A Google algorithm update, or Google update, refers to the changes made by Google to their search algorithm in order to improve the quality, relevance, and overall user experience of its search results. The Search Engines evaluate every page of your website in order to decide how to rank it for certain search terms. As part of this process, they look at content that you have published on your website and other sources that are available online, such as social media websites like Facebook or Twitter along with dozens of other factors. This way they can get an idea of what content to show to users searching for information and figure out which websites provide the best content and experience for that search term.
What is a Google Algorithm Update?
Google is constantly tweaking its search algorithm to improve search quality. You might be familiar with these changes through popular terms like Panda, Penguin, or Pigeon. Each update targets specific tactics used by SEOs to rank websites in search results. Google wants to reward high-quality content while limiting spammy content - it updates its algorithm regularly in order to identify low-quality websites and push them out of top results. Understanding how these changes work is important when trying to grow your website's traffic or bolster your current rankings.
When a website owner notices a significant drop in their rankings, they might start to suspect Google's algorithm has been updated. However, it's important to understand that your site could also lose its top ranking for unrelated reasons, such as a decline in search volume or quality of content. Losing rankings doesn't necessarily mean you've been penalized by an update from Google —you may simply need to make some improvements on your site. So how can you tell if you've been hit by one of Google's updates? There are several ways to check whether Google has changed its algorithm or if your site was hit by another issue.
We will cover this and much more in detail below in the article. With Google updates, a strong defense is always better than a strong offense. If your website SEO Company is using questionable tactics, do not let them because usually more harm can be done than good. When you are thinking about making changes to your website or SEO tactics it is important to ask yourself if this will be good for the end user, meaning the person visiting your website. If it does not improve their overall experience then it is likely a bad idea to add to your website.
Why does this matter to me and what is Google looking for?
Google wants to ensure that users find good quality results from their search engine. In order to ensure high-quality results, Google updates its algorithm hundreds of times a year. These changes are often aimed at websites with low-quality content, duplicate content or sites attempting to manipulate search rankings. As a business owner, you should make sure your website is up-to-date with these algorithm updates because if not, it could have devastating effects on your rankings and your business as a whole.
One of the most important things you can do, even if you have no web knowledge, is to ensure that your website does not have duplicated content. Duplicated content is copying content directly from other sources, and either pasting it word for word or changing a few words here and there. Google is smart and can identify when content has been copied and it can quickly evaluate if you took it from another website. This will hurt your rankings online. It is much better to hire a writer to produce original content for your website instead of copying content, changing half of it and claiming it as your own.
Google weighs numerous factors when it is evaluating your website, but the one important thing to keep in mind is Google's goal. Google's goal is to provide the end user with the best possible user experience with the most relevant content. This means that your website should be focused on the end user, provide good quality content and a good experience, and Google will reward you.
Google's algorithms change often, so it's important to be aware of these changes. If you feel like your website has suffered as a result of an algorithm update, there are several things you can do. The first thing is to see if there is something in particular that went wrong with your site. For example, did you take down some content on your site because it was no longer relevant? You can check your Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console) account for any issues with duplicate content or other errors in your site. There are also options in Webmaster Tools where you can submit sitemaps so that when updates happen, Google crawls them sooner than other pages on your site. You should also check with your SEO Company - they should be familiar with exactly what is wrong and how to fix it.
Is there a list of Google Algorithm Updates and where can I see new ones?
Google literally updates their algorithm daily and they do not announce all of their updates. However they usually do let site owners know about major updates, usually after they are done. Here is a list of 7 major Google algorithm updates and what they were intended to do.
1. Google Panda Update: The Google Panda Update was an update to its search algorithm that targeted content farms, or sites with shallow or low-quality content. This led to many sites getting de-indexed (deleted from Google's search results) because they didn't fit Google's vision of quality. If you are serious about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you need to stay up-to-date on these updates.
2. Google Penguin Update: The Google Penguin Update was a black-hat SEO spam algorithm update released by Google on April 24, 2012 to combat web spam. This update targets web spam from link building techniques that violate Google's Webmaster Guidelines - part of their core ranking algorithms. Since then, there have been three other updates to improve upon or further combat web spam.
