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We looked back at the updates to Google’s search engine algorithm that killed off quick and simple ‘black hat’ SEO techniques.

Every good online marketer knows that SEO is far from static. From link building to content, the strategies that drive successful SEO campaigns forward are constantly changing to adapt to new algorithms, policies, and industry trends.

At the same time, Google’s innovative search engine is constantly changing. With a wide range of new features like Google Local, SEOs are having to constantly adapt to an industry that refuses to stand still.

From tired old spam linking strategies to the beginning of the end for guest bloggers and content syndication, we’ve looked back at the updates to Google’s search engine algorithm that killed off quick and simple ‘black hat’ SEO techniques.

Google Panda: The end of ‘thin websites

In February 2011, Google launched one of its most ambitious algorithm updates. A huge update, Google Panda affected an estimated 12 percent of all search keywords, pushing low quality websites down the rankings and high quality websites up.

Google’s goals were simple: improve the quality of its search results and remove the hundreds of thousands of ‘thin’ websites from its index that had been showing up in first place for high-value keywords prior to the update.

The biggest victims included affiliate websites designed to funnel traffic off-site to a merchant or CPA offer, scraper websites that reposted unoriginal content, and spam links generated by forum posting and blog commenting software.

While Panda was a big setback for low quality SEOs and automated tactics, it had an overall positive impact on the search engine results pages. Fewer ‘thin’ sites clogged up Google’s index, and searchers were rewarded with easier access to better sites.

Thankfully, with the right mentality it can be quite simple to develop content that’s both search-friendly and engaging for readers. Check out our 5 simple tips for developing SEO content that satisfies search Engines and readers.

Google Penguin: The end of easy link schemes

Although Panda was an ambitious update to Google’s search algorithm, it failed to completely remove low quality websites from the search engine’s index. Penguin, which followed a year later, took aim at websites that used automated links from forums, blog comments, and link networks to game Google’s search algorithm.

Penguin was a significantly smaller update than Panda, affecting just 3.1 percent of search queries compared to Panda’s 12 percent. Penguin also took aim at keywords in languages other than English, specifically targeting “highly spammed” languages such as German, Arabic, and Chinese.

If Panda was the death of low-quality, ‘thin’ websites, Penguin was the end of poor quality, automated, or purchased links. Since the Penguin update launched in 2012, Google has continued its efforts to detect link spam and wipe out paid link networks.

Google Hummingbird: The beginning of ‘human’ content

Most of the schemes used to manipulate Google’s search algorithm took aim at its non-human nature. Being mathematical, the algorithm Google uses to organize its results struggles to distinguish between content that’s designed for search engines and content that’s designed for humans.

That all changed with Google Hummingbird – an update that Google rolled out in August of 2013. Hummingbird aims to make Google’s assessment of content more ‘human,’ leading to better results for searchers and an end to automated or low-quality website content.

Just like Panda was the death of ‘thin’ websites and Penguin the end of automated link building, Google Hummingbird was the beginning of the end for websites that relied on low quality, ‘spun,’ or automated content for their rankings.

Are guest bloggers Google’s next target?

Earlier this year, Matt Cutts – Google’s head of webspam – blogged about the end of guest blogging for SEO. In his post, Cutts claimed that guest blogging had gone from being focused on building organic audiences and driving traffic to being all about the SEO benefits of links from high-Page Rank blogs.

While many websites still rank using guest blog posts as the foundation of their SEO strategy, their days could be limited. Based on Google’s previous algorithm updates, which specifically targeted techniques exploited by SEOs, websites that depend on guest blog posts could be next in line for an algorithm update.


At Bliss Drive, we stay abreast with the latest news and updates to deliver targeted and high quality organic traffic towards your site. Contact us today for a free consultation and instant free quote on SEO services. Our representatives will be too happy to discuss with you about we can do for your site.

Questions? Call us today!