Panda, penguin, hummingbird—no, we’re not talking about animals at the zoo—we’re talking about the different updates and algorithm changes that have been released by Google throughout the past decade.
Search engine marketers, or SEO professionals, have one goal—make your website appear very high on the search engine results page (SERP). A decade ago, SEO used to be a very easy and straightforward process. Basically, you just had to get a bunch of backlinks to point to your site, along with some keyword stuffed content, and boom, you were front and center on the SERP.
Google and other web crawlers eventually caught on and started punishing “Black Hat” processes. Finally last year in 2013, a new algorithm, Hummingbird, was launched with a goal of clean search without manipulation.
SEO teams panicked and tried to figure how to make the new algorithm work for them. While they were busy doing that, Google was already testing new versions.
According to Matt Cutts, head of the spam department at Google, a new algorithm is first tested offline. Searches are conducted and new URLs show up on the SERP. “Google can request these raters to rate the new URLs or compare the old search results to this new test set. Then based on those metrics, Google may decide to move the test to the next phase,” reported Barry Schwartz.
The next step is testing the new algorithm on the unsuspecting public. “If Google sees a higher click rate on the new search results, it may imply that the new results are better than the older ones,” reported Schwartz.
The final step for the new algorithm is getting approval from the Google Search Quality Launch Committee. Once it has that, it goes live.
Great SEO is all about staying one step ahead of the Google algorithm curve.