Full Screen

Search Engine Algorithms

More Free Lessons in

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) View All →

Get cutting-edge digital marketing skills, know-how and strategy

This micro lesson is from one of our globally recognized digital marketing courses.

Start a FREE Course Preview Start a FREE Course Preview
Global Authority

The Global Authority

12 years delivering excellence


245,000+ Members

Join a global community


Associate Certification

Globally recognised


Membership Included

Toolkits, content & more

Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What is a search engine algorithm?

As Google puts it, an algorithm is a computer program that looks for clues to give the searcher back exactly what they want. If we think about really search engines are actually looking at hundreds if not thousands and sometimes millions of results and they need to find out what the most useful results are for the user.

Google’s Hummingbird algorithm

When we think about the search engine algorithm to start with will just think about Google. And Google has a name for its overall algorithm, it’s called Hummingbird.


Within Hummingbird it has sub-algorithms:

  • PageRank: One of the first sub-algorithms that Google had was called PageRank. It really is to do with how reputable a page is, so if one page links to another page it will pass some reputation and we call that PageRank.
  • Panda: Panda’s job really is to work out what content is good quality and what content is weak or bad quality, we’ll talk a little bit more about Panda as we go through today’s module.
  • Penguin: It is kind of the opposite to Panda, but rather than looking for bad content it’s looking for bad backlinks. So when you build links to your website we call that a back link and Penguin’s job is to try and detect which ones are good and which ones are fake and again we’ll talk more about Penguin as we go through this module.
  • RankBrain: The most recent out of the sub-algorithms is one called RankBrain and this is Google’s way of really trying to understand what the intent is, behind a keyword or a key phrase and it actually uses artificial intelligence and machine learning.

So we’ve covered some of the sub-algorithms and we know that Hummingbird is the main algorithm.

Back to Top
Joe Williams

Managing Director and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise

  • Founder and SEO Trainer at Zen Optimise with 10 years’ experience in Search Engine Optimization
  • Zen Optimise is a London-based digital marketing training company
  • SEO consultant and trainer for hundreds of small, medium, and blue chip companies including Qantas Airlines, Sky, Eurostar, EasyCruise, and Anti-Slavery

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


SEO Workshop
Joe Williams
Skills Expert

This module covers the basic concepts that underpin SEO. It introduces methods for improving technical SEO and on-page optimization of a website. It explains how to plan and implement a strategic SEO campaign and also covers the best practices for successfully building and maintaining backlinks to a website.