Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird Algorithm Predictions for 2015

Speculations about Google algorithms for the New Year

One of the most prevalent things I’ve learned–and adjusted to–in 2014 is the absolute unpredictability of SEO. Despite constant speculation, one can never be too sure about what Google will unveil next. (Here’s to lookin’ at you, Penguin 3.0.) And yet, it is hard not to anticipate where the Google bots will take us in the future. So, better to be offensive than defensive in this dog-eat-dog world of paid and organic search, am I right? For this reason, I’ve compiled a list of my most plausible speculations and ideas about where Google Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates will take us in 2015.

Best Guesses for Google Panda Updates in 2015?

Google Panda is perhaps the most frequently refreshed and updated of all the algorithms. Focused on relieving the interweb of plagiarism and redundancy, Google Panda is our friend who takes care of low quality content surfacing on the Web. The latest confirmed update of the algorithm rolled out in late September 2014, Panda 4.1. Google’s Pierre Farr helps us understand where Google plans to go in the future in regards to Panda updates, explaining that the 4.1 update “helps Panda identify low-quality content more precisely.” And though this is by far the most insightful news we’ve heard from the super-secretive Google webmasters, comments of any kind are appreciated for interested SEO-ers who more or less wade through the algorithm updates on a basis of analytics and trial and error.

So, as far as 2015 goes, I predict–and by no means assert as fact–that Panda will function more or less the same, as Google will most likely continue to use the same algorithm for the new year, fine tuning as needed to keep the SERP as relevant as possible on the same, if not more frequent, continuous basis.

Google Penguin, on the other hand, should be in for some major overhaul in 2015.

Best Guesses for Google Penguin Updates in 2015?

The Google Penguin algorithm is responsible for de-spamming the web, or at least Google’s version of the web, by giving less power (by means of ranking, and therefore relevance, in search queries) to domains that have followed bad SEO techniques in building their online footprint. Whether this be through the outdated practice of keyword stuffing, or through the ever-present tactic of bad link building techniques, the Penguin update has been taking names in 2013-14, especially during the recent holiday season.

Though the reverberations of Penguin 3.0 are still being felt, we’ve finally been given an explanation for the rather messy, confusing rollout. A Google rep explains the hubbub:

That last big [Penguin 3.0] update is still rolling out — though really there won’t be a particularly distinct end-point to the activity, since Penguin is shifting to more continuous updates. The idea is to keep optimizing as we go now.

This is great news for domains, especially those that were recently punished by the new update. Because Google has now confirmed more frequent rollouts, this also suggests that refreshes will likely be apart of the Penguin algorithm, much like Panda’s frequent update and refresh schedule. For webmasters this means less time in between indexing, which previously limited some sites to year-long sentences in the dog-house for bad SEO. In 2015, sites punished by Penguin rollouts may have a brighter future. Instead of suffering low web traffic for a year, sites may be privy to shorter amounts of time in the dog-house, and therefore shorter periods of low traffic.

Other possible Penguin updates to be seen in 2015:

  • Strength in good, natural links.
    • As Penguin evolves, the algorithm will continue to mature which means that previously overlooked spammy, irrelevant links will be easier to spot and devalue. As a result, natural links from reputable, strong websites will become easier to recognize and provide increased strength for domains.


Best Guesses for Google Hummingbird Updates in 2015? 

Google Hummingbird is the way of the future, and for 2015 this means an abundance of updates in the algorithm. Hummingbird, launched in August/September of 2013, focuses on the development of semantic search and long-tail keywords in search queries. And with a mobile search expected to continue to eclipse desktop search in 2015, this becomes increasingly relevant for Google Hummingbird. The new-to-the-scene algorithm is developing technology to decode semantic search patterns in an effort to better serve the trillions of Google queries each month. As such, domain managers should expect less exact keyword matching, and focus on long-tail and a variety of keywords for businesses. Because the number of mobile users Google searching with voice activation technology on their smartphones is expected to increase, domain owners should adjust to the trend and get more creative and varying the keyword vocabulary for landing pages.

Final Thoughts

As time progresses, Google algorithms will invariably become more complex and harder to understand. And new indexing techniques–crawling multimedia for example–are in the not-so distant future. For domain managers looking to make 2015 the starting point for a major overhaul, focusing on staying one step ahead of Google is becoming harder to do. And yet, following the tried and true techniques of optimizing websites based on user experience and intent is becoming more important, now more than ever, in terms of maintaining page rank for target audiences.