We all have become quite familiar with SEO and why it’s important for every business. Almost all clients want to achieve faster results without realizing the technicalities and importance of Google SEO updates. In this scenario, the most crucial thing that everyone needs to understand is – How SEO works?
The internet is full of information and considering its amount, finding the most relevant result for a searcher seems nearly impossible in the given time. That’s where sorting helps in identifying the most relevant ones. The most widely used search engine – Google works on a ranking system. It sorts out countless webpages in the Search Index to find the most useful link and present it in front of the searcher in a single click. Before moving ahead, let’s understand what makes these ranking systems work so profoundly?
The ranking system is known as a complete series of Google Algorithms. These algorithms consider certain key factors to determine the most relevant search page for the searcher’s query that includes the meaning of the query, webpages relevance, content quality, webpages usability, and context and settings. A search engine delivers the best possible results instantly by using a combination of algorithms in which Google makes numerous SEO updates every year. The majority of Google SEO updates sometimes go unnoticed, however, when Google introduces major SEO updates, the Search Engine Result Pages face significant impact.
We have compiled a complete list of Google algorithm updates along with the latest SEO updates that are going to be refreshing for many SEO experts and helpful for budding SEO professionals.
Introduced in 2011, Google SEO update Panda de-ranks the websites featuring low-quality content. The algorithm is designed to improve the quality of Google search by assigning a quality score to webpages. It de-ranks the webpages with low-quality content mainly the ones featuring plagiarised, user-generated spam, duplicates, or unnecessary keyword-stuffed content.
Initially, the effects of the Google algorithm update – Panda were mild. However, in 2016, the SEO update rolled out completely that made content the king of webpage optimization. The basic principle of Panda is to assign a quality score to each webpage to identify the high-quality website. The score is not assigned just once. It is significant to note that the score of the website gets updated every time the website changes or new content is added or removed.
To generate a high-quality score of your website, know the following steps of Panda:
To fight webspams, Google SEO update – Penguin had a massive impact on many websites. It was rolled out in 2012 and now a part of the core algorithm of Google. The update eliminates webspam and aims to optimize search results for users. Prior to this SEO update, the volume of links play a major role in determining the score of the website. Thus, Penguin was needed to overcome the increasing practice of manipulation of search results and ranking arising from black hat link building tactics.
The Google algorithm update was further introduced to control the number of techniques exploiting the loopholes of the website to make it rank better and faster than organic search. According to Google’s estimates, more than 3 percent of search results were affected initially with the launch of Penguin. Later in 2013, Penguin 2.0 i.e. the fourth SEO update affected approximately 2.3 percent of search results.
After the launch of multiple versions of Penguin, the update works concurrently with the core update of the search engine. It instantly evaluates the website's links and the SEO expert can see the impact of its link in real-time. Furthermore, the SEO update fights with different forms of webspam including – unnatural links, artificial linking, and quick link growth.
Unlike the previous Google algorithm updates - Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird is a completely new Google SEO update that affects the way search engine showcases the results. Launched in September 2013, the algorithm focuses on offering user intended results. It pays attention to the searcher’s query rather than considering the individual keywords in the query. It takes into consideration the whole meaning, conversation, or sentence that the user types in the search bar and aims to showcase the user the closest result possible.
Google is attempting to make its search engine a better and most useful platform for the searchers. Through the Hummingbird SEO update, it makes the search more intuitive by eliminating the useless and irrelevant links appearing on the search pages. According to the data, the Google SEO update affected 90% of the search queries on the search engine. Though it is not a penalty-based algorithm update, it just changes the way Google reacts to a query.
Considering the function of the SEO update, Hummingbird emphasizes long-tail keywords i.e. phrases. The use of long-tail keywords has become an important consideration for SEO experts to make sure the content on their webpages performs better to boost the website’s ranking. Thus, it becomes important to change the keyword strategy by focusing on conversational queries to boost the ranking.
The number of web searches happening on mobile devices is significantly increasing. Considering the growth in this trend, Google launched one of the most essential SEO updates known as Mobilegeddon. This update aims to de-rank the websites lacking in mobile version or poor mobile usability of the webpage/ website. Rolled out in 2015, the update boosts the website that works well on smartphones as well as other mobile devices.
