Google is constantly updating its algorithm to provide the best results for users on their search engine. These updates are typically called ‘Google Algorithm Updates’, and they happen several times a year.
Some of these updates can be as small as a change in how Google handles some URLs, which don’t really affect our day-to-day lives. Others can be as large as an entirely new update like Panda or Penguin that changes how every website on the internet is indexed and ranked for searches.
It’s essential to keep up with these updates, so you know what you’re doing right and wrong, plus it gives insight into what Google sees as necessary at any given time.
Google’s algorithm is a complex system that retrieves data from Google’s index and delivers immediate and most valuable results for a search query. The search engine ranks web pages based on relevance in its search engine results pages (SERPs).
What is an algorithm update?
An algorithm update is a periodic change in the algorithm used to rank a website in organic search results. The term “algorithm update” has historically been used by Google to describe the addition of a new ranking factor. However, many of these signals have increased their number of dials in recent years, which can be turned up and down, blurring the distinction between subtle updates and real updates. Google makes hundreds of small changes to its ranking algorithm each year, but few of them have any meaningful effect on natural search results.
Why does Google have algorithm updates?
Every algorithm update is designed to improve user experience and make it easier for searchers to find information. Google updates are all aimed at weeding out poor content and boosting content that fills this need.
How many times does Google update its search algorithms?
Google makes hundreds of updates to its algorithm each year. SEO Experts estimate that Google changes its search algorithm 500 to 600 times per year. That’s about once or twice per day. The updates don’t affect the SERPs most of the time, and website owners will not even notice. However, there have been a few times when Google has made changes that have affected ranking and traffic.
What is the best way to stay up to date on Google algorithm changes?
You can keep up with Google’s constant changes in several ways. You can do this by monitoring your site’s web traffic in your analytics platform and ranking for your target keywords. You can also go straight to Google’s website, which details the updates as they are rolled out. Visit Google’s blog for more information about their algorithm updates.
Notable Google Algorithm updates
Here are some of the most notable Google algorithm updates that you need to know about.
- Panda update– Google Panda was launched in February 2011 to eliminate black hat SEO and webspam tactics. Panda targets spam and weak content that does not benefit the end-user. Content that is thin, duplicated, or has excessive advertisements is penalized.
- Penguin update– The Penguin update or the “webspam algorithm update” was released a year after the Panda update, creating another push toward quality content. With this change, the backlinks of spam and manipulative link-building practices were targeted. As a result, a high-quality backlink profile is rewarded, while a low-quality backlink profile is penalized.
- Hummingbird update– The Hummingbird update made Google’s algorithm smarter at interpreting semantic search results. With it, Google was able to understand intent and context better when searching. This led marketers to shift their focus to longtail keywords. Also, marketers were encouraged to develop pieces more based on user intent and needs than a single keyword.
- Pigeon update– One of the most significant changes to Google’s search algorithm ever changed how local businesses rank in organic search results. With the Pigeon update, Google strived to offer businesses with a strong organic presence better visibility in traditional searches, similar to what local businesses may have already experienced with Google Maps.
- Mobile update– Google’s mobile-friendly update sparked significant changes to mobile search rankings and results, officially ushering in the mobile-first era. Mobile updates forced all sites to become mobile-friendly or be penalized. Rather than reserving mobile optimization for the most sought-after brands in the industry, every site needs a mobile-friendly version.
- Page Experience update– Google began officially counting user experience as a ranking factor. There are several factors that Google considers when judging how user-friendly a web page is. They include load time, Ads that could obstruct the user’s mission, and content moving around on the page as the site is loading.