If you have begun reading, you are probably wondering what are Google Algorithm updates and why are they important to your business.
The Google Algorithm system retracts data from search indexes and delivers the best results for a query. Using carefully drafted algorithms and ranking signals, the search engine delivers relevance-based ranked webpages on SERPs.
With the advancement of Google and its reign in the browsing arena, the mammoth firm has made it a point to consistently update its algorithms. Often, this leads to almost a thousand Google Algorithm updates in a year.
Many of such algorithms may be minor and negligible. However, some of the major algorithmic changes of the company has led to influencing search rankings considerably.
Here is where, as a digital marketer, you need to be aware of such updates.
Why are Google Algorithm Updates
These updates act as important ranking factors for your business.
Such updates play a vital role in making or breaking your business because, without their knowledge, you cannot possibly draft a smart SEO digital marketing campaign. Otherwise, your active SEO campaign might not reap fruits.
Here are six of the major Google Algorithm updates that created significant impact upon their activation.
1. Google Panda
This 2011 algorithm update was aimed to lower the ranks of low-quality websites and pages referred to as ‘thin sites’ and ‘content farms’. The Panda update from Google sought out to bring forth higher-quality search results.
- Launched: February 24, 2011
- Rollouts: Monthly
- Purpose: This update ensured that thin content or low-quality and spam-filled websites were ranked lower.
- How it works: Google’s Panda Algorithm update sought out to assign scores on content quality to webpages. These ‘scores’ set by the update on webpages determined their quality and ultimately their rankings on SERPs.
What began as a mild update came onto become fully activated in January 2016. Panda became permanently incorporated into Google’s fundamental algorithm.
Since Panda began to refine webpages and rank them efficiently, its rollouts became more recurrent.
How to adjust to Panda?
If you are a marketer struggling to make sense of this update, there are ways in which you can swim with the tide.
- Start with running regular site checks for thin content, repetitive and spam content on your website. Pull out any form of content duplication and update keywords thoroughly.
- You will require a site crawler for this purpose. Our suggestion is SEO PowerSuite’s Website Auditor.
- Avoiding penalty and creating content-rich pages become easier with tools like Website Auditor.
- An additional suggestion would be to be aware of your competitors’ SEO updates and rankings. Using a digital marketing agency or a site crawler tool for this purpose is also suggested.
Do not forget to re-confirm that the content on your website is plagiarism-free. Multiple tools like Small SEO Tools can do the job for free.
2. Google Penguin
The Google Penguin algorithm update of 2012 aimed at decreasing the rankings of those websites which violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This update differentiated between black-hat SEO and white-hat SEO techniques and picked out the websites that artificially tried to get better rankings.
- Launched: April 24, 2012
- Rollouts: (Twice each year) 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016; real-time
- Purpose: This update de-ranks sites with spam-filled, manipulative link profiles and/or links with over-optimized anchor texts.
- How it works: Seemingly ‘unnatural’ backlinks are frowned upon by Google. This is precisely what the Penguin update of Google does. It ended low-effort link building and manipulative link tactics. This means you cannot buy links from link farms for the sake of it.
Although it was rolled out once or twice each year till 2016, Penguin became part of Google’s core algorithm soon after. This update applies penalties faster now, being implemented in real-time.
How to adjust to Penguin?
- It is obvious that Penguin has grown into one of the most prominent of Google Algorithm updates. You cannot expect your business to prosper if you cannot conform to the demands of this algorithm.
- Consistently monitor your link profile’s growth and analytics, for a start. Analyse the progress graphs of your link’s growth. If you find links with more than 50% of the risk, do not fail to investigate further.
- Use Backlink Checkers like Ahref’s Free Backlink Checker to run regular audits.
- Be aware of possible negative SEO attacks from competitors.
If you find a malicious link profile, disavow the file, download it and upload it to Google’s Disavow Links Tool.
3. Google Hummingbird
The Google Hummingbird algorithm of 2013 aspired to put better emphasis on natural language queries. That is, Google had begun to prioritize the context and meaning of queries over individual keywords. This algorithm examined all pages of a website to lead users into the most appropriate page upon searching.
- Launched: August 22, 2013
- Purpose: This update aspired to produce more relevant and updated search results to users by reading keywords as well as query intentions better.
- How it works: The Hummingbird algorithm interprets the search queries entered on to Google better and seeks to provide results that match the searcher intent. The goal of this update is to deliver the best results to users for queries, irrespective of keywords.
The natural language processing which works on latent semantic indexing, co-occurring words and synonyms is the basis of this algorithm.
