Google seem to have an issue with the concept of “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. We are, of course, talking about their continuous algorithms updates – the top secret procedures and calculations used by Google to rank sites’ content and return search engine results.
Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times! But you only hear about the big ones, sort of like the big 4 of men’s tennis (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray).
OK, admittedly these constant improvements to the algorithm is for our own good, as it ensures that quality websites are rewarded, and that ‘black hat’ techniques are penalised, so results remain relevant and of high quality. This is of course a brilliant thing! But from a search engine optimisation point of view, these changes have caused many a sleepless night for SEO consultants in Auckland and all over New Zealand – in fact practically everyone involved in SEO across the globe! Successful websites inexplicably fell off the much coveted first page of results overnight, or worse, content which was fine one day was suddenly penalised the next.
So what is the Google SEO algorithm all about? Firstly, it is important to understand that Google don’t replace one algorithm with a newer version, but rather add to it and improve it. Each version focuses on different aspects of SEO, reflective of Google’s goals, and embracing the spirit of each of them will help you to optimise your website as effectively as possible.
Here is an overview of the major Google Algorithm updates:
In 2009, Google Caffeine was released. It helped Google to return search results more efficiently by analysing the structure of a website, rather than its content, and sound architecture is still valued as an indication of the quality of a site.
Despite its cuddly name, Google Panda was another sign of Google’s tough love 2 years later in 2011. It aimed to ensure that the web was a place with useful, valuable information by penalising websites with poor content, intrusive advertisement, black-hat SEO techniques and duplicate content used to bump up search results. Content is still highly valued by Google to this day, not to mention by actual human beings visiting your site!
Google added to its zoo with Penguin 1.0 in 2012, and 2.0 in 2013, and this was one of those cases of overnight changes in ranks. Google built up on the requirement for quality, relevant content, legitimate optimisation techniques and online reputation, downgrading mercilessly spammy websites or those which had tried to outwit Google with keyword stuffing for example. With Penguin 2.0, they turned their attention to the practice of buying links to attract traffic and improve reputation fraudulently.
Released on September 27, 2013 to coincide with Google’s 15th anniversary, Hummingbird is Google’s latest algorithm. Symbolically named after a bird renowned for its speed and accuracy, Hummingbird was conceived to refresh both Google’s indexing and their search engine, while retaining the previous search algorithm capabilities.
Said to affect around 90% of all searches, the Hummingbird is an intelligent algorithm which can learn from your previous searches and associate it to the next search in order to deliver more targeted, relevant result.
The internet is a living, breathing organism, a constantly changing landscape. Reaching the top is a fantastic achievement, and staying there long term a challenge. To maximise your chances, never stop optimising your website with legitimate SEO techniques and always remember that good content is ALWAYS king.
Are you are die hard Google Algorithm fan?
Well if so, then who are we to stand in your way? You can stay on top of all the changes to the Google Algorithm at the Moz website here: http://moz.com/google-algorithm-change
Knock yourself out kid.