Complete Guide to Google SEO Algorithm Updates
From the outset of Google’s dominance inside the search engine market until today – when Google still accounts for roughly 78 percent of queries – the company has been attempting to improve its algorithm. Google will continue developing and adding new features as long as spammers & black hat SEO specialists continue to uncover vulnerabilities. So much so that Google adjusts and tweaks its algorithm daily to the point where no one outside its core staff knows what makes up the algorithm.
As a result, analyzing every minor update Google had made over the years would take days to write an overview. Who has the time for that? Instead, we’ve done the legwork for you and compiled a list of the essential modifications and a summary of what each means for you and your website. Let’s start with the Panda Update, the essential updates today
The Panda Update
The Google Panda Update was first issued in February 2011 and is updated regularly; thus, following the guidelines outlined here is critical for long-term SEO performance.
The Panda Update changed Google’s algorithm by adding a filter. The filter was so important to Google that it was formally added to the algorithm in January 2016. The Panda filter is responsible for removing websites with poor overall content from search results.Panda will look for duplicate material, thin content, and keyword stuffing, which means pages that pack target keywords into their text.
The Venice Update
Google’s algorithm was updated in Venice, enhancing search results for local inquiries. Until now, if a user wanted their query to return results based on their location, they had to include the relevant modifier to the search (eg. for restaurants in London, the search would need to include the word London). Google began utilizing a computer’s IP address and the user’s physical location to improve their results for searches with a local intent but have not been written out after the Venice update.
Since 2012, additional improvements are known as the Possum, and Pigeon Updates have been released to complement the Venice Update. These updates have zoomed in on results for your query closest to you coming up. Other changes were made to aid in the removal of new local spammers who’d already discovered flaws in the Venice update.
The Penguin Update
The Google Penguin Update first came in April 2012 and has been updated several times. Unlike Panda, this update is a real-time component of Google’s algorithm.
Penguin is a backlinks-focused piece of software. This was an update that had been long overdue since PageRank’s inception, and it has given many black hat SEO specialists a headache. The basis of this change is that any links that Penguin considers spammy or manipulative were given no additional value and will result in a penalty for the website. Previously, these links would have devalued a website in addition to penalizing it, but Google observed that anti-competitive sites are targeting manipulative links. Therefore, they were removed.
The Hummingbird Update
Unlike Panda and Penguin, this update focused on enhancing Google’s search results rather than finding and penalizing black hat practices. The goal was to understand users’ search intent better and present them with much more relevant answers. This entailed going beyond only matching on-page keywords to include latent semantic indexing, co-occurring terms, and synonyms in the results. More low-quality content was removed, and the results pages were filled with more relevant sites than ever before, thanks to an enhanced language processing algorithm.
The Mobile Update
This upgrade penalized websites that did not have a mobile-friendly version or even had poor mobile usability. When searching on a mobile phone, results having a mobile site were given higher importance, while sites without one were dropped to the bottom of the results pages.
The answer is as simple as the problem: create a mobile version of the website if you haven’t done so previously. Once your site is live, you can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to see if it is mobile-friendly and if it has any usability concerns. In July 2018, Google announced another update, stating that page speed will be an official ranking factor.
The RankBrain Update
In October 2015, RankBrain was introduced to supplement the Hummingbird algorithm. Although we don’t know how RankBrain works, we do know that it is the third most crucial component in ranking, according to Google.
RankBrain is a machine learning system that serves as a query processor to help Google interpret search queries better. RankBrain is thought to constantly record and store textual and verbal inquiries, then process them into possible intentions.
The Fred Update
The most recent Google update, dubbed Fred, was released in March 2017. Fred’s mission is to find websites breaking Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and issue a warning (sample below), followed by a penalty if the problem is not remedied. Although these restrictions were meant to avoid various techniques, the majority of sites that were tagged had content issues. These content difficulties might range from sparse content with an apparent upsell effort to pages wholly covered in adverts.