapping the role of Google algorithms

Every Google algorithm has a well-defined mission. However, they have a common goal and it is to give the best answer to the user. They determine which page of websites must go up in the search results by following the keywords typed by users. For this, the algorithms are based on more than 200 criteria. Among them, the most important are:

  • Relevance and quality of content
  • The keywords of the page
  • The structure of the page
  • Awareness of the site/pages
  • The technical performance of the site/pages

When a major modification is made to an algorithm, Google names it by giving it most of the time an animal name. It is essential to keep abreast of these developments as they may have both negative and positive impacts on sites.

Moving further now, I’ll discuss the three major Google Algorithms in detail.

Google Panda – The content guarantor

google panda

Launched in February 2011, Google Panda update was a big deal. This algorithm purpose is to demote poor quality sites with low added value content. In other words, sites that publish content for the sole purpose of generating advertising revenue or duplicate the existing content.

However, there are several other factors that probably play a role in the Panda algorithm.

How to improve in the eyes of Google Panda?

  • Produce informative, qualitative and generous contents with the aim of informing Internet users
  • Stop over-optimizing the content, which is meaningless and contains only keywords
  • Remove thin, duplicate content and avoid plagiarism!

Google Penguin – The hunter of links

google penguin

Initially rolled out in April 2012, the main goal of penguin update is to reduce the link manipulation Google Penguin throws himself headfirst into the icy water of the web to come out reinvigorated and punish sites that use abusive SEO techniques.

Most often, it is the creation of outgoing artificial links. The animal hunts for linking operations (net-linking, exchange links), which are deemed too aggressive. Nothing stops it; it works since 2016 in real time.

How to improve in the eyes of Google Penguin?

The penalties apply on some pages of the site and not on the entire site. So, the pages are  are only downgraded but not removed from the index. Here are some rules to avoid the sanctions of the Penguin algorithm.

  • Do not put too many keywords within a domain name. Google now favors the name of the brand or company rather than the keywords in the domain name.
  • Use the links with varying anchors (an anchor is the text content with a link)
  • Avoid buying and selling links to improve your rankings
  • Never use poor quality back-links: without common themes, from bad quality sites, links from directories and press releases
  • Do not over-optimize or stuff your pages with keywords
  • Avoid link exchanges in the footer

Google Hummingbird – The Advent of semantic research

google hummingbird

The hummingbird algorithm update was announced in September 2013. Unlike Panda and Penguin, it wasn’t just a new part of the Google algorithm; but was a completely new engine. Its main focus is to better understand the user query by interpreting the user intent behind a query.

Google chose to name this algorithm Hummingbird because the search through this became precise and fast. Thanks to this algorithm, Google can henceforth understand a query or a sentence as a whole and no longer according to one or a few keywords. The proposed results are therefore of much better quality, and the research became more humane.

Unlike two brigands of big brothers (Panda & Penguin), Hummingbird is not intended to penalize web pages or to downgrade the sites of Google’s search index. It allows Google to pass keywords in everyday language.

How to improve in the eyes of Google Hummingbird?

  • Create content that is rich with information and answer user queries in a generic manner
  • Find semantic search-friendly keywords and phrases through keyword finder tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush and Moz’s Keyword Explorer
  • Be thorough and complete in what your website offers.


In the end, remember if you have high quality content that does not try to alter indexing, then you should not have a problem with Panda. If you do not create unnatural links or buy links that pass PageRank in exchange for money, then you are at ease with Penguin algorithm.

Likewise, if you are able to create content that provides answers for complex searches, then you should be fine with Hummingbird either.

Alike Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird,  Fred update is also a big Google algorithm update that can hit your site due to low-value, ad heavy or over-optimized content.

Do you still have any queries about these Google algorithms? If yes, I’d love to answer them in the comments. Also, I would be happy to hear the experiences of those who have been dealing with websites affected by these issues.

If you have a quest of knowing more then get in touch with me, I would be glad to answer your queries.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.