Quick Insight

The most recent major update from Google came in December of 2020, known as the Core Web Vitals Update. This update focuses on page experience signals, providing businesses with a better understanding of their website’s user experience.

Understanding Google Algorithm Updates

Understanding Google Algorithm Updates is essential for any online business owner or website operator. This is because major changes to the way Google ranks results can have a significant impact on search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts and the amount of visibility that is given to any website featured in its results. There are many opinions surrounding the importance of algorithm updates and how they affect a website’s performance within Google’s index; some experts advocate that paying attention closely to all new developments can help improve SEO, while others suggest that staying up to date is not worth the time and effort.

On one hand, closely monitoring each update has been beneficial for many websites as it has enabled them to understand how different tweaks may influence their own strategies or campaigns. This can be especially true in certain competitive industries, where gaining an edge over competitors through minute differences in approach can truly prove an advantage. Additionally, regularly engaging with analytics on a deeper level than what is simply presented by applications such as Google Analytics can give webmasters a further insight into how their content and other factors are performing against algorithms – leading to continual improvement over time.

On the other hand, some believe that updating algorithms too often will lead to negative effects such as decreased visibility within organic searches and higher average click-through costs for businesses who rely heavily on advertising through platforms like AdSense. By frequently subjecting websites to revised checks of relevance, Google could end up invalidating strategies applied by SEO specialists designed to skew advantagously towards ranking algorithms. It should be noted however that whereas this argument appears reasonable on paper, substantial evidence to back it up has yet to be presented – perhaps suggesting that the potential effects of an algorithm update going wrong may in fact not be so severe after all.

Regardless of which view you personally choose to subscribe to, knowledge of algorithm updates and understanding how they work are key components of every successful modern digital marketing strategy; with this in mind let’s move on from here and delve deeper into what exactly constitutes an algorithm update from Google’s perspective.

What is an Algorithm Update?

An algorithm update is the process of adjusting and reconfiguring a search engine’s algorithms to modify its ranking system. This update can introduce new rules that must be employed by websites during their optimisation efforts or adjust rankings for sites on the same SERP. Algorithm updates are often met with scepticism from both website administrators and SEO specialists who aim to increase visibility and rank for their websites. On one hand, site owners must take a financial risk in adapting and optimising their websites according to Google’s requirements; however, some argue that an algorithm update can motivate companies to improve their content on a regular basis.

While there exists debate around the practical and financial implications of algorithm updates, there is no denying that they help Google prioritise high quality webpages and generate meaningful results in response to queries— regardless of their origin. Algorithm updates are necessary for Google to maintain its role as the top-ranking search engine provider, as most online users default to it when searching for information on the internet.

It is essential for any website administrator or SEO professional to stay informed about upcoming algorithm updates in order to mitigate any adverse impacts on website rankings, performance, and visibility. In this respect, knowledge helps website owners take preventative measures and make necessary adjustments before an algorithm update takes effect. With this in mind, let us now look more closely at the potential impact of a Google Algorithm Update on site visibility and performance.

What is the Impact of an Algorithm Update?

Google’s algorithm updates can have a significant impact on webpages that are affected by them. On the one hand, undergoing an algorithm update may improve a webpage’s ranking and increase its visibility on the internet. By understanding what Google looks for and optimising pages with more high-quality content, website owners can ensure that their websites meet the expectations of modern search engine algorithms. On the other hand, algorithm updates have the potential to reduce page rankings if they do not meet specific criteria set by Google. For example, if a website contains low-quality content or too many ads, it could be viewed as manipulative and therefore devalued in terms of its ranking position.

Although there is much debate surrounding the degree of effect each algorithm update has, the evidence suggests there can be considerable fluctuations in page rankings after an update is implemented by Google. It is important to recognise that an algorithm update should not be feared. As long as a website meets certain criteria set out by Google, an algorithm update should not negatively affect its ranking. Understanding how an algorithm functions allows businesses and individuals to focus their efforts on optimising their website for maximum usability.

Having examined what an algorithm update is, it is now important to explore some of the major updates released by Google over the years. To prepare for these major updates, website owners must understand how their website performs in comparison to others competing for similar keywords and phrases. This knowledge allows them to keep up with changes imposed by Google and make any necessary changes to optimise their website.

The Major Google Algorithm Updates

Google’s algorithm updates are constantly changing and evolving, leaving many companies feeling lost in their efforts to stay competitive. While Google’s main focus is to bring users the best search results possible, algorithm updates can have profound effects on any business that relies heavily on its online presence. It’s important to know the major algorithm updates if you want to remain visible and relevant within search engine results.

