Your SEO strategy must be based on Google’s algorithm. Unfortunately, this algorithm is constantly changed. Some of those changes are small tweaks, but others are huge and have a massive impact. Google also often doesn’t tell people about an upcoming change, or what it means. Instead, SEO professionals have to discuss what they believe is happening, how it is affecting their work, and what they should do about it. Let’s take a look at the main changes.
1. The Panda SEO Strategy
Panda happened on February 24, 2011. It stopped thin content and obtrusive ads, and it banned keyword stuffing. Essentially, Panda stopped “webspam”, which meant a complete overhaul of tactics was required. It gave websites a quality score, which was only a filter before then. By 2016, Panda penalties had very rapid impacts, but making changes also had a quicker impact.
2. The Penguin SEO Strategy
Penguin happened on April 24, 2012. It focused further on getting rid of webspam. The focus here was more specifically on spammy backlinks. Link farms went out of business and only links to real, high quality websites still have an impact. Google described it as a way to reward sites with high quality links.
3. The Hummingbird SEO Strategy
Hummingbird happened on August 22, 2013. Before this, the individual words in searches mattered, which enabled SEO strategists to focus on keywords. Hummingbird placed the focus on the entire phrase and what it meant. Essentially, this became the first semantic search.
4. The Pigeon SEO Strategy
Pigeon happened on July 24, 2014. Its aim was to bring the local pack and the ranking algorithm more closely together. The focus was on local search results. Again, it also ensured that the most rewarding, high quality sites were the ones that would show up.
The Mobile update, quickly renamed Mobilegeddon, happened on April 21, 2015. This was Google’s way of making sure websites started to focus on mobile responsiveness. Websites that were responsive saw an instant reward, and those that weren’t lost their positions.
RankBrain happened on October 26, 2015. This was an implementation of machine learning, ensuring their core algorithm could continue to develop. The impact of this was highly complex and reached into the core of SEO. It was the first time that human work was essentially completely removed and automated. Specifically, however, RankBrain was about long tail queries and making it easier for those to be processed.
8. The Fred SEO Strategy
Fred is the most recent strategy, implemented on March 8, 2017. The focus of Fred was on affiliate marketing, which meant content started to become ad-centered, which violates the Google guidelines. Sites affected by Fred saw a drop in organic traffic of as much as 90%, essentially killing off their work.
Sites whose main purpose was driving ad-revenue, rather than providing valuable content, were heavily penalized, with some sources reporting as much as a 90% drop in organic traffic to some affected sites. The Fred update is just the latest in Google’s continued pursuit of ridding the SERPs of value-less content.