The History of SEO in 2013

February 21, 2019

The History of SEO in 2013

In 2013, Google updated both Panda and Penguin several times. These updates refined the two different technologies to try to increase the quality of pages ranking in the SERPs. On July 18, a Panda update was thought to have been released to “soften” the effects of a previously released Panda, so Google obviously watched the effects of its updates, and modified them accordingly. And with this the role of an ecommerce seo agency changed slightly to reflect the changes with Google.

In June, Google released the “Payday Loan” update. This targeted niches with notoriously spammy SERPs. These niches were often highly commercial, which offered great rewards for any page that could rank highly. Needless to say, spammers loved sites like these. Google gave the example of “payday loans” as a demonstration when announcing this update, hence its name.

August 2013 – Hummingbird – Fast & Accurate?

Hummingbird was the name given to Google’s new search algorithm. It was not part of an existing algorithm or a minor algorithm update, but an entirely new algorithm that was unboxed and moved into place on August 20, 2013 (though it was not announced to the SEO community until September 26).

This was a major change to the way Google sorted through the information in its index. In fact, a change on this scale had probably not occurred for over a decade. Think of it this way. Panda and Penguin  were changes to parts of the old algorithm, whereas Hummingbird was a completely new algorithm, although it still used components of the old one.

Google algorithms are the mathematical equations used to determine the most relevant pages to return in the search results. The equation uses over 200 components, including things like PageRank and incoming links, to name just two.

Apparently, the name Hummingbird was chosen because of how fast and accurate these birds were. Although many webmasters disagreed, Google obviously thought at the time that this reflected its search results – fast and accurate. So to understand these changes and deliver effective strategies within a budget you need an affordable SEO company.


Google wanted to introduce a major update to the algorithm because of the evolution in the way people used Google to search for stuff. An example Google gave was in “conversation search”, whereby people could now speak into their mobile phone, tablet or even desktop browser to find information. To illustrate, let's say that you were interested in buying a Nexus 7 tablet. The old way of finding it online was to type something like this into the Google search box:

"Buy Nexus 7"

However, with the introduction of speech recognition, people have become a lot more descriptive in what they are searching for. Nowadays, it’s just as easy to dictate into your search browser something like:

“Where can I buy a Nexus 7 near here?”

The old Google could not cope too well with this search phrase, but the new Hummingbird was designed to do just that. The old Google would look for pages in the index that included some or all the words in the search phrase. A page that included the exact phrase would have the best chance of appearing at the top of Google. If no pages were found with the exact phrase, then Google would look for pages that included the important words from it, e.g. “where” “buy” and “Nexus 7”.

The idea behind Hummingbird was that it should be able to interpret what the searcher was really looking for. In the example above, they are clearly looking for somewhere near their current location to purchase a Nexus 7.

In other words, Hummingbird was supposed to determine searcher "intent" and return pages that best matched that intent, as opposed to best matching keywords in the search phrase. Hummingbird is still around today and tries to understand exactly what the searcher wants, rather than just considering the words used in the search term. Any good SEO company UK understands all of these changes and how they effect companies selling online.

On December 2013, there was a drop in the authorship and rich snippets displayed in the SERPs. This was a feature where Google displayed a photo of the author and/or other information next to the listing. However, Google tightened up its search criteria and removed these features from listings.

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