Cheat sheet for Google algorithm updates

Google has been very busy with updates over the past few years and I sometimes need a quick reference to remember the differences in the most important algorithm updates — Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. This infographic should be a good cheat sheet:

Google algorithm changes cheat sheet

Google algorithm changes cheatsheet — penguin, panda, hummingbird (click to embiggen)

Below is a little more information for reference:

Major Google algorithm updates 2011- 2014

  1. Panda was introduced February 2011 and the last update was Panda 4.1 in October 2014.
    • What it is: Algorithm update identifies and demotes low quality pages such as content farms, thin content, and duplicate content — from scrapers or from an infrastructure issues on your own site.
    • Action: Don’t republish stolen content, use a canonical tag to clean up duplicate content, make sure what you publish on your site is valuable to your reader and each URL has completely unique content.
    • Search Engine Land’s Google: Panda Update
  2. Penguin was introduced April 2012 and the last update was Penguin 3.0 in December 2014.
    • What it is: Algorithm update penalize sites using spammy link techniques, like link farms and other “unnatural” linking practices.
    • Action: Clean up suspect links leading to your site. Use Google Disavow to distance your site from bad links. Don’t buy links.
    • Search Engine Land’s Google: Penguin Update
  3. Hummingbird was introduced in August 2013 (although it was not publicized until late September 2013) and is not exactly an algorithm update, but an actual change to the SERPs.
    • What it is: Refresh of the entire Google platform to direct searchers to content that answers questions more quickly with the user intent in mind. Hummingbird also takes into account previous searches and is a huge change to how Google provides results.
    • Action: Create content that answers the queries you think your target audience might have and do not try to “rank” for a word or, worse, multiple and not completely related words. Think of your content as a way to fully answer questions about whatever your site is about with very focused pages.
    • Search Engine Land’s Google: Hummingbird Update

Many of these changes are true improvements to the search experience, although many sites felt they were penalized unfairly. I’m certain more interesting updates await in 2015.

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