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Google introduces hundreds of Google algorithm updates yearly. 

These updates include minor and major updates that can affect your post rank on search engine result pages.

How do you stay updated? Which algorithm update will affect your SEO strategy, and how exactly will it affect your ranking? More importantly, how do you maintain and improve your ranking despite these updates?

The answer to these questions starts with understanding the role of the Google algorithm in satisfying a searcher’s query and how its updates are based on increasing satisfaction.

If you’ve tried a recent search, you’ll notice how images, long-form, and short-form videos are now a part of Google’s search engine result page. 

Not to talk of featured snippets.

These are just a few algorithms updates Google rolls out yearly and their impacts on how searches are answered or displayed.

To simplify Google’s algorithm, I’ll take you through how Google Search works, how Google determines top-ranking pages, and major algorithm updates that have affected and keep affecting SEO.

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What is Google Algorithm?

Google Algorithm is the process Google uses to determine how to rank content on a search engine result page.

To put it more technically, it means the compendium of factors and systems that Google uses to determine the worthiness of content against other competitors. It determines which of the millions of web pages is the most relevant and authoritative for each query.

These factors include backlinks, keywords, user experience, content, website structure, etc.

Three (3) Stages of Google Search

According to Google developers, Google Search is a “fully automated search engine that uses software known as web crawlers that explore the web regularly to find pages to add to their index.”

This means when you upload web pages on your site, web crawlers will crawl the web to determine which pages should be indexed into the Google library. However, there is no guarantee that your page will be crawled, indexed, or served even if you follow the search essentials.

There are three stages of a Google search, and your pages need to go through all these stages before you can start talking about ranking on the first page.

READ MORE: 

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Crawling

Web crawlers do this. When you upload your pages on the internet, there isn’t an exact registry for it which means that until your page is crawled and indexed by Google, it doesn’t exist.

Google web crawlers constantly crawl the web to look for new and updated pages to add to its indexed list. This is also called URL Discovery. There are two ways your URL can be discovered:

  • Through a link from an already known page.
  • Through sitemaps

When your URL is discovered, the web crawlers, also known as Googlebot or web spiders, will crawl your page to know what you have on it. However, you can disallow Googlebot from crawling your page if need be by using robots.txt codes.

Indexing

Indexing is Google trying to understand the textual content of your page and its attributes (alt attributes, images, videos, and so on).

While indexing your page, Google discovers if the page is a duplicate page, a copy from another site, or if it is canonical. To index pages, Google creates a cluster of pages that answer a specific query and tries to find the most relevant and valuable page that answers the query and aligns with the user’s intent.

The other pages will then be an alternate version that can be served in several other contexts like location, device, or specificity.

In indexing, Google notes ranking factors and signals directly impacting how this page will be served in search engines.

All the information found in indexing will then be stored in the Google index.

There is no guarantee that a page will be indexed, although indexing depends on your page content and its metadata.

Serving

When a query is inserted into the search engine, Googlebot searches the list of indexed pages from that cluster and determines which pages are more relevant to that particular search query.

Several factors, including location, language, and device, determine the relevance of a web page to a query. This is why search results vary even though the same query is inputted.

How does Google Algorithm work?

Google’s algorithm involves several factors, making it a very complex process to understand. Google usually does rigorous testing to improve search results, leading to several algorithm updates to cover up discovered lapses and meet up with technological advances.

The ranking factors developed as a result of these updates are not entirely revealed to the public, probably because of the possibility of abuse by bloggers. 

For example, when keywords became a hot topic and an obvious ranking factor, people started abusing the placement of keywords on their blogs, resulting in keyword stuffing and many fluff posts on result pages. 

However, some primary and constant factors are consistently used despite algorithm changes, and Google sometimes gives us little hints on the particular ranking factor to focus on.

Google Algorithm ranking factors: How top-ranking posts are determined by Google.

Google uses an automated system to rank the hundreds of billions of pages in its search index to visually present the most relevant, valuable, and appropriate content to its users.

If you want your website to rank high on search engines, you must understand Google’s ranking factors and how they can impact your position on search result pages.

The truth is that there are over 200 ranking factors and signals Google uses to determine its top pages. However, most of these factors are conditional and based on several other contexts.

So, how does Google determine the top-ranking posts?

Meaning of A Query

The Google algorithm tries to understand what a searcher is looking for when they type in their query, known as the user/search intent.

The fact that searchers input queries don’t reduce their relevance to bloggers. 

The meaning of a query will determine if Google will rank your post for it because satisfying a user’s intent is what Google strives to do, and hence, the constant algorithm updates.

