In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice. However Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique. The 2012 Google Penguin attempted to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine. Although Google Penguin has been presented as an algorithm aimed at fighting web spam, it really focuses on spammy links by gauging the quality of the sites the links are coming from. The 2013 Google Hummingbird update featured an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages. Hummingbird's language processing system falls under the newly recognised term of 'Conversational Search' where the system pays more attention to each word in the query in order to better match the pages to the meaning of the query rather than a few words . With regards to the changes made to search engine optimization, for content publishers and writers, Hummingbird is intended to resolve issues by getting rid of irrelevant content and spam, allowing Google to produce high-quality content and rely on them to be 'trusted' authors.
Back in the ’90s, two students at Stanford named Larry Page and Sergey Brin started pondering how they could make a better search engine that didn’t get fooled by keyword stuffing. They realized that if you could measure each website’s popularity (and then cross index that with what the website was about), you could build a much more useful search engine. In 1998, they published a scientific paper in which they introduced the concept of “PageRank.” This topic was further explored in another paper that Brin and Page contributed to, “PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web.”
Search results are presented in an ordered list, and the higher up on that list a site can get, the more traffic the site will tend to receive. For example, for a typical search query, the number one result will receive 40-60% of the total traffic for that query, with the number two and three results receiving significantly less traffic. Only 2-3% of users click beyond the first page of search results.
In the last 10 years, the digital landscape has changed significantly. People are phasing out desktop and laptop computers to search the web and interact with content. Instead, they are picking up their mobile phones and tablets. What’s more, digital technology is cheaper today than it’s ever been before; there are virtually no boundaries on how, when and where people can interact with content.
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