The difference between Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird

Many of the changes are so subtle that few people notice them, but one thing the Expedia mishap has told us is that if you’re unaware, it could impact your stock price and value in the long run – not to mention a whopping Google penalty.

So let’s go back to 2011 when Google started naming algorithm updates after animals.

As sites began using “black hat” SEO to boost their way up the rankings, Google struggled to maintain the concept of giving users quality content relevant to their searches. So, it was important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what Panda strives to do.

Panda was designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites which are low-value add for users. Essentially, the update is all about assessing overall website quality.

A famous blog post by Google employee Amit Singhai provides guidelines on what Panda looks for through a set of questions:

  • 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?
Singhai also explained that these questions all contribute to how real-life users rate the quality of your site.

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