When users type in their queries to seek answers from Google, it surfs through the relevant database and delivers it to the users by using certain Google search engine algorithms.
Google algorithms are enacted to serve users with the best possible results for the queries asked.
Google runs through several rubrics and sorts web pages by ranking pages as per the search engine ranking system of Google algorithm.
It periodically alters its algorithm, which we call Google algorithm updates, and because of it, online marketers, SEO analysts, and content developers find it tough to trace and clasp Google algorithm patterns.
Initially, Google used to update its algorithm very rarely. But, due to the advent in the digital market and technological world, spammy contents by website owners were becoming predominant on web pages to increase their site rankings. It influenced Google to pad in or update thousands of Google algorithms to decamp such websites.
Why is Google Algorithm So Important?
Majority of updates are so small that they go unnoticed. However, at times, Google releases colossal algorithm updates which significantly impact the rankings of web pages by altering their ranks and often penalizing the sites which run against the policies of Google.
There is a definite necessity to learn about Google algorithm updates and their variations. You can get an insight into fluctuations in Google ranking and website’s organic traffic if you keenly analyze the Google algorithm updates.
This will help you rectify your SEO strategies and enhance your website’s Search Engine Optimization.
You ought to consider the tweaks and changes confirmed by Google depending upon their major and minor algorithm updates with regards to SEO.
It will help you track all minor and significant changes in the Google algorithm. However, we are going to show you the major updates in Google algorithm and depending upon this, you can alter your SEO strategies as per the ranking system.
Latest Google Algorithm Updates
Broad Core Algorithm Update
Typically, Google never announces the updates in the Google core algorithm, the reason being, and it updates the core algorithm almost every other day, sometimes twice a day.
This update is quite disparate. It isn’t like one of the typical Google updates.
This is the type of update that happens various times in a year. Google mentioned this update as Google’s Broad Core Algorithm Update.
The highlights of the broad core algorithm update
- It aimed to provide better results for the search queries
- It automatically down ranked sites even though it wasn’t the sites’ fault
- You could do nothing to ‘fix’ the sites to increase their rankings again
It was released on March 9th, 2018.
Google announced the update via Twitter on March 12th, 2018
Google also mentioned that the update was to assist pages which were under-rewarded but had great usage for the audience and encouraged such sites to continue to create quality content.
Maccabees is the update that wrangled people between 12th to 14th of December. There were considerable discussions in social media like Twitter, Facebook and SEO forums regarding the loss of 30 percent traffic from some websites.
If you happened to be an owner of such websites, then it’s safe to assume that you have been a victim of ‘Google Maccabees Update.’
Hundreds of websites have been hit by this update as reviewed and the culprit constraint responsible for it is the fact that these websites had multiple pages filled with huge keyword permutations.
The update was framed to catch the long-tail keywords used with permutations because search results prefer pages with long-tail keywords.
Majority of the sites hit by Maccabees are from e-commerce, affiliate websites, travel, and real estate sites.
For instance, a travel agency has multiple keywords, and a few of them that were flagged are as follows:
- Low-cost holiday package to Switzerland.
- Cheap Switzerland holiday package.
- Low-cost tickets to Switzerland.
Similarly, an affiliate website has multiple pages containing the following:
- Avoid mosquitoes at home.
- Get rid of mosquitoes.
- Wipeout mosquitoes.
- Wipeout mosquitoes fast.
You may guess why they were aiming for long-tail keywords and why SEO had such keen eyes for those keywords. Because, though they seem similar, all keywords are huge traffic drivers.
All updates, when updated in core algorithm don’t get a formal name. However, informally, in remembrance of Hanukkah and search community, Barry Schwartz of SERoundtable, called it ‘Maccabees.’
A Google spokesperson stated that the changes in the algorithm are meant to make the search results more relevant. The relevance may come from on-page of off-page content, or sometimes, both.
9 Major Google algorithm Changes History
Numerous surprises are seen whenever there’s an update in the Google. Some sites get very high ranking in regards to keywords. You might be shocked and dying to know why certain sites are getting good rank and some aren’t.
Below are the major algorithm updates with which Google shares a long history. Let’s check out the consequences of them:
Let’s find out what each of the updates was about and how to adjust.
What is Google Panda Update?
Google Panda update was released in February 2011, a change to Google’s search results in the ranking algorithm, which aimed to lower the rank of the website with thin or poor-quality content and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results.
The Panda search filter keeps updating from time to time, and the sites may escape the filtration if they make appropriate changes on their website.
Here’s a brief of its hazards and how you can adjust to Panda update:
Targets of Panda
- Plagiarized or thin content
- Duplicate content
- Keyword stuffing
- User-generated spam
Panda allocates quality scores to the pages based upon the content quality to rank the pages in SERP. Panda updates are more frequent, hence, the penalties and recoveries as well.
How to adapt
Keep regular track on web pages to check for plagiarized content and thin content or keyword stuffing. You can do that by using certain quality checking tools like Siteliner, Copyscape.
What is Google Penguin Update?