The most significant changes for SEO (search engine optimisation) professionals involve how search engines look at factors such as website design and content quality. Back in 2011, Google released an update called Panda which aimed to punish sites that were crammed with low-quality content or had too many ads. This update caused some websites to plummet down the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), while others suddenly saw a huge jump in their rankings. A similar update, Penguin, was released in 2012 and further emphasised the importance of keeping a website functional, fast-loading, and updated with unique content.

Since then, several other major algorithm updates have been pushed out including Hummingbird, Mobilegeddon, RankBrain and Possum. Depending on your industry and line of work, some of these might be more applicable than others. Understanding how each of these works is crucial for anyone looking to get ahead in the world of SEO – one wrong move could spell disaster for your business.

It’s also important to remember that not all algorithm changes have a negative result – some can actually be helpful to businesses. For instance, Google’s local packs are designed to display the most relevant local businesses when someone searches for certain terms near their area; if you’re listed in one of these packs it can be extremely beneficial for your business. Therefore understanding what drives each update and how they work together is essential if you want to excel at SEO.

Maintaining visibility requires close monitoring of how Google’s algorithms change and evolve over time. By understanding how these updates affect your website rankings and taking steps to adjust accordingly, you can ensure that your site remains successful now and into the future. Now let’s take a closer look at one specific algorithm update: Penguin – so we can better understand its implications for webmasters everywhere.

  • According to an analysis by Search Engine Journal, Google makes thousands of changes to its search algorithms each year.
  • Google released 3 core updates in 2020, with the most significant being the May 2020 Core Update.
  • A study by Searchmetrics found that the impact of the May 2020 Core Update on sites was far greater than previous updates, with an average drop of 8.4% traffic for affected websites.

Penguin Update

The Penguin algorithm update, released in 2012, was designed to decrease the rankings of websites that utilised manipulative linking practises. Additionally, this update worked to prevent websites with low-quality links from manipulating their way to higher rankings.Specifically, this update focused on penalising sites that contained too many keyword-focused anchor texts or link farms; if Google’s algorithm discovered a website using such tactics, they would be significantly lowered in the search engine results pages (SERPs) rankings. Furthermore, Penguin also gave greater emphasis to link quality and authenticity—key factors in today’s SEO landscape.

However, some argue that Penguin’s strict no-tolerance policy towards manipulative linking practises has led to an overly conservative approach where even legitimate linking practises are penalised; leading to websites with decent amounts of authoritative backlinks being unnecessarily punished by Google’s algorithm. Conversely, others maintain that this update only serves to block out those attempting to manipulate search engine rankings and ensures that those who practise healthy link building methods are rewarded for doing so.

In terms of tangible evidence, there have been multiple reports highlighting how websites that have invested heavily in strong link building strategies have seen improved SERP placements following Penguin releases. This is often attributed to tech and industry influencers taking the time to invest in backlinking activities which naturally elevate the position and authority of a website—in short, encouraging more organic/natural link growth.

It is clear then that while some people may debate its strict approach to tackling bad SEO tactics and manipulation, a significant number of companies have been successful by employing a long-term backlink strategy. Despite this however, it is essential that any new links built focus on quality because as Penguin illustrates, Google values them most—intentionally or not—and thus they will be rewarded accordingly. With all this in mind then it appears the future success of any website hinges on building strong & quality backlinks over those deemed shady or manipulative. As we move onto our next section then let us remember this fundamental truth about SEO: Quality always triumphs quantity when building backlinks for your website.

Hummingbird Algorithm

As we move away from discussing the implications of the Penguin Update, it is essential to become aware of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. This algorithm was released in 2013 and was designed to focus on the intent and context of a search query instead of keywords. The search engine would look at user’s conversations with virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana as a point of reference for how searches should be interpreted. This heavily impacted brands who developed specific back links campaigns to focus on certain target keywords as this had no longer become crucial for ranking success.

In regards to increasing your site’s visibility, good quality content that focused on being informative became significantly more important as Hummingbird aimed to serve users with helpful information when they were searching for something. As such, businesses must begin taking their online presence more seriously by ensuring all their webpages are up-to-date and meet the basic standards necessary for correct indexing and crawling by search engines algorithms.