3. Google Hummingbird Update: The Google Hummingbird Update is a change in how search results are ranked by Google, first announced on September 26, 2013. This update introduced an algorithm that would look at semantic search queries rather than keyword searches, allowing it to return more meaningful results instead of just matching words in a query to pages with those words (which was called word-matching). Its name comes from how hummingbirds hover before they land—like how Hummingbird hovers over your search before landing on relevant results.
4. Google Mobile Update: The Google Mobile Update (or mobile-friendly update) was released by Google on April 21, 2015 in order to target websites that did not display well on mobile devices. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you will get a lower ranking in mobile search results. This update originally affected about 1% of queries, but it affected more than 50% by December 2015.
5. Google Rankbrain Update: This is an update to Google's ranking algorithm that was first introduced in 2015 and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret user searches and better match them with search results. This allows search engines to serve results that were previously considered beyond our current understanding of ranking signals. For example, if a user types in giraffe as a search term, it can more accurately pull up pictures of giraffes versus saying the requested query resulted in an error.
6. Google Medic Update: Google’s Medic Update was released in March of 2016 in order to combat sites that were publishing deceptive content. If your site publishes content that misleads users (like backlink generators), it will get de-indexed.
7. Google June 2019 Core Update: This core algorithm update started rolling out on September 24, 2018. While it may have included new ranking signals, there's no word on what those are yet. It is likely a bundle of smaller updates all combined and released at the same time.
There are numerous sites that keep very current with Google updates. It is best to just search "Google Algorithm Updates" on Google and read numerous sources - there is not one site that has everything. Moz consistently has the most up to date and insightful information.
Your SEO Company Trying to Trick Google = Bad for you, for a long time
It is impossible to trick Google in the long term. Many SEO companies use black hat techniques in order to get your website ranking higher quickly but this backfires and hurts your website in the long term. It is simple - Google gives you guidelines to follow and literally a list of things not to do. If you try to trick Google it will long term hurt your website. Google will catch on eventually because their algorithm is smarter than any human out there.
It is also important to know that what your website company does for you now will affect you long term, even after you stop working with them. You want to be sure your company is well known and has proven results, does not guarantee results (as instructed by Google because it leads to them using black hat techniques to rank you higher) and follows Google's guidelines. Typically companies that offer no contract terms (like month to month) are very much focused on the short term and will use black hat techniques in order to boost your rankings in the short term while not considering the long term negative effects it will have on your rankings.
Things you can do to improve your website for the next Google Algorithm update
Keyword analysis - This is essential in SEO. By analyzing what words you are targeting, it helps optimize your page's content to target those words more often on your site. You can check out tools like Raven or SEMRush to help make keyword analysis easier on you.
Link Building - One of Google's main algorithms is backlinks; how many other sites are pointing to yours? When you look at some of your competitor’s websites, analyze how many links they have pointing to their site. This builds trust with Google but if done improperly can have a major negative effect as well.
A/B testing - Google has made its search results completely personalized; how does that affect your business website? Test out different content on certain keywords by having two similar landing pages with two different variations of keywords being targeted with each page.
Quality Content - Good content is what draws customers to your site, but it also makes Google trust you more. You can't just write filler text either; Google knows when you're doing that. Make sure that everything on your site has value to it.
Have a mobile-friendly website - As mentioned earlier in this post, having a mobile-friendly responsive website is important! 50% of users are using their smartphones or tablets to visit websites rather than computers! This number is only growing, so make sure your site works on these devices.
Remember to stay relevant with updates - Having thousands of backlinks pointing to your site won't matter if they are all dead links! Google looks at how often people are updating their websites in order to know how fresh their content is. You'll want to update your website regularly with new content, including blogging on a regular basis.
Make sure you can be found online - For businesses that have brick-and-mortar stores, it's important to remember that having only a website isn't enough anymore! You also need great SEO on the maps and review websites. Examples are sites like Yelp, Google Maps, etc.
Keep up with social media sites & blogs - If you want people to find you online, you have to get out there and get active on social media sites and search engines. Make sure that your business page or accounts are set up and ready so when someone finds you, they see positive information about your company. This also adds trust with Google and they will reward you with higher rankings because of it.
Google Algorithm updates are not something to be feared if you follow the rules. Keep in mind when you are building your website to focus on it being user friendly, good quality content, have videos and an easy way to contact your business. Social Media will play a role in your rankings, along with online reviews. If you are interested in a free, unbiased website audit or a full online marketing review, please contact us today. We would be happy to help.
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