Penguins, Pandas, Hummingbird and Google

Google certainly has some unique naming practices, from it’s Android operating systems to it’s search engine algorithms. Don’t let the cute and cuddly names throw you off track -- Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird are all cut-throat algorithm updates that have transformed the world of search engine optimization and search query results. But you don’t have to figure out what these updates are doing to your site alone. Online Potential is here to help you understand what Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird do and how you can protect your site from falling in the rankings.


Google Panda was released in order to penalize websites that provided low-quality (or no quality) content. Content found on these sites might repeat phrases and keywords without providing any informative content. Upon it’s initial release, many websites fell in the rankings for having more advertising on a page than content or for featuring content that didn’t tell you anything (this is often referred to as “thin” content). Penalized sites also included those that were disorganized in content, layout and link hierarchy.


This Google algorithm update is as easy as black and white. Penguin aims to penalize websites that engage in Black Hat SEO tactics while promoting sites that follow White Hat SEO techniques and adhere to Google Webmaster Tools guidelines. While it sounds pretty easy, we’ll show you how to keep yourself from veering unknowingly into Black Hat tendencies.

  1. Parasite Hosting: Hackers are taking a URL that is established and well-ranked by Google and adding their own extension to it. This lets the site rank well because of the associated domain, but the site is usually spam like male enhancement promotions.
  2. Cloaking & Redirects: Cloaking occurs when a site displays one page to a crawling (or indexing) search engine but shows a different page to people who click on the link. This is an obvious Black Hat strategy because there’s just no reason this would benefit a credible website. Redirects happen when you click a URL but the link takes you to a different URL. The link probably looks legitimate and relevant to whatever you are looking for, but the site you land on is likely spam, or worse, contains malicious code or viruses.
  3. Keyword Spamming: This once-abundant strategy has fallen to the wayside a bit due to the aggressiveness of Penguin. Sites can no longer include excessive keywords and rank well. This also includes using irrelevant keywords or hidden/invisible keywords. Now, innocent sites may fall victim to this because content creators who don’t fully understand SEO may incorporate keywords in hopes of increasing search engine rankings. But that just isn’t how Google wants websites to be. Rather than filling your content with often-searched keywords, expand your content to fully explain information or demonstrate material that can educate your audience.
  4. Duplicate copy: If several of your pages has duplicated content, you may be falling in the ranks. If you find you must repeat information on a few of your pages, then make sure the content is unique on its own. Never copy content word-for-word from another site, and if you quote a person, blog or article, always include attribution. (But paraphrasing might be better.)


Google aims to get behind the intent of the search query with Hummingbird. Rather than just returning sites that match keywords or synonyms, Hummingbird tries to understand why a person is performing such a search and then return sites that will appeal to that underlying cause. So, how can you make sure your audience and consumers are finding your website?

Once again, it all comes down to quality content with Google. Hummingbird can actually help your company predict your consumers’ searches by figuring out why they search the way they do and what they want to get out of the search. For example, “Gainesville FL Plumber” might be a search query, but how often would that exact phrase work in content on your website? Well, not very often unless you aren’t concerned about proper punctuation and readability. So, a plumber in Gainesville would want to focus on why a person is searching that term. This likely would include the services provided. After all, few people search for a local plumber unless they are in need of services, and often it’s an emergency. Hummingbird will help searchers find the relevant information they need behind the query, like returning a plumbing services page or a 24/7 plumbing emergency service site.

The Bottom Line

Some website managers may find it difficult to anticipate or keep up with Google’s many updates. But we’ll let you in on a secret: If you create a quality, well-maintained and highly functional website, people will find you. You may slip in the rankings here and there, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it, like if one of your competitors gets it together and puts together a nice website package. And for the little things, you can adjust links, content, and layout to adhere to new algorithm guidelines and policies.

Because we provide content, design and coding for websites, we are always on the lookout for Google updates. If we manage your content, whether it be blogs, social media content or website content, we can make any necessary changes for you as the need arises. Contact Online Potential today and find out how we can keep your site ready for the next Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird or other animal-themed update.

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