Google’s Penguin update was released in April 2012. It aimed to filter out the websites which are boosting the ranks in SERPs by spammy links, i.e. purchasing links or getting links from the sites whose sole motto was to sell the links to boost Google ranking.
Targets of Penguin
- Links with over-optimized text
- spammy links
- Irrelevant links
It works to down-rank the sites with manipulative links. It checks the quality of backlinks and degrades the sites with low-quality links.
How to adapt
Keep tracking your profile growth by the links and run regular checks on backlinks to audit the quality of the links. You can use certain tools like SEO SpyGlass to analyze your sites and eventually help you adapt to Penguin’s update.
What is Google Hummingbird Update?
It is considered to be the most significant algorithm update Google came out with since 2010. It was indexed to rank the pages for the queries instead of intending to search for the individual terms in the query.
While keywords still being vital, the Hummingbird helps a page to rank well even if the query doesn’t contain exact terms in the sentence.
Targets of Hummingbird
- Low-quality content
- Keyword stuffing
It helps Google to fetch the web pages as per the complete query asked by the user instead of the searching for individual terms in the query. However, it relies on the importance of keywords also while ranking a web page in the SERPs.
How to adapt
Check your content to increase the research on keywords and focus on conceptual queries. Equally, search for related queries, synonymic queries, and co-occurring words or terms.
You can easily get these ideas from the Google Autocomplete or the Google Related Searches.
What is Google Pigeon Update?
It is the Google update released on July 24, 2014, for the US and expanded to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia on December 22, 2014. It is aimed to enhance the rankings of local listings for a search query. The changes also affect the Google maps search results along with the regular Google search results.
Targets of Pigeon
- Perilous on page optimization
- Poor off-page optimization
Pigeon works to rank local results based on the user’s location. The update developed some ties between the traditional core algorithm and the local algorithm.
How to adapt
Put in hard efforts when it comes to off-page and on page-SEO. It is best to start off with some on-page SEO and later you can adopt the best off-page SEO techniques to rank top in Google SERPs.
One of the best ways to get yourself listed off-page is in the local listings.
What is Google Mobile-Friendly Update?
Google Mobile Friendly (aka Mobilegeddon) algorithm update launched on April 21, 2015. It was designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results while pages which are not mobile friendly or not optimized for mobile are filtered out from the SERPs.
Targets of Mobile update
- The poor mobile user interface
- Lack of mobile-optimized web page
Mobile update workflow
Google searches for mobile-friendly web pages related to search queries and rank the top results in the mobile search results while downranking or filtering the web pages that are not optimized for mobile.
How to adapt
Tweak the web design to provide better mobile usability and reduce the loading time. Google’s mobile-friendly test will help you to identify the changes to cope up with various versions of the mobile software.
What is Google RankBrain Update?
As reported by Bloomberg and Google, RankBrain is an algorithm update which is a machine learning artificial intelligence system launched to process the search engine results efficiently. It was launched on October 26th, 2015.
Target of RankBrain
- Poor user-interface
- Insubstantial content
- Irrelevant features on the web page
RankBrain is a machine learning system released to understand the meaning of the queries better and provide relevant content to the audience.
It is a part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. It ranks the web pages based on the query-specific features and relevancy of a website.
How to adapt
By making competitive analysis, optimize the webpage for comprehensiveness and content relevancy.
What is Google Possum Update?
Possum is the Google algorithm update released on September 1st, 2016. It is considered to be the most significant algorithm update after the Pigeon, 2014 update. The update focused on Google’s local search results for top ranking the web pages as per the queries.
Targets of Possum
- Tough Competition in your target location
The search results are provided depending on the searcher’s location. The closer you are to the business, you are more likely to see yourself at the top of the local search results. Fascinatingly, Possum also provided the results of well-known companies located outside the physical city area.
How to adapt
Increase your keywords list and do location-specific rank tracking. Local businesses should focus on more keywords because of volatility Possum brought into the SERPs.
What is Google Fred Update?
Fred is the latest Google algorithm update released on March 8, 2017.
Targets of Fred update
- Affiliate heavy-content
- Ad centered content or
- Thin content
This update targets the web pages violating the guidelines of Google webmaster. The primary web pages affected by this are blogs containing low-quality content and majorly targeting audience to make revenue by driving traffic.
How to adapt
Remove thin content by analyzing it through Google Search Quality Guidelines. If you’re allowing advertisements on your pages, make you sure they’re on the pages with high-quality and useful content for the users. Please don’t try to ruse Google into thinking that your page is high-quality content, when it is, instead, full of affiliate links.
Google strives every minute to provide quality results for its audience. As said, they emphasize to keep up the trust of their audience.
So, Google keeps developing new algorithms to provide relevant data and disavow the tricks and ruse adopted by certain websites to get high rank in SERPs.
The above-discussed points are the latest updates in the Google algorithm that have affected the SEO community.
Hope this post has leveraged your algorithm knowledge and help you audit, prevent and keep your site stay up afloat in Google search.
Have any of these updates hit your site ranking? If yes, what are the tactics you employed to reclaim? Do share your experiences in the comments down below to help others.