Google has redefined search experience completely with three algorithms, namely Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. The entire search scenario has changed for the good, and continues to change, since the first Panda update was announced in February 2011 and the Penguin update on April 24, 2012. The latest addition to the line of important algorithm changes is the Hummingbird, which was introduced in September 2013. Here is a snapshot of all three.
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Google enjoys a huge lead over its competitors in the race for search user traffic. Also, at the rate at which it is updating and redefining search, it might not be long before its competitors, Bing, Yahoo and the likes, will be completely ruled out of the race. And all this is not without a cause. The reason behind such success and popularity is that Google went to extreme lengths and took very futuristic steps in order to ensure that users can get a better search experience and only relevant websites are displayed at the top of search results.
Previously, many fraudulent techniques, now better known as black-hat SEO, were used in order to increase a website's rankings. The techniques included mirror or duplicate sites, commercially bought back links, keyword stuffing, a lot of web spam and a lot more. All this and more led to a surge in spammy sites and keyword search returning completely useless or irrelevant results. The result - a wretched user experience that left users yearning for better results. Enter the Panda, Google's first martial to combat web spam. It did a wonderful job and spam sites that were previously displayed on page 1 were now pushed back so much that users never ventured into those territories. It used a lot of artificial intelligence to achieve this feat. Websites were ranked on the basis of their content and usability, website design and the overall experience that it offers.
Google sent it's second martial, the Penguin, to aid Panda. Penguin took care of the link building of the websites. Many websites complained of scrapers or copyright infringers to have achieved better rankings. Penguin took care of the fact that a website and its SEO needs to take care of all the points mentioned in the Google's Webmaster Guidelines and the link building was only genuine, and not commercial or spammy. The result of the two algorithm combating spam affected search results a lot, and were very effective in fighting web spam, as they still are.
In September 2013, Google announced its latest algorithm, Hummingbird. It is aimed at changing the search experience and the way SEO is done forever. Google wants searches to be more conversational. This, according to it, is important since keyword-based searches might return irrelevant results or something that users are not exactly looking for. The searches will now be long-tailed and will satisfy a query rather than just a keyword analysis.
The algorithm reinforces the need for fresh and interesting content heavily. The focus on keywords should also be more long-tailed and grammatical now. Instead of 'Drupal services India', the new focus search phrase would be 'where can I find good Drupal services in India', or 'good Drupal services providers in India'. This is certain to change the search scenario forever, and help make searches more specific. It might also aid users who are not very tech savvy and those who might not be able to remember the exact keywords they are looking for.
There have been many updates to these algorithms in the past and there will continue to be more updates. And with each new update, Google will aim at making online search a better experience for users, slowly but steadily.
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