The SEO Zoo – recent changes to Google


Google’s Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird algorithmic updates have meant that editorial quality and referral sites are now key (90% of UK searches are made through Google).

“What does SEO have to do with these various animals?” I hear you ask. Well, here’s a simple breakdown on each algorithm and what it means to us.


Google’s Panda algorithm came into the world in February 2011.  It’s an algorithm that is based on search result filtering.  Panda runs to help eliminate spamming, copy and paste, as well as its low quality content and back links.  When Panda vets sites that have these violations it replaces them with quality sites.

To prevent a decline in search rankings and traffic, continue or start to generate meaningful and original content on a daily basis – whether social media, blogs, press releases and website content.  These are all key factors in attracting the eye of the Panda!


The Penguin 2.1 algorithm was created in October 2013 and helps sniff out spam links, resulting in a lowering of search rankings.

Although affecting just 1% of searches, it now means that web administrators and PRs will be penalised if they adopt so-called black hat techniques.*  Google has set out quality guidelines for inbound links and users need to remove offending links ASAP.  Naturally, we review all links on sites and ensure that sites are ‘Penguin friendly’.


So far the biggest change happened in 2014, with the introduction of Google’s newest algorithm, Hummingbird.   The algorithm aims to give searches precisely what they are looking for.  So Google users can ask questions and receive results that actually attempt to answer the question, not just see it as a string of keywords.  This means we now look at ways that users can find content without relying on keywords. Addressing questions, commenting on hot topics and generating news related stories can help the Hummingbird ‘sing’!

What it all means

These changes mean that SEO and PR now share a fundamental requirement.  Both rely on highly relevant, informative and topical content.  In effect, we are now seeing a merger of the two practices as marketers seek to boost web traffic, and improve the resonance of their PR messages.

To use the well-trodden ‘content is king’ buzz phrase, content marketing is now the most effective way of earning links online.  So, on a practical level, this means that we ate Henley now look at a press release and, before a word has been written, closely consider how the intended target audience will use the information to repost onto other online communities.

Some food for thought

  • Start a blog or online community and publish information regularly
  • Think about SEO when writing any PR and marketing content, but don’t publish something just to have content ‘out there’ (this may have an adverse affect on SEO)
  • Keep content topical and distinctive through new arguments and debate that can entice the reader

*Black Hat Techniques – These are techniques that boost rankings in an unethical manner.  The techniques break search engine rules and regulations and present the content in a different visual way to both users and search engine spiders.

Further Reading – The HGI SEO white paper is now available.  Please click here to download the PDF version.