Google’s updates mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To most search marketers who were active between 2010 and today, they’re cursed things that ruin strategies and make life more difficult than it has to be. I must be the exception. I was surprised when my company’s rankings tanked after the Panda update in 2011, but once I figured out what was going on behind the scenes, I was pretty stoked about it.
The average user doesn’t notice because the changes have been so gradual and iterative, but the world of search today is much more convenient, accurate, and helpful than the world of even five years ago. It got me thinking—how much better would the world be if these updates could magically apply to the real world?
Panda’s goal was to make online content better. It rewarded sites with well-researched, well-written content and penalizes those with poorly written or spammy content.
I can think of about a million ways this could be helpful in real life. For one, social media profiles of people who avoid traditional linguistic or grammatical rules as if it will give them some sort of disease would all fall by the wayside. (I guess that’s technically online, but still). Texters who chronically mistype would find themselves forced to improve. And the people who pay attention to detail would be rewarded for their thoughtful efforts.
Penguin’s goal was to make offsite recognition of authority better. It rewarded sites with natural, high-authority links and penalized those with spammy links or those built with shady practices.
Here, I think of recommendations by friends and family members. Friends who consistently give recommendations for movies that turn out to be bad would find themselves less able to give that advice (I think of some duct-tape-style contraption, but use your imagination). Family members who argue the merits of obsolete biases or legislation would find themselves muted temporarily upon using bad information. It would be wonderful.
Hummingbird didn’t have a goal, per say. Instead, it introduced a concept called “semantic search,” which allows Google to analyze the intent behind a user’s query rather than the keywords in the query itself. Think of it as a form of natural language understanding.
If only I had a Hummingbird filter in my brain. The things people ask me when they have no idea what they’re talking about is somehow mind boggling. With a Hummingbird filter, I could easily process exactly what people are asking for, and come up with a reasonable answer. The Autocomplete feature in Google would also be nice, but that might be asking too much.
This was just a fun thought experiment, but I hope it’s helped you better understand the fundamental intentions of these updates and how they affect the search landscape. If you’re interested in more information about SEO, be sure to check out some of my other articles as well.