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First came Boston, then Cassandra, Dominic, Esmeralda, Fritz, Florida, Bourbon, Big Daddy, Buffy, Vince, Caffeine, Panda, and finally Penguin. These are all the names of updates to the Google algorithm which helps to determine its SERP (a.k.a. search engine results page) listings. Few if anybody outside of those of us in the SEO world knew or cared about these updates but perhaps more people should’ve because they’re all attempts by Google to improve how we access information in our ultra-connected 21st century world.

Google’s Vision For SERPs
When Google started back in the fall of 1998, cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a vision of sorts to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, or so they say. Hyperbole aside, what was truly astounding was not there vision but rather there practice of making Google the first search engine that would use links to determine how well a given website ranks in its SERPs rather than relying on the older method of on-page criteria such as meta-tags, body text, headlines, etc. In the late 1990s, this was somewhat ‘revolutionary’ but 14 years later, it’s standard operating procedure among all the search engines.

“SERP-BRIN-Time Sergey; SERP-BRIN-Time”
As someone who’s had his nose to the grindstone since the beginning of the Web, I can personally attest to the vast improvement in the results search engines are returning these days and Google is the main reason for this. Why? Because, WWW stands for World Wide Web so Google took the decidedly ‘revolutionary’ stance that since the World Wide Web is an interlinking network of websites, these websites should be organized in the SERPs based upon how many quality websites linked to it. At the time, this represented a ‘revolution’ of sorts in search engine technology.

What’s In a Name
Which brings us back to why Google updates have names; because they’re that important enough as to get a name. And the latest update, called Penguin, is no less important than its predecessors because it seeks to reduce the amount of spammy websites that turn up when someone ‘Googles’ which has the effect of forcing webmasters to spend less time on optimization tricks and more time on creating unique and interesting content on their websites if they want to rank well in Google SERPs.

How utterly revolutionary. George Washington would’ve been proud.