How to adjust to Hummingbird?
- Expand your keyword research and try to read them better. By analysing related searches, synonyms and terms that recur, you will understand queries better.
- Explore Google Related Searches as well as Google Related Questions.
- Research on Google Autocomplete suggestions.
- Use tools that will bring you closer to users’ language to diversify your content into gaining better rankings. Ensure that satisfying the searcher intent is the key.
Mobilegeddon is Google’s attempt at making the smartphone experience better for users. This mobile-specific update sought to prioritize websites with a mobile-friendly interface as results for users browsing through such devices exclusively.
- Launched: April 21, 2015
- Rollouts: 2015, 2018, 2020
- Purpose: This update seeks to provide more mobile-friendly pages upon searching. In turn, sites that have a mobile-friendly interface get better rankings in mobile SERPs. This update also de-ranks those pages which aren’t optimized for mobile.
- How it works: The three different mobile search updates have prioritized the smartphone experience to a desktop. This update has begun to rate pages according to their speed and user-friendliness.
This update is a vital one in the surge of technological advancement of the 21st era.
How to adjust to Mobilegeddon?
- The solution is simple; to optimize the pages on your website to be mobile-friendly. Try to improve the site’s speed and nurture its usability.
- Take a look at the yardsticks Google has put forth as page speed and mobile-friendly tests to understand what changes you need to make.
- Run a free page analysis on its mobile-friendliness using the tests on WebSite Auditor.
5. Google Fred
The Google Fred update focuses on the quality of websites and is an amalgamation of various other such updates. This had a big impact on Google rankings of websites after its initiation in 2017. This update targets black-hat tactics that work solely for monetization.
- Launched: March 8, 2017
- Purpose: The Fred update from Google ensures that low-quality search results are disposed of. The reason for this update was to generate ad and affiliate revenue.
- How it works: Initially Google only revealed that Fred update targets only those pages that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. Better research proved that content sites with an underwhelming quality of content on a variety of topics created to generate ads have been affected by Fred.
Fred bans low quality content created for promotional purpose. Thin, affiliate-heavy content on your websites would be affected by this Algorithm update. The function of similar Google Algorithm updates is to ensure that the search engine does not leave any stone unturned concerning quality.
How to adjust to Fred?
Adjusting to any of these updates is a hectic task and requires expertise and time. If you find such tasks tedious, do not hesitate to hire agencies or professionals who can assist you to pick out just the right tool for such analyses.
- Take a detailed look at Google’s Webmaster guidelines. This ensures that you remove the content that does not satisfy these yardsticks.
- Thin content is never advisable. Get rid of it!
- Make use of SEO PowerSuite’s WebSite Auditor again and look for the Word Count column. Differentiate content on their length as well as quality. Use features like Content Analysis to have your pages analysed.
- Keep a steady eye out for your competitors’ pages and content length.
This is a Machine Learning-based search engine algorithm that processes search results to rank the best ones on top. It consists of about 200 different ranking factors that work as yardsticks for pages.
- Launched: October 26, 2015
- Purpose: The RankBrain update from Google used Machine Learning to deliver the best possible results on SERPs.
- How it works: RankBrain customizes users’ Google search results. Like Hummingbird, this update too took into context synonyms, implied words and personal search history.
RankBrain is a threat to content without query-specific relevance; that is, shallow content. This update was part of the Hummingbird update.
How to adjust to RankBrain?
Ways to conform to RankBrain’s guidelines aren’t altogether different from those expected by Hummingbird.
- Similar to the amendments you will have to make for Hummingbird update, you need to curate your content for better optimization to suit to RankBrain.
- Use competitive analysis with the help of TF-IDF tool that is provided by WebSite Auditor. Using this feature, you can discover the long list of relevant terms and concepts that are familiar to your mammoth competitors. You can use these terms to your content.
- Dedicate your time to maximize user experience. Look out for the user experience factors in Google Analytics like Bounce Rate and Session Duration.
- Examine those pages on your website that have better engagement metrics. Use these factors in crafting other pages and editing them here on.
The above 6 Google Algorithm updates have changed the horoscope of SEO marketing in the past decade. However, these are not all. Multiple other such updates have changed the SEO game for the better.
To be aware of these Google Algorithm updates and to pocket some survival hacks in this arena would highly benefit your business online. The tools we have discussed here are ones whose workings can be uncovered using appropriate SEO tools.
Make sure that you do your own research if you want to find out more about such Google Algorithm updates.
If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer them. Don’t hesitate to comment down below.
Watch out for those updates!