Prior to the update, Google released a few bullets to inform the SEO experts about the way it is going to impact the websites:
Technically, it was a big step towards the cultural shift to promote mobile-friendliness of the websites. Being a user-centric company, the search engine constantly emphasizes improving user-experience whether on PCs or mobile devices. Thus, this update aligns the Google search engine with the changing user behavior and trends in the market.
Rolled out in October 2015, RankBrain is a component of the Hummingbird Google SEO update. The advent and adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence pushed Google towards coming up with this update. Since machine learning works with data inputs, the SEO update uses this technology to meet the most useful and nearest match of the search query.
As per Google, RankBrain is the third most significant factor in the ranking of websites. The update understands the meaning behind the searcher’s query and works responsibly to showcase customized Google search results. The intelligence aspect of RankBrain sets it apart from other SEO updates. It considers the larger context of the query including the synonyms, implied words, and personal search history to improve the search experience of the user.
Technically to make the RankBrain work properly, the search engine feeds the Google algorithm update a huge amount of data. RankBrain further analyses that data to determine the searcher’s intent and serve the most relevant results. These are based on a number of important factors such as the user’s search history, device, and location as well.
To make the website perform well, the SEO experts need to consider the following steps to make sure the webpages are up to the mark of RankBrain:
In 2018, Google rolled out another SEO update known as Medic that was initially referred to impact or target mainly the medical websites. However, after the initial rollout, the Google algorithm update started impacting the websites of other niches including finance, and education. The effect of this SEO update was massive that many websites are still struggling to recover from its impact in terms of regaining traffic and rankings.
In this regard, Google had also issued Search Quality Rating Guidelines that SEO professionals can refer to and tackle the SEO update. To ensure a deliberate recovery process, the professionals could follow three main steps – website analysis, identification of webpages for improvement, and development of an action plan to bring back the lost traffic and rankings.
Though there is no proven strategy to ensure recovery after the Medic update, SEO experts can implement the right techniques to regain organic traffic. The techniques include the following:
The main idea behind developing a robust strategy to recover from the medic update is to improve trust and link the website to more authoritative sites. Additionally, experts must create a strong content strategy to portray the website as the leader in that niche.
Rolled out in 2019, the BERT Google SEO update is one of the most crucial updates in the past five years. According to the estimates revealed by Google, it impacts 10% of the search queries mainly affecting the complicated search queries depending upon the context. Being a deep learning Google algorithm, the SEO update helps the search engine in understanding the meaning of the complete sentence and its context. It is directly associated with the analysis of search engine queries, not webpages. In this regard, on-page SEO plays a major role in using words with precision.
The Google algorithm update BERT uses natural processing technology to improve the search quality. According to Google - “the update handles tasks such as entity recognition, part of speech tagging, and question-answering among other natural language processes.”
With this SEO update, Google is rewarding the efforts of good content strategists and writers. The update impacts websites featuring poorly generated content with a lack of focus and context.
We all are aware of the fact that Google believes in constantly improving the search experience of the user. Each day, the search engine releases changes to improve the searcher’s overall experience. Most of them are not even noticeable but some of them are so significant that impact the existing performance of the websites. The bigger SEO updates that the search engine rolls out are known as the ‘core updates’.
The main intent of the core updates is to ensure that the search engine serves the most relevant, authentic, and authoritative content to the searcher. The effect of these SEO updates is so notable that results in a heavy drop or gain of organic traffic. It is also likely that the new Google core updates are the further improvements of the previous version of SEO updates.
The SEO experts can never predict Google’s plans to release core updates or any SEO update. Thus, to prevent the drop in the website’s performance or its organic traffic, they could follow the below steps to minimize its impact:
Google SEO updates are important in many aspects. Every time the search engine releases an SEO update, the website gets an opportunity to rank higher as it re-assesses the website’s performance for re-arranging the ranking. To improve the chances of ranking your website higher, it is imperative to keep the content fresh, original, free from plagiarism, and grammatical errors to secure a higher position on the search results page.