So, you need to match the content of your posts to match a user’s intent. For example, to create a post around ‘SEO platforms,’ you must first check top-ranking pages for that keyword to discover the user intent. 

User intent is majorly categorized into four types:

  • Transactional: These are searchers looking to buy certain products. For these types of searchers, Google will lead them straight to product pages instead of informational or review pages. 
  • Informational: These are searchers looking for specific information about a topic. It could be a real-time update (soccer scores, epidemic), recipe, or information about SEO strategies. 

For example, if you type in ‘chicken soup’ as your search query, Google won’t give you information like chicken soup’s history or its nutritional content but will provide you with recipes.

  • Navigational: This involves people looking for a company or website name. 

For example, if you type in ‘Google Drive,’ ‘Facebook,’ ‘Samsung,’ ‘SARMLife,’ and so on, Google understands you are probably heading to the website. So, the first few results you see will navigate you to the website and pages on the website.

  • Commercial: These are searchers intending to buy but not at the moment. It is similar to transactional intent but will likely indicate the need for specific information.

For example, a commercial intent will go like this: ‘best washing machine’ or ‘types of automatic washing machines’ while a transactional intent might go ‘Hisense automatic washing machine.’

Relevance

According to Google, the keyword is the most basic signal that the content is relevant. If the keyword in your post is the same as the keyword in the query, it means your post is relevant to that keyword.

Content, content quality, and other attributes are other ways to determine whether a blog post is relevant. Google uses “aggregated and anonymized interaction data to assess whether search results are relevant to queries.” 

Relevance to a query also includes the satisfaction of user intent and authoritativeness.

For example, regarding queries that might affect someone’s life, like information about a disease, Google prioritizes certain sites on the result page for that query—usually verified health sites, hospital websites, and even pharmaceutical company blogs that are primarily .org sites.

Queries on educational content or institutions might show a result page prioritizing .edu sites.

To optimize your site for relevance, you must consistently leverage on-page SEO strategies for all your web pages.

Content Quality

A page’s relevance does not mean it will be the most helpful to a user. The Google algorithm puts together several factors to determine if your page will be served to a user and to determine if a page will be most helpful.

These factors are analyzed by Google’s automated system and reviewed by search quality raters who have to follow the Search Quality Evaluator Guideline (SQEG).

The SQEG is a 176-page detailed document highlighting how Google rates your content, and it is a PDF document that is available to the public.

View the SQEG document here.

Here are some factors that reflect a high-quality page:

The purpose

This is similar to search intent, which concerns why the web page was created. 

The purpose of your web page and even your website needs to be known to determine how well that purpose is achieved with your content.

The type of page does not determine the rating it gets. For example, a humor page will not necessarily rank higher than an informative page. 

Why

Because the purpose of a humor page is entertainment, and as long as that purpose is being fulfilled, it can be rated as high quality.

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E – E – A – T

The E-E-A-T is a set of signals that Google prioritizes and uses as its major pillars for assessing a web page. However, it is not the final determinant of a page’s ranking.

  • Expertise: This considers the knowledge and skills the writer/creator has on the topic.

It usually includes relevant certification.

  • Experience: This considers the first-hand experience the writer/creator has on the topic, which doesn’t require any certification. 
  • Authoritativeness: This is the extent to which a writer/creator is considered a go-to site. Google can determine the authoritativeness of a page or site through backlinks and domain authority.
  • Trustworthiness: This is the most crucial part of the E-E-A-T family. The level of trust a page needs depends on the page type.

Informational and product review pages must be accurate, honest, and informative. 

Online stores or product pages need secure payment systems and good customer service.

Main Content Quality

Google rates web pages in four categories:

  • Lowest quality rating
  • Low-quality rating
  • Medium quality rating
  • High-quality rating
  • Highest quality rating.

These ratings are determined by specific factors, including:

  • Quality of the main content: Your content should show your talent, skill, originality, and effort toward achieving the page’s purpose. This writes off automatically generated posts using AI tools.
  • The page title: Your page title (headline) should give enough information about the post’s content.

In other words, your title should give a summary of the page. 

  • Impact of ads or additional content: The ad placements in your post should not interfere with the page’s quality in any way.

In the same way, supplementary content like navigation links, embedded graphics, and videos should not affect the quality of your page.

  • Website information: This usually includes information on your ‘about us’ page. While Google understands that this information might be biased, it uses it as a starting point to understand the purpose of your website and, ultimately, your posts.
  • Website reputation: This is your website’s online reputation, from online reviews to social media mentions. Google tries to know what others think of you and your posts.
  • E-E-A-T:  The content of your post should communicate an adequate level of experience, expertise, trust, and authority. 

