Google updates represent a change in the algorithms that govern how people browse and explore the online world. The algorithms and how they read the information on the web, sorting them for consumption in a deliberate order, make up the feed of information that people consume on their search results, timelines, and feeds. And these formulas are continually working for users, even when they don’t realize that there may be something going on behind the scenes.
SEO and the Algorithm
SEO is one area that relies heavily on Google’s algorithm. Each aspect of SEO optimization and digital marketing is based on adhering to Google search algorithms’ best practices. However, every so often, Google updates this algorithm and how they compute how search results. This means that whenever the Google algorithms change, so do the best practices involving it. SEO optimization needs to adapt to it. Regardless of whether a company uses SEO keywords, link building or backlinking, or even social media posts, they have to adjust their campaign to adhere to the new development.
It’s also incredibly critical to be aware of any shifts to a company’s algorithm using SEO throughout an extensive website. Take, for example, an e-commerce company that has numerous best practices in place. They have the right keywords, selected through careful research, peppered throughout their website, and they rank high in the searches. But when Google updates the algorithm, they suddenly find themselves slipping. Their practices are no longer “good” according to the updates, and they are penalized as a result.
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To rectify this, the person who is tracking the company’s ranking on Google needs to make the team aware of the situation and determine the changes. The team must then start putting the adjustments into action as soon as possible. Diagnosing and fixing the penalties is vital to maintain the company’s ranking on Google searches. The keywords need to be carefully researched again; the SEO on the pages needs to be perfected once more. The rest of the typical SEO process can proceed following the new techniques.
Breaking Down the Internet: How Google Updates the Algorithms
In its most basic sense, the algorithm is a list of rules that allows Google to solve a problem. In this case, the problem is seeking out relevant, reputable, and accurate search results depending on what keywords the end-user types in. But Google changes the algorithm responsible for this activity often. SEO specialists and analysts must be on top of every change. Knowledge like this allows their clients to maintain their website’s ranking and status as an authority.
Take a look at just some of the algorithm’s essential updates over the years as Google updates the system.
Penguin (April 2012)
Back in 2012, Google Penguin targeted two particular areas: link schemes and keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is when a page is loaded with an unnaturally large number of repetitive keywords in an attempt to make the page appear when a user might search for anything among them. Link schemes, on the other hand, refer to backlinks found in unrelated or low-quality websites. Websites caught doing these techniques were penalized.
Hummingbird (August 2013)
Hummingbird marked a complete rework of the algorithm as people knew it. It wasn’t just another one of the regular Google updates that tweaked some areas—it fully corrected the whole method. Now, instead of focusing only on keywords, Google shifted to focus on topics instead. Google can now better understand the search queries that users typed in.
Possum (September 2016)
Possum wasn’t an official update, but it shifted the focus to more local results. It makes geographical location important. A user who is within the local area of business would be more likely to see the business in their search results. This ultimately increases the local traffic of a website when it came to its local or surrounding areas.
Snippet Length Increase (November 2017)
Meta descriptions were directly affected by this change. Previously, page meta descriptions were restricted to 155 characters. But the new Google updates revealed that the description lengths have now almost doubled, now going all the way to 300 characters. Search results now held more room for details that users can read.
Mobile-first Index (March 2018)
In response to the exponentially increasing number of users on mobile, Google tested a mobile-first index. In turn, site owners then became more vigilant about their sites’ mobile version being SEO-friendly as well.
Snippet Length Decrease (May 2018)
For some changes, they aren’t permanent and act as tests to see if the new method works better. Not all changes are successful, and rollbacks do happen with Google updates. This is one such update; Google tested the 300-character meta description and snippet length and decided it wasn’t working out. They returned the descriptions to 150 to 160 characters, forcing webmasters to truncate their descriptions again.
Video Carousels (June 2018)
Search engine results pages now have organic-like video results in their video carousel. It was a big shakeup on what is defined as “organic” to Google search results. Now, companies who are taking advantage of video marketing could find their media on the results page.
Diversity (June 2019)
Google then announced a site diversity update, wherein sites that had more than two organic listings saw improvement.
