Monkey Owl

What Are Google Algorithms? Google’s Search Algorithm and Important Google’S Ranking Factors

What is Google Algorithm?

Google’s algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query. The search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

  1. Panda
  2. Penguin
  3. Hummingbird
  4. Pigeon
  5. Mobile
  6. RankBrain
  7. Possum
  8. Fred

What is a Google algorithm for search?

The basic Google algorithm is used for each search conducted on the site, but it’s personalized by the searcher. For instance, an individual who inputs “buy running shoes” wants very different results from someone who types “cat videos.”

The algorithm is adjusted for each search, and can be altered by even the slightest changes to spelling and word order. The results are then given to the user, who can decide which site to visit.

What is a Google algorithm for SEO?

As mentioned previously, the Google algorithm partially uses keywords to determine page rankings. The best way to rank for specific keywords is by doing SEO. SEO essentially is a way to tell Google that a website or web page is about a particular topic.

Years ago, it was commonplace for many sites to “keyword stuff” their content. In essence, they assumed that the Google algorithm would think that the more keywords that were written, the more important the page should be.

Once Google realized this, they altered their algorithm to penalize sites that stuff their pages with keywords, as well as many other “black hat” SEO practices. Because of this, you should avoid any tactic that is done with the aim of outsmarting search engines. Although they may not notice right away, Google will eventually pick up on what you are trying to do, and your rankings will suffer.

1. Panda

Launch date: February 24, 2011


  • Poor User Experience
  • Duplicate
  • Plagiarized
  • Thin Content
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • User Generated Spam

How it works:

  • Panda is mainly focused on content.
  • Panda assigns a so-called “quality score” to web pages; this score is then used as a ranking factor.
  • Initially, Panda was a filter rather than part of Google’s ranking algorithm, but in January 2016, it was officially incorporated into the core algorithm.

How to Adjust:

Run regular site checks for content duplication, thin content and keyword stuffing. To do that, you’ll need a site crawler tools.

2. Penguin

Launch date: April 24, 2012


  • Spam or irrelevant links (Backlinks)
  • Links with over-optimized anchor text
  • Keyword Stuffing

How it works:

  • Google Penguin’s objective is to down-rank sites whose links it deems manipulative.
  • And between 2012 to 2016; it went through several updates.
  • Since late 2016 or early 2017 Penguin has been part of Google’s core algorithm.

How to Adjust:

Monitor your link profile’s growth and run regular audits with a backlink checker.

3. Hummingbird

Launch date: August 20, 2013


  • Low-quality content
  • Keyword Stuffing

How it works:

  • Hummingbird has been part of Google’s core algorithm; unlike Panda, it works in real time.
  • Hummingbird helps Google better interpret search queries and provide results that match user’s intent.
    • Knowledge Graph
    • Semantic Search
    • Local Search
  • Hummingbird makes it possible for a page to rank for a query even if it doesn’t contain the exact words the searcher entered. This is achieved with the help of natural language processing that relies on latent semantic indexing, co-occurring terms and synonyms.
    • Voice Search
    • Long Term Keywords

How to Adjust:

Expand your keyword research and focus on concepts, not keywords. Carefully research related searches, synonyms and co-occurring terms. Great sources of such ideas are Google Related Searches and Google Auto-complete.

4. Pigeon

Launch date: July 24, 2014


  • Poor on- and off-page SEO

How it works:

  • Pigeon affects those searches in which the user’s location plays an important part.
  • It provided more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search Ranking Signals.
  • This algorithm keeps improving                 their distance and location ranking parameter.
  • It helps in Local SEO and also takes part in improving Google My Business results.

How to Adjust:

Invest effort into on- and off-page SEO.

5. Mobile

Launch date: April 21, 2015


  • Lack of a mobile version of the page
  • Poor mobile usability

How it works:

  • Google’s Mobile Update (aka Mobilegeddon – a name by SEL) ensures that mobile-friendly pages rank at the top of mobile search, while pages not optimized for mobile are filtered out from the SERPs or seriously down-ranked.
  • Also Checks for AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

How to Adjust:

Google’s mobile-friendly test will help you see which aspects of your page’s mobile version need to be improved.

6. RankBrain

Launch date: October 26, 2015


  • Lack of query-specific relevance features (Lesser CTR)
  • Shallow content (Lesser Dwell Time)
  • Poor UX (More Bounce Rate)

How it works:

  • RankBrain is part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. It is a machine learning system that helps Google understand the meaning behind queries, and serve best-matching search results in response to those queries.
  • It’s paying very close attention to how user interacts with the search results. Specially it’s looking at:
    • Organic CTR
    • Dwell Time
    • Bounce Rate

How to Adjust:

Optimize content for relevance and comprehensiveness with the help of competitive analysis.

7. Possum

Launch date: September 1, 2016


  • Tense competition in your target location (GMB)

How it works:

  • Filtered Results Based on Affiliation:
    • Pre Possum: Multiple Business Sharing Affiliation – Same Google Category & located at same location
    • Post Possum: Filtered Affiliation – Shows one or two results of the same location. After clicking show more, hidden location gets showed.
  • Business beyond city borders: Ex. Coffee Cafe in Delhi
  • The Possum update ensured that local results vary more depending on the searcher’s location: the closer you are to a business’s address, the more likely you are to see it among local results.
  • Interestingly, Possum also gave a boost to businesses located outside the physical city.

How to Adjust:

Local businesses now need to be targeting more keywords than they used to, due to the volatility Possum brought into the local SERPs.

8. Fred

Launch date: March 8, 2017


  • Thin, affiliate-heavy or ad-centered content
  • Large presence of ads
  • Content created for ranking purpose (Keyword Stuffing – does not provide value for users)
  • Quality of content below industry-specific sites (Sites talk lesser about topics & more about ads)
  • Deceptive Ads: Click Tricking (Ex: Click here, Download)
  • Aggressive monetization

How it works:

  • Fred targets websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines.
  • The majority of affected sites are blogs with low-quality posts that appear to be created mostly for the purpose of generating ad revenue.

How to Adjust:

Watch out for thin content. If you show ads, make sure the pages they are found on are high-quality and offer relevant, ample information.

Don’t try to trick Google into thinking your page is about something when it really is a gateway page full of affiliate links. Most publishers make money off ads, and that’s totally legit as long as you are not cheating.

How Search algorithms work?

With the amount of information available on the web, finding what you need would be nearly impossible without some help sorting through it. Google ranking systems are designed to do just that: sort through hundreds of billions of webpages in our Search index to find the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second, and present them in a way that helps you find what you’re looking for.

These ranking systems are made up of not one, but a whole series of algorithms. To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms look at many factors, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings.

Important Google Ranking Factors

  • Target Keywords
  • Quality Content
  • Page Speed
  • User experience
  • Social Signals
  • Schema Code
  • Domain Authority
  • Technical SEO
  • Relevant Backlinks
  • Mobile Responsive
  • Brand Strength
  • Domain Strength
  • Content Freshness

What are all the crucial factors to improve the ranking?

  • The content quality of the web page
  • How fresh, in-depth your content is
  • Authority of your domain for the subject
  • Number of quality and relevant backlinks

What are the common SEO Mistakes to be avoided?

  • Not considerate about the freshness and the quality of the webpage
  • Not having unique title and description
  • Optimizing for very broad keywords
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Building multiple low quality backlinks
  • Using poorly-written content
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