YMYL Content

This is called ‘Your Money or Your Life’ content, which indicates content that directly impacts the user’s health, safety, happiness, and even financial stability. 

To rank these types of content, Google leans more on the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the page than other aspects of its guidelines.

In the SQEG document, Google explicitly states what it considers as YMYL content, and these types of content need to be written by certified professionals in the respective niches.

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For example, a blog post on diet plans, the treatment of a disease, or the nutritional content of food should be written by a certified health professional.

However, if you are writing on a YMYL topic and not necessarily a certified professional in that field, you can:

  • Focus on your personal experience with the topic. For example, if you’re writing about pregnancy, you can focus on your experience when you were pregnant.
  • Let a certified professional review your content and include this information in your post.

Context

To keep search results in the same context as the search query, Google uses specific information like the search history, settings, location, and so on to serve only the most relevant results.

So, depending on your location, Google shows you the most relevant results.

For example, if you type ‘football,’ your result page will differ if you’re in London compared to America.

If you’re in London, you’ll most likely see results about soccer, while in America, you’ll see results on Rugby.

Also, if your recent search history is around fruits, you might see a search result on the apple fruit when you search for ‘apple,’ but if your search history has been about gadgets and phones, you might see a search result about Apple phones.

Search settings like SafeSearch will filter your search results to avoid showing explicit ones.

Backlinks

Technically, Google wants to know if your page is relevant in your field through backlinks, which is one factor determining a page’s quality.

Backlinks are links to your site from authoritative websites or pages. Each of your pages needs backlinks from relevant authoritative sites relevant to the search query.

So, the fact that you have tons of links from the Search Engine Journal on an old post does not mean you will rank high for a newer post; your new post should also contain topically relevant backlinks.

Obtaining these links is known as link building and can be burdensome, especially for new sites. However, backlinks are one of the most important and prioritized ways Google uses to rank pages and increase a site’s domain authority.

How do you check for backlinks on a page?

Using Ubersuggest

  • Go to backlinks on Ubersuggest
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  • Input the URL
  • Filter your result.
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  • Backlink opportunities
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How do you build links?

  • Guest blogging: This includes strategic reach-out offers to website owners/bloggers. You are not just approaching bloggers from different niches to amass links; you need to write valuable posts that appeal to the blogger, search engines, and your audience.

The sites you approach for guest blogging must be relevant websites in your niche, have significant domain authority, and be closely streamlined to your audience.

  • Resource pages: Resource pages are some of the fastest ways to get backlinks. Here is an example of a resource page.

You can create resource pages that answer specific questions in your niche. 

For example, when it comes to the blogging industry, the most common and relevant issue is ‘how to rank your posts high on Google.’ If you want to create a resource post, you can create one like this:

  • 30 blogs that will teach you how to rank on Google
  • Best 20 blogs that will make SEO easy for you

When you finish writing your resource page, you can email these website owners to inform them that you referenced them in your post. 

You might only get a response from some of them, but many will be inclined to reciprocate by linking to your post.

  • Infographics: Infographics are linkable. 

They are graphical illustrations of information; creating original, simple, and catchy infographics increases your chances of getting backlinks from authority websites.

Your infographics could be a graph, chart, illustration, or any other graphical description of a concept in your niche.

You can carry out industry studies on a subject and summarize it graphically. The originality of your infographic increases the chances of getting backlinks from authority websites.

  • Industry statistics: This is also one of the ways to get backlinks from authority websites. 

Of course, carrying out industry statistics will be time-consuming, but the reward is worth it. 

You can create a post that showcases the statistics around a single SEO strategy. 

For example, create a blog post about email marketing statistics. It can include statistics on how many digital marketers and bloggers use email marketing, their strategies, percentage of effectiveness, platforms, etc. 

One thing I love about this type of post is that you can create a statistics post on a broad subject and segment it to fit across different niches. 

For example, email marketing cuts across both blogging and business, and I can segment the statistics to their relevance to blogging and business.

  • Broken link building: There are many web pages by authority websites with broken links, and you can capitalize on this.

This strategy is called the broken link strategy; it largely depends on finding dead links from existing or expired domains and offering your links as a replacement.

There are different ways to spot broken links on a site; while you can do this manually, it is time-consuming and exhausting. However, you can search for expired domains, check for sites that link to them, and reach out via email to pitch a replacement link to them.

This article explains how to search for broken links in detail.

  • Email outreach: Although most link-building strategies require you to reach out via email, you can also directly write emails to specific websites to request them to link to your posts.

You should not copy an email template word for word when carrying out an email outreach campaign. In Neil Patel’s post about how to leverage broken links, he explains that most outreach campaigns do not work because “lazy marketers blindly copy email templates.”

