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The articles here will give you everything you need to plan, design, develop, market and maintain your website, if you have the time required – Enjoy.

Google Hummingbird, Penguin, Panda and Medic?

by | Last updated: Dec 7, 2022

Google Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda ?? The Google Zoo of algorithms

Google is regularly updating algorithms in order to improve search results. Some updates are bigger than others. Some can be relatively small. Some may only relate to one aspect of search, such as mobile responsiveness or Https. Google can not tell us about every detail of every change, as that would allow people manipulate search results.

Panda 2016

Originally a 2011 release with update in 2013 was to get rid of thin sites and give priority to good content sites with low advertising space. Panda Feb 2011 – A search filter to punish sites with poor quality content written for SEO purposes, with keyword stuffing or copied content. It is designed to help small sites with good relevant content climb the rankings. Google would advise that we reduce shallow pages, merge content from these pages to create better long form pages of original content, focus less on algorithms and just improve content and layout to help visitors find what they want quickly – simple! By using LSI Latent Semantic Indexing Google can check what the article is about, even if it is being optimised for some other word or term.

UPDATE 2016 – Panda has been fully incorporated in to Googles main or core algorithm. So it is official, content is king, where it has relevance. Google has also stopped us choosing a location when browsing, making it harder to do research for SEO teams.


Google Panda Penguin

The Terminator, from 2012, an algorithm to punish Black Hat techniques that keeps getting tweaked, to stop link manipulation etc. Penguin April 2012 – A search filter to reduce cheating or spamming by buying links or using link networks to simply boost ranking in Google – Penguin will punish by dropping the ranking dramatically, but the subsequent removal of any such bad links will be noticed and the site can recover over time. This did catch out a lot of sites who used scraped content. A subsequent update rewards goo page layout and less adverts above the fold to help visitors find what they want quickly.
NEWS – Penguin 4. As of September 23rd 2016, Penguin is now part of Googles Core Algorithm “Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site.” Hold on to your hats, as your website might drop (or jump) in Google rankings. This is all about the quality of external links. Try using an incognito window to see where your website now ranks for your key search terms. The roll out of this change may take a few weeks to settle. Any change in rankings will be page specific rather than site wide, which is a big improvement in approach from Google.


August 2012 – A search filter for copyright infringement or plagiarism to support Digital Millennium Copyright Act from Google or DMCA and punish sites that copy content

Payday Loan

June 2014 – Anti Spam Algorithm targeting “spammy queries”. This one hit the headlines when it was amended to remove Authorship photos to make the results easier to view in Mobile, but which annoyed everyone who had been working hard to show authorship


July 2014 – A ‘local’ search algorithm to return better, relevant, useful local results. This update my well favour directories like Yelp


Sweet, cute, sensitive – Google on its 15th birthday added an Algorithm to make Search more user friendly, allowing sentence search rather than keyword search to be treated as normal human behaviour. Hummingbird August 2013 changed how Google processes a search query, taking in to consideration the “whole” query and any synonyms, to better understand what is being searched for. – search intent Ideally this should reduce relevance of keywords and increases relevance of terms or entire queries, in an attempt to deliver better results for the searcher. The truth is that the ‘keyword’ is still highly relevant, but long tail search does improve results, as a result of Hummingbird. This helps Google avoid keyword stuffed articles and find articles that are very much relevant. Now, an article needs to show that it has information about the keyword or terms. It will have synonyms or related terms, used in the content, in order to rank well.


August 2018 saw the core update that has been dubbed Medic, as it seems to affect sites that offer medical help or substances. And it affected sites that give financial advice. This may be an attempt to stop the advertising of dodgy advice, financial tools or medications.

If you know and understand all this stuff you are not in need of our services and if you do not, thats okay, because we do and we recommend good Digital Marketers who obey the Google Laws. Breaking the Law can seriously damage your web wealth.

Google does not give us all their Ranking Signals but in 2011 did give 23 Points to use as guidance see http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ie/2011/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality.html

Below are some questions that one could use to assess the “quality” of a page or an article. These are the kinds of questions we ask ourselves as we write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality. Think of it as our take at encoding what we think our users want.
Of course, we aren’t disclosing the actual ranking signals used in our algorithms because we don’t want folks to game our search results; but if you want to step into Google’s mindset, the questions below provide some guidance on how we’ve been looking at the issue:

  1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  4. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  5. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  6. 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?
  7. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  8. Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  9. How much quality control is done on content?
  10. Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  11. Is the site a recognised authority on its topic?
  12. 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?
  13. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  14. For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  15. Would you recognise this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  16. Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  17. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  18. Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  19. Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  20. Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  21. Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  22. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  23. Would users complain when they see pages from this site?


About The Author

Do you want more traffic?

Hi, at MEANit we help 34 ‘Professional Services Firms‘ to be effective online annually. Will your business be one of the 34 in 2024?


Written by Michael MacGinty

Michael is a well known speaker, author and coach on SEO and how to use the web to grow a business. He is also WP Elevation certified as a Digital Business Consultant.
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