Google’s Algorithm Updates of the Decade

SEO is all about getting noticed online so that whatever you are selling – be it content, products or services – can be noticed so that you make your profits (whether monetary or recognition). Every SEO tactic and strategy has been developed around one thing, how search engines work. And the thing that determines how they work is their algorithm. SEO specialists are always updated on the latest algorithm changes of search engines to determine their best next moves in making websites get the rankings they need online.

That’s why it is important to understand search engine algorithms. They are the cheat sheet for what you should do and what you should not do to attain the rankings you need for your website. Let’s go down memory lane and have a look at some of the major Google Algorithm updates. If there’s one thing you should learn from this article, let it be the reason these updates were made or introduced because understanding that is what will help you develop SEO strategies and tactics that will get you the traffic you want.

2011 – Panda

The Panda algorithm update had the sole purpose of down-ranking sites with low-quality content. This update proved to be so important that it is an integral part of Google’s core algorithm. It is very much alive and active even today. The thing you should pick from this is that content quality is crucial. Therefore, ensure that your sites are updated regularly with unique and relevant content.

2012 – Penguin

This update was launched with one main goal, to down-rank websites with links that seemed manipulative. In other words, this update was meant to fight spam and to keep websites that meant to take advantage of people or to mislead people as far away from the top search rankings as possible. The Penguin update is also very active today in Google’s core algorithm. Manipulative and malicious websites will always be an issue online and that’s why this update is not going anywhere soon.

2012 – Exact Match Domain update

Back in the days, there used to be exact match domains that also happened to be low-quality websites with barely any useful content. This update was introduced to target such domains and separate them from the domains that had sites with more relevant and high-quality content.

2012 – Pirate

Again, back then, people would do a lot of copying and pasting when it came to website content. I mean, you would visit different websites and have dejavu. Compared to today’s enterprise SEO strategies and tactics, it was a funny tactic, really. Anyway, this piracy thing was not fair to the original content creators and Google had to do something about it. The Pirate update was released to contain this unbecoming behavior. I believe you know better than to “hijack” someone else’s content and present it as your own.

2013 – The famous RankBrain & Hummingbird

If you have been paying attention technologically, we are heading toward a world run by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Part of Google’s move to attain this goal was its RankBrain and Hummingbird algorithms, which were introduced to monitor and understand search intent.

The Hummingbird algorithm tackles the comprehension of long, conversational search queries and offers search results that echo search intent. RankBrain, on the other hand, assists Google to process and give results for unique, unfamiliar, and original queries to users, according to previous and historical behavior.

2014 – Pigeon & Possum

Nowadays, Google delivers search results based on local relevance first and this is the work of the Pigeon and Possum algorithm updates. The two updates were introduced to enhance the quality of local search queries, and provide results that prioritized local relevance. Distance and location became important in search results ranking. Furthermore, local directory sites gained significantly form these updates.

2015 – Mobile-first Indexing/ Mobile Friendly Update

This update may be referred to as Mobilegeddon elsewhere, but it was developed to check how mobile-friendly web pages were. Today, it is essential that every website is mobile friendly where applicable. Google has been monitoring how people access websites and determined that most people accessed them using mobile devices. It is from this realization that this update was introduced. It means websites that are mobile friendly are given priority in search results. If yours is not mobile friendly, don’t be alarmed why it is not showing up where you prefer it did.

2018 – Broad Core Update

This update targets websites with quality content but that were previously under-ranked. Not all sites with good content get the rankings they deserve and it is a challenge to have everyone on the first SERP. The main goal of the Broad Core Update is to let webmasters realize that Google is always doing its best to ensure that websites with high-quality content get the rankings they deserve and to encourage them to keep up the good work.

2018 – Page Speed Update

Web pages need to load fast for users to have a good experience on your website. This update targets the page load speed for websites on mobile devices. The sites with the fasted page load speeds are given priority in search results.

The purpose of this article is not to just let you know about Google’s algorithm updates but to help you understand why the updates are important to know. They help you know what Google is doing, what it is looking for so that you can come up with SEO strategies that fulfill Google’s demands. Yes, you have to suck up to Google for it to rank your website favorably.

If you have any questions, please ask below!