By understanding how the Hummingbird algorithm works and its purpose, it becomes much clearer why you need to make sure your website is available and valuable to people who come onto it. While it is true that one needs to consider technical points in terms of SEO as well, having both optimised content and structured websites will always prevail in the jungle of rankings.

We have now established knowledge about two algorithms Google uses – the Penguin Update, which aimed to catch out website owners using shady tactics, and Hummingbird Algorithm which required visitors to have high quality content that is meaningful enough to answer common queries. Next, we will explore another algorithm update which has been making quite a buzz these days – Google’s Mobile Friendly Update.

Mobile Friendly Update

Following the revamped Hummingbird Algorithm, Google released yet another major update – Mobile Friendly Update. This update was implemented to give increased priority and improved rankings for websites that can be properly accessed via mobile phones. Because more and more people are using their phones as their primary device to access the internet, Google knew that it needed to prioritise mobile friendly sites.

Some SEO professionals have argued that the mobile friendly update has had little to no noticeable impact on rank, while others believe its implementation has significantly pushed up rankings of sites that have improved their loading speed and navigation on mobile devices. Certain surveys conducted have shown evidence in favour of the latter view; in one survey, over 50% of visitors claimed they would immediately leave a website if they felt it was too slow or poorly laid out on a phone. This goes to show how important it is for companies to have an optimised, responsive website if they intend to achieve better search engine rankings.

Though it may not always be easy or cost effective for businesses to adapt their website structure for different devices, the Mobile Friendly Update nonetheless serves as an important reminder for websites that mobile optimisation will likely become more essential with each algorithm update released by Google. As such, having a good understanding of how best to prepare for an upcoming algorithm change is vital in order to maximise search engine visibility and take full advantage of web traffic opportunities.

How to Prepare for an Algorithm Update

When preparing for an algorithm update, website owners should consider a few key steps to ensure their sites remain compliant. First, it is important to ensure that all web pages are up-to-date. All content should be fresh and relevant, as Google heavily penalises sites for having stale content or outdated information. Additionally, it is important to incentivize customer reviews and testimonials, as high ratings and reviews can boost search engine rankings.

Other factors such as link building practises, page load speeds, picture sizes and compression all need to be taken into account when prepping for an algorithm change. Owners can check the performance of their site using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or use audit tools such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider or KWFinder to identify any issues before the next Google update rolls out.

Following these preparatory tips will help guarantee success once an algorithm change takes place, but there may still be bumps in the road after a roll out. As such, it is important for website owners to have a plan for riding out the storm and maintaining their hard-earned rankings even when faced with unexpected changes from Google.

Strategies for Riding Out an Algorithm Update

When a new algorithm update is launched, the best way to prepare for it is to have strategies in place that will allow you to ride out the changes and maintain your rankings. Navigating an algorithm update can be stressful and overwhelming, but there are ways to soften the impact and come out ahead. There are two strategies that are particularly effective at riding out an algorithm update: anticipating and adapting, or standing still.

The first strategy is anticipating and adapting. When a new update is announced, anticipate how your website might be affected and proactively make changes accordingly. Research what keywords, topics, and content Google prefers with each algorithm update and tailor your website’s content accordingly. This strategy requires you to stay up-to-date on algorithm updates and constantly make adjustments so your website doesn’t lose its ranking due to changed rules or requirements. Additionally, make sure to carefully test any changes made to your content or website structure prior to making them live on your site since incorrect implementations can do more harm than good.

The second strategy is standing still. Take time to observe the effects that the new algorithm has on websites like yours before making any significant changes yourself. If all of the other sites in your niche appear relatively unchanged or better off as a result of the update then there’s a good chance that changes won’t be necessary for you either. Make sure to periodically check both your competitors’ ranking positions and your own personal metrics like page views, organic traffic, and overall engagement levels just in case the situation does change drastically at some point in time – chances are if it does, it won’t be for the better though!

Ultimately, it’s up to you decide which of these two strategies works best for you when navigating Google’s latest algorithm update. Both strategies have been proven effective by others who have successfully ridden out previous updates with minimal disruption to their ranking positions in search results pages – however, no one knows what will happen with future updates until they actually occur so it’s best to be prepared regardless of which direction you take!

Last Updated on April 15, 2024

E-commerce SEO expert, with over 10 years of full-time experience analyzing and fixing online shopping websites. Hands-on experience with Shopify, WordPress, Opencart, Magento, and other CMS.
Need SEO help? Email me for more info, at info@matt-jackson.com