Google Penguin, Panda, & Hummingbird

Search engine algorithms are based on a simple premise: searchers want an answer to their queries. For any search, there are hundreds or thousands of sites that offer a potential link or insight related to the query. As a result, search engines need to accomplish three goals:
  • Disqualify all the sites that aren’t relevant.
  • Return a list of sites that are relevant.
  • Rank and prioritize those sites in order of importance, to identify which sites are the most relevant.
Because no single factor is sufficient to provide these insights, Google and other search engines use complex algorithms that blend dozens of factors. The exact formula isn’t known, but a range of topics are considered. These include:
  • Link authority: number of incoming links, quality of the sites, anchor text used
  • On page factors: such as title tags, responsive mobile design, page loading speed
  • Brand metrics: search volume for the brand, brand mentions, citations of brand name in connection with specific keywords
  • Content: quality and depth of content, frequency of new content updates, reads and shares on social media
Just when you think you’ve grasped the specific details of Google’s algorithm, it’s important to note that changes occur all the time. By understanding the historical trends in what’s changed and staying on top of how things are evolving, website owners stand the best chance of developing and implementing strategies that lead to great long-term rankings. For a more in-depth look at Search Engine ranking factors, see Moz’s annual Search Ranking Factors survey.
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