Originally produced as a research project, Google has become one of the most valuable tools of today. If someone wants to know the answers to something or they need to find an item online, Google is the most likely place they will head. However, for those trying to run an online business or create websites, Google can be a lot more complex at times!
The rules that Google create can be the difference between a website ranking highly or falling in rank. Being alert of the latest changes and prepared for the next ones that are ahead is crucial for any online business.
What are Google Algorithms?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the way a website gets noticed and will determine how it ranks in search engine listings. An algorithm is a way of solving problems, and when SEO and algorithms meet, it creates rules and regulations as to how websites are found on the internet. Google Algorithms will follow set formulas that will determine how a web page is accepted and over the years there have been a number of changes made to these rules. An algorithm can determine a variety of factors, including what quality a web page is and whether it is spam, and it will also help users to find the best results for their search.
Key Changes Over the Years
Since its launch in 2000, there have been a number of key algorithm updates that have sent web designers into a frenzy as they try to accommodate for these. However, Google isn’t carrying out these updates to cause confusion; they’re doing them to improve the way their search engine works, which is why they’ve recently launched a mobile-friendly algorithm. Due to the rise in mobiles, search marketing needed to change because more people are carrying out research and purchases on their phones, requiring websites to have a site that’s optimized towards these devices.
Other key changes over the years have included:
Google Places in April 2010
With the rise in local search results, Google provided pages that were more closely linked to these types of searches, whereas originally they’d just been part of Google Maps. Several other features were also included in this update.
Social Signals in December 2010
In this advancement, Google and Bing started to use social signals to determine a website’s ranking with data derived from Facebook and Twitter.
Panda Update in February 2011
In order to provide better quality search results to their users, Google started penalizing any websites that were of poor quality. This has been updated several times since.
Google+ in June 2011
Aimed to directly rival Facebook, Google launched their feature Google+ and had 10 million users in just two weeks of it being live. They also integrated this feature with Gmail.
Penguin Update in April 2012
With keyword stuffing, spam link farming and other schemes on the rise, Google cracked down on these with this algorithm. Known as the “webspam update” it helped to tackle those websites that were using these types of schemes to try and get ahead of the game.
Pirate 2.0 in October 2014
To help tackle software and digital media piracy, Pirate 2.0 was launched.
AdWords Shake-Up in February 2016
Making significant changes to AdWords, Google altered how their paid searches were shown. Gone were the ads down the right-hand side of a user’s search results and a 4-ad block was given to commercial searches.
How Do You Know if Google is Launching Another Algorithm?
Unfortunately, Google isn’t overly forward when it comes to updating people as to what their next algorithms are going to be. Instead, many are left trying to establish exactly what the next one could be, basing their thoughts on current trends and demands.
For example, many predicted that mobile would start to play a bigger factor in how Google viewed websites, and that’s exactly what was introduced in their Mobile Friendly 2 algorithm which was launched in May 2016. Following on from Mobilegeddon in April 2015, this further added to the upgraded mobile search results they provided.
Planning for the unknown is almost impossible but with strategic thought and a careful watch over what the latest trends are, it can help you to remain ahead of the Google game. One thing is for sure, if Google does make any drastic changes in their next algorithms, your website needs to be able to react fast to retain those top ranking positions.
Sophie Morton is an SEO and marketing consultant, a career she has been in for several years since graduating. In her spare time Sophie enjoys reading crime novels and walking her dogs.