International BERT Rollout (December 2019)
Google updates confirmed that a natural language processing algorithm was being rolled out in over 70 languages. This means Google is now better able to understand natural languages, especially when it comes to searches. The contexts are better understood, leading to better search results. Now websites that use natural languages can also use better SEO techniques.
Featured Snippet De-Duping (January 2020)
Early this year, Google decided that the featured snippets are no longer traditional organic results. Now, these snippets would get promoted organic results. It directly impacted the way ranking is tracked among websites as well as click-through rates.
The May Core Update (May 2020)
This is considered the latest major update of this year. Google updates revealed that they made another significant change to their algorithm, and it affected many industries that have also been hit by COVID-19. Travel, health, animals, food, and people have all been affected categories. As the rankings fluctuated dramatically, webmasters are now being advised to adapt to the changes in several ways.
Hold Your Ground! Ways to Maintain Ranking Even During Turbulence
With all the algorithm changes, there’s simply no telling what kind of developments will affect a website. As Google continues to adjust and refine the rankings to adapt to real-world changes and developments, businesses and website owners should also adjust to adhere to the new guidelines. Maintaining ranking while Google updates the algorithm can be tricky, but the experts have several ways to keep a website afloat on top of the search results.
Keep the title and meta description optimized.
As you might have noticed, the changes don’t apply very much to titles and meta descriptions apart from some truncation here and there. The title and the snippet or description will be the first thing that the users will see in the search results, making those two areas count on the get-go. They won’t be as affected as other changes.
Stay on schedule and update frequently.
If your website has been one of the most recent Google updates’ casualties, there’s no need to panic. Publishing updated content regularly reduces the risk of a decline in traffic and maintains relevancy. Furthermore, it’s an excellent chance to check if any old articles have dead links, thanks to changes in the site. Keeping links working prevents any further penalties.
Now is not the time to slow down on link building. As long as the team considers any updates regarding link building and the new best practices for it, it’s a good idea to keep building the links around. It puts distance between you and the competition.
Another great way to maintain a high SEO rank despite Google updates is to make sure that your website is considered an authority, particularly for the keyword you’re trying to rank for. In the most recent evolutions of the Google algorithm, there is plenty of weight placed onto websites considered authoritative in their subjects. If the site maintains that value, any difficulties to changes in the algorithm should be minimal.
Switch your site to HTTPs.
If you haven’t already done it, shift the website from “HTTP” to “HTTPS.” In 2018, Google updates classified HTTP web addresses as “not secure.” It could result in the site receiving a warning label from Google, and people will be disinclined to go to it. It would lower the page’s ranking. By shifting to https, not only does it update the website to better protocols, but rankings are maintained.
Google doesn’t announce its updates as succinctly. Sometimes, changes may be implemented or tested with no announcement, causing some turbulence in the rankings. Therefore, site owners should always remain vigilant, tracking their rankings, and looking for any abnormalities. Knowing when changes happen is the most critical part of being prepared for changes and new Google updates.
Stay with the key principles.
While the constantly changing algorithms make maintaining solid SEO ranking an unending task, there are key principles you could abide by to always give your website the opportunity to succeed. These are monitoring your competition, producing relevant and valuable content, and ensuring the best possible experience for your visitors. If you’re able to do these three, people will come – tweaking to adjust to updates will be the easy part.
Stay on Top
Google’s algorithms rule the world of SEO rankings and optimization. Sometimes, there’s no telling why they make changes, and there’s no heads up. But as with any competition in the tech world, businesses and site owners must continue to improve and to innovate, adapting to the changing ground. Only then can they indeed stay abreast of their competition.
Have you experienced drops in ranking because of Google updates? How did you rectify the situation? Let us know in the comments below.
Hello! I am Manuel, the Chief Content Officer of Startup Credo. My writing proficiency covers topics about social media, digital marketing, technology, and mobile applications.
When I was younger, I fell in love with writing my emotions through poems, and as years gone by, I used my gift by making informative articles regarding new technologies to reach out to my reader’s souls.
When I’m not writing you’ll see me in my garden with my plants to refresh with nature.