Google Algorithm Updates
There are millions of pages and articles cataloged in Google’s search engine—they’re live and ready at your fingertips to be browsed and learned from—but like every library containing a wealth of information, there needs to be a system in place to make it easier for the user to find the right item as fast as possible.
As such, Google has to weigh up which sites are the most relevant to the user’s specific search request. These days, this is especially important because virtually anyone can create a website about any topic. Needless to say, Google doesn’t want users to stumble across sites that fail to supply useful or related content as their first port of call.
So, how does Google handle this? The answer: Via its search algorithm.
How Does the Google Algorithm Work?
To put it simply, Google’s algorithm is a set of rules that automatically evaluate and compare the relevance of each website to a user’s search. To do this, it takes in information about the searcher, the creator, and the website’s content.
What Factors Does Gooogle’s Algorithm Consider?
Some of the things Google looks out for include:
- The words used in the search
- The relevance of the webpages
- The quality of user experience supplied by the website
- The EAT (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) of the source
- The user’s location
- The user’s settings and search histories
The algorithm also tries to factor in the context of the search. For example, for a search relating to news items, more recent content will rank higher than older pieces. On the other hand, dictionary definitions don’t necessarily need to be published recently to be relevant—which makes sense, right?
Why Does Google Update Its Algorithm? What Does This Mean for Us?
Google has to process over seven billion searches per day and 15% of these searches have never been queried before. By the middle of 2019, the web boasted over 5.2 billion ever-changing pages so as you can imagine, Google always has new information to process and more new questions to answer.
It’s a never-ending task, and therefore, the staff at Google have to update and fine-tune the algorithm as they get to grips with what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. In addition, part of the algorithm is also left to machine learning so the algorithm itself is always evolving and adapting without as much need for humans to interfere.
The Impact of Google Algorithm Updates
In the end, these changes have the user’s best experience in mind. But, this sometimes means that website creators find themselves surprised when their content doesn’t rank as highly as it used to. Or, conversely, out of nowhere, a site might suddenly gain a lot of traction because it just got recognized by the algorithm. Creators can be at the whim of the algorithm and find their growth swayed either way by it.
Several times a year, Google also releases a broader core algorithm update. This is usually the cause of the more considerable changes and, as such, makes the most difference to content creators.
Examples of Algorithm Updates
When a very distinct or purposeful change to the algorithm comes along, Google names the update and releases information about it. Here’s a list of some of the updates Google’s issued in the past:
- Google Panda (2011): This aimed to target content farms and spammy websites with too many ads, rating them less relevant for the majority of user searches.
- Google Venice (2012): This helped to prioritize local results for local searches.
- Google Penguin (2012): This was a significant update that tried to prioritize good quality content over web pages stuffed with keywords.
- Mobilegeddon (2015): This saw an increased priority for mobile-friendly sites.
- Medic Core Update (2018): This made a push against so-called “your-money-or-your-life-sites” giving scam medical advice. This was part of Google’s ongoing goal to prioritize the trustworthiness of their indexed pages.
Algorithm updates are (sometimes) understandably frustrating for content creators. Still, it’s vital to keep in mind Google’s overall goal is to create a more user-friendly and safe way to browse the net.
The theory being, as Google’s algorithm keeps improving, this encourages higher-quality websites to produce trustworthy content. This ensures worthier webpages rise to the top of the pile, which obviously benefits diligent content creators and enhances the overall user experience.
There’s no real way to escape algorithm changes. As such, you might see a loss or gain in website traffic because of them. But, in the long term, this shouldn’t stop you from succeeding, providing that you’re dedicated to creating and establishing an authoritative online resource for your industry.
The key takeaway here is that you should keep creating high-quality and relevant content and brace yourself for the changing tides of Google’s algorithm.