Google algorithm: the 7 most important updates for your SEO
Which are the major Google updates that have impacted SEO over the last decade? Here are the most important Google algorithm updates every entrepreneur should know.
Algorithm Updates & SEO
When I started to dive into web marketing, I was lost.
First, I had to understand the four-part of SEO and how they are intricate one with another. Figuring out what roles technical, content, and on/off page plays has been a cornerstone of my learning process with web optimization and Google algorithm updates.
Secondly, I was confused by the number of agencies on the market that only addressed a single aspect of it. At the same time, it was increasingly evident to me that these four aspects were interdependent from one to another; I had to comprehend the dynamic of this niche market for my company to be successful.
Most of my interactions with experts and agencies resulted in having them offering to generate backlinks for us, leaving the technical, content and on-page aspects not addressed.
To match my goals, I had to level up. And seizing Google mission was the first step to achieve the results I wanted for the brand.
What’s essential to get there is that off-page is only a part of what you can do to help your website rank high in search results. Google bots scan page by page, and you must set up and endorse your website visibility strategy. Comprehend the algorithm dynamic is one of the top skills to develop for every entrepreneur.
Why it is crucial to apprehend Google algorithm updates?
Backlinks are not the only factor to get your website on the first page for your chosen keywords. Google mission is to organize world information in a way that is easy and accessible for its users.
A website that is putting its clients first has more chances to rank higher. The better we know the function of the search engine, the easier it becomes to plan and act accordingly.
In this article, I wish to present the most important Google algorithm updates for you to manage your website well. You don’t need to be a marketing guru to start. Google continuously ameliorate its algorithm to provide top-quality service to its users. Some updates are minor, while others impact profoundly how we work. These significant changes are the ones you need to be aware of.
Most of the time, in the case of well-managed SEO, your website will be slightly impacted by important algorithm updates, and the ranking can vary.
That said, we can move on to Google algorithm updates. Which are the core Google algorithm updates and what impact did they had on search engine optimization over the last 10 years?
Panda – 2011: When quality matters
The first core google algorithm update is Panda. This update focus on content quality by assigning” “quality score” to web pages. This significant change into ranking factor was integrated fully into the core algorithm in 2016. Since then, every time bots scroll your website, the” “quality score” elements the ranking of the pages.
Panda will mostly penalize duplicate and/or light content and keyword stuffing.
It is relatively easy to adopt a holistic strategy and regulars check up on your ranking. Since 2011, most web admins and marketers know the importance of unique creative material. However, be on the lookout for duplicate pages and text if you collaborate with an external provider for topic production.
Because google scan websites regularly, it does not take long to adjust and recover from a potential Panda penalty.
When creating or updating, a simple test with the tool of your choice for keywords density and plagiarism percentage will help before publishing.
Penguin – 2012: Zoom on backlinks
Penguin makes a significant change in backlinks type and quality. The goal is to limit brands using spammy and unnatural backlinks. Not all links have the same value, and landing pages that have been previously ranking high with low-quality links have zero chance to score with Penguin.
Online tools such as Ahref free backlink checker can give you a detailed list of your backlinks.
What you need to be careful of is a potential sudden change in ranking or penalty risks. While most marketing agencies will refuse to practice negative SEO on your competitors; this practice exists. It’s essential to be aware of potential attempts to damage your online reputation from others and monitor your website regularly.
To prevent this, you can isolate the links you suspect to be spam or natural links, which may negatively impact your rankings.
When you position yourself in a field, some links happen naturally because other webmasters will connect their pages to yours. Agencies and PR businesses help to speed up the process, but they cannot create value for you if there is nothing to talk about.
Hummingbird – 2013: Makes keywords matters less than meaning
With hummingbird, Google algorithm updates are going one step further toward qualitative content. Since 2013, your text doesn’t need to have the perfect number of targeted keywords to rank for a specific topic. It means that with its algorithm, Google understands better what’s the page is all about and succeed better to match user search goal. Keywords still matter a lot, but they are not the only piece to take into consideration anymore. It helped the flow of language on blogs and webpages and did release a lot of pressure on bloggers and professional web writers.
Not only that, hummingbird helped to valorize talented writers productions by being able to focus on the concept talked about instead of specific words only.
Most creators produce with the customer persona in mind instead of specific keywords. Indeed, you write for your audience and not for the search engine bots.
I use a keyword density checker to evaluate each piece before I publish it. It’s really helpful to adjust and optimize web pages. Another essential tool I use to ensure text greatness is to test the readability of my work using a readability tool. At the end of the day, you want people to engage with your text, to enjoy reading it and benefit them. I feel that reaching that goal is priceless.
