Google has a long list of search engine algorithms designed to help users find the most relevant, organic, and original content online. Since 2012, the search engine giant has released a long list of specific and general algorithmic updates with funny names like “Panda” and “Pirate” that generally audit websites for low quality and spam.
Most digital marketers know about the majority of these search algorithms and how they impact search engine optimization. However, no one has made a simple taxonomy to help their clients and colleagues learn about the major impacts of these algorithms (you could also just give us a call, we could tell you in like five minutes). Until now.
I’ve created a introductory list of Google’s search algorithms by comparing their basic functions to the characteristics of the most popular sharks known to man. The shark-based hierarchy, or “shark-erachy” for short, is intended to help define and elaborate on how Google search penalizes and attacks poorly-optimized content.
By comparison, sharks are the kings of the sea just as Google is the king of SEO and search marketing. But the shark-erachy is needed for three key reasons:
- Some of Google’s search algorithms are named after animals and others are not. Using this unified hierarchy makes it simple for individuals associate these extensive and complex search engine programs with (most of) the sharks that you know and love.
- Sharks are a cultural icon that provide a good chunk residents of Martha’s Vineyard with royalty checks from Jaws and entertain millions for one week on the Discovery Channel.
- Like sharks, Google’s search algorithms are apex predators waiting to devour low-quality and spam-filled content in the blink of an eye.
Here is the definitive, leading, and authoritative list on Google search programs as types of sharks:
Google Pirate Update: Angel Sharks
Google Pirate Update is the search algorithm designed to remove and penalize websites that pirate content due to copyright infringement, and resonates deeply with the behaviors of the Angel Shark.
Angel sharks, which are part of the shark genus Squatina, are bottom-dwelling predators that use their muscular shape, sharp teeth, and speed to eat prey such as fish and crustaceans. Google Pirate would most certainly be an angel shark since it attacks both large and small sites alike with rapid speed to filter out blatant copyright infringement.
When you think of Google Pirate, think of an angel shark as well.
Google Panda: Thresher Sharks
Google Panda is one of Google’s most significant content penalties, which reduces page rankings for sites with thin content, content farming, and duplicate content. Sites that experience a penalty for Google Panda are likely to get burned in the same way the small schools of fish get decimated by a thresher shark.
Thresher sharks are large lamniform sharks from the Alopiidae family and use their long tails to swipe and stun schools of fish. Thresher sharks then corral their prey with their tail and proceed to frenzy these schools of fish.
Google’s Panda algorithm ultimately penalizes websites and pages that “farm” and duplicate significant portions of their content. And just like the thresher shark, it be able to attack multiple pages of duplicate or low-quality in one fell swoop.
Digital marketers need to always incorporate a high-quality content strategy to get the most of out content marketing ROI and avoid a Panda penalty.
Google Penguin Algorithm: Tiger Sharks
Google’s Penguin algorithm targets content that contains webspam and sites that are “over-optimized.” The algorithm lowers rankings on pages that have aggressive exact-match anchor text, keyword stuffing, low-quality article marketing, and use link farming to improve search results. The wide berth of Google’s Penguin penalties are similar to the dietary habits and versatile prey options of the tiger shark.
The tiger shark, the aptly-named 13-foot predator with tiger-like stripes, hunts a variety of prey including fish, crustaceans, birds, turtles, squid, and unfortunately dolphins. The tiger shark is commonly refereed to as a “garbage eater” because biologists have recorded numerous instances where a tiger shark has accidentally consumed metal, plastic, and other inanimate objects.
Just as a tiger shark has a wide scope of prey and trash for food, Google Penguin also consumes and devours low-quality websites with multiple spamming penalties.
Google Hummingbird Algorithm: Great White Shark
Google Hummingbird is the flagship search algorithm that Google uses to help users find new content and get the best possible search results. All of the other algorithms mentioned above are just pieces of Google’s Hummingbird program to help create quality search results. Currently, Hummingbird contains over 200 algorithmic updates to improve user experience on Google Search.
Hummingbird is the most well-known search algorithm for businesses and search marketers just as the great white shark is to the general public.
The great white shark needs little introduction. Carcharodon carcharias, the great white shark, has captured the hearts, fears, and minds of America. This apex predator is famous for several Cape Cod beach closures and putting sharks as a whole in the national spotlight. While the other sharks on this list deserve attention in their own right, none compare to the mystique and klout of the great white.
Great white sharks are the kings of the seas just as Google Hummingbird is the king of quality-driven search updates.
Using this shark-earchy, marketers can easily learn the differences between the most common search programs that impact SEO, organic rankings, and website performance.