Mobile – 2015: Speed on all devices
Is your website fast and user friendly on mobiles? With most millennials surfing the web on mobile phones, having a mobile-friendly web pages is not only an option but a necessity. For one of the brands I deal with, 80% of their users interact with it using a mobile device. Speed and usability on mobile are essential for their success.
Speed, usability is in the spotlight of this significant change in the algorithm. How fast the mobile version of your website is impacting your ranking significantly. In other words, since the mobile google algorithm update went on, having a robust mobile version of your site has become a must-have.
You don’t always need to have a mobile version of your website to match this updated requirement. Besides, your users might not be millennials, and the importance of this crucial factor depends highly on who your clients are and what your competitors are doing.
RankBrain – 2015: Machine learning
Part of the Hummingbird algorithm, RankBrain is a machine learning program that includes several factors to display the best possible result for each user. RankBrain focuses on the meaning of the query and has become the third most important ranking factor. It ponders the context of the query, which accounts for synonyms of keywords, concepts, and the user search history.
RankBrain is one more step toward rewarding qualitative content for Google. To optimize for RankBrain, a skilled writer or optimization expert must concentrate on creating qualitative texts that not only include targeted keywords in titles but also synonyms that will match with the search engine user previous searches.
In other words, the better you know what your audience is talking about in the digital space, the more you can create editorial pieces in line with their interest queries. Therefore, it increases your website chances to rank higher for specific searches, drive traffic, and, sales.
In making their users overall experience better overtime by harnessing AI capacities, Rank Brain reward marketing and sales department that have gone the extra mile for their customers.
Medic – 2018: When PR becomes an SEO factor
It is still unclear what is really inside the Medic update. It undoubtedly impacted mostly medical and other professional related to expert services such as financial, educational, and legal businesses. YMYL” “Your Money or Your Life” websites have indeed been deeply impacted.
The ETA factor has become more critical: Expert, Authoritative and Trustworthy sites rank higher.
It’s good to know that your domain authority rate factors your expertise, the authority in your field, and the trust people can have in you. Backlinks, guest blogging, interview and all the range of PR are strong indicators of expert authority in its field.
The medic update isn’t a massive surprise in the communication field. PR exists long before the internet era. Marketing and communication agencies at core help their customers to gain visibility, and PR is one of the tools at play. Google is simply rewarding the companies that interact in their field and add value to their space and other people’s lives.
To harness the best of medic updates, it matters to focus on the impact of your publications. It’s a technic that is intensive and extensive at the same time. It would be rewarding for you to publish a qualitative practical guide of your expertise a year if this generated momentum that last. The goal is to extend your knowledge or add value to others outside of your web pages.
Nowadays, most PR agencies have completely integrated backlinks when interacting with journalists and bloggers. PR and SEO work together to produce great results and build authority online for personal and professional brands. I am personally fascinated by how we connect both and how intricate the strategies are with each other’s.
Bert – 2019: Content Apotheosis
Bert is another google algorithm update that uses AI to analyses better search queries. It is the last update that concludes the efforts started on content with Panda, Hummingbird and RankBrain.
Google is taking a step further with natural language processing technology to interpret the text. This involves getting help or levelling up in writing material to get your company on the first page. Bert is a relief for writers and all the people who concentrate on excellence.
Google mission is to deliver the best search results to its users. When you create with your user in mind, there is no reason you could not align with the search engine purpose. Your website is the bridge between you and your customers. It should be usable, findable, accessible, enjoyable, and qualitative for the audience you aim to reach. When you create with that intent in mind, there are many chances that your SEO will be great.
I am doing SEO myself; what to focus on?
I am doing SEO myself for a couple of sites, including mine. My asset is to create long-lasting content strategies focussed on quality. I am not an expert, but it’s working because I have the necessary overview of what needs to be done. I call on dedicated experts for the technical part of each site, and they help me run technical audits and fix what’s need to be done.
Outside of that, my best takeaway advice on doing it yourself is a well-rounded architecture and a deep understanding of what the customer need. If your content is correct, well organize and make sense for your users, it will generate results. Besides avoiding major UX mistakes, your internet site is likely to do better than your colleagues if you focus on your niche and partner with guests and gain links from people in your space.
I believe that quality speaks for itself, and it has proven right over the years for me. Indeed, it doesn’t matter to get the best backlinks or the most fantastic web designer if your content doesn’t add value to your audience. A great example is Quora or Reddit, which are pretty simple designs but score incredibly high domain authority.
In short, please do not overdo it. It’s great to have a broad understanding of what google needs and look at. However, in the long run, qualitative content and being customer-centric always win the game.