The most important thing to include in your email is your name, website, link, and destination point in the post. You also want to make sure that you highlight why you chose the site.

Keywords

Keywords are used to determine the relevance of a page to the search query.

This highlights the importance of keyword research and keyword placements on your page.

Keyword research.

This uses SEO tools like Ubersuggest, ahrefs, or SEMrush to determine what posts you can rank for; it includes statistics like search volume, cost per click, SEO difficulty, keyword intent, paid difficulty, and so on.

The tool you’re using will determine what statistics you’ll see.

When researching for relevant keywords, you also need to know the intent of that particular keyword; this helps you to streamline the path your content will take.

For example, a keyword like ‘how to use a washing machine’ is informational. When creating your content, you want to ensure it contains all information about using a washing machine, not a review or product page.

If your content does not follow the search intent for its keyword, the possibility of ranking is slim.

Keywords can be short-tail, medium-tail, or long-tail. It is advisable to use medium-tail keywords because they are narrow enough and specific.

However, with voice search optimization, optimizing your content around long-tail keywords is best.

READ MORE: A COMPREHENSIVE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO VOICE SEARCH OPTIMIZATION

So, how do you work around this contradiction?

Here’s how:

  • My focus keyword is a medium-tail keyword to ensure that I cover a wide range of audiences but not too streamlined that it’s insignificant.
  • I create an optimized headline around a long tail keyword, and my entire title could be a long tail keyword or search query from answerthepublic.
  • As part of my content outline, I create a subheading with my long tail keyword.
  • I also create a FAQ section on the page to answer several related long-tail keywords/queries.
  • I put my focus keyword in strategic places in my post.
  • My other keywords will consist of short-tail, medium-tail, and long-tail keywords.

This way, I optimize my content for medium and long-tail keywords.

Keyword placement.

The placement of your keywords in your post is just as important as the research. 

There are strategic places your keyword need to be on each page:

  • Title: Your focus keyword should appear intact in your title.
  • Introduction: The first 10% of your post should contain your focus keyword.
  • Meta description: It is advantageous for your focus keyword to appear in the meta description of your post.
  • Subheading: At least one subheading (with an H2 tag) should have your focus keyword.
  • Conclusion: Your focus keyword should appear in your conclusion as well.
  • FAQ: FAQ sections help with on-page optimization, especially for voice searches. It is a necessary place to input your focus keyword.
  • URL: Your focus keyword must appear in your page’s URL; it is crucial.
  • Alt text: Alt text for your images should also include your focus keyword, which helps with image optimization.

READ MORE: HOW TO DO IMAGE SEO OPTIMIZATION | THE COMPLETE GUIDE – SARMLife

When placing keywords in your content, you must ensure it settles naturally into a sentence. 

If you place your keywords unnaturally, the algorithm can pick that up and render your keyword invalid.

Google understands that keywords cannot be the final judge of a content’s relevance, so it uses several other signals to corroborate the relevance of such content.

For example, short-tail keywords are broad and can appear too frequently in a post. For posts like these, other signals are checked to determine their rank.

User Experience

A positive user experience on your page will help your pages to rank higher on result pages. These experiences include:

Security of the site.

An SSL Certificate is essential for your content to rank high on Google because Google prefers more secure websites. 

So, an HTTPS site will rank higher than an HTTP site.

To get an SSL certificate, you need to buy it, install it on your blog host platform, and update all your URLs to HTTPS.

Page responsiveness.

How responsive is your page?

Page speed is an essential part of user experience. If your page loads very slowly or appears differently on other search engines, it might reduce your ranking.

You can check your site’s loading speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

After checking your page speed, it also gives you tips to improve it.

Here are some ways you can increase your page speed:

  • Reduce media sizes
  • Remove irrelevant supplementary contents
  • Optimize your website design
  • Enable browser caching for your pages
  • Reduce the number of redirection links on your pages
  • Reduce HTTP requests
  • Use lazy loading for your images
  • Clean up your cookies
  • Remove unnecessary elements
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN)

Device optimization.

All your pages need to be optimized for mobile devices. Google uses mobile-friendly as part of its ranking factors because many searches are from mobile devices.

Your page’s attributes (images, videos, texts, etc.) should fit perfectly on a mobile device screen.

It doesn’t mean you should ignore optimization for desktops. You should optimize your pages to fit any device, including tablets, iPads, desktops, and mobile phones.

Value.

Google can determine how valuable a search result is to a user through the time spent on the page.

This time is mainly reflected in the bounce rate and dwell time.

If Google ranks your page high on search results but discovers that it doesn’t satisfy user intent or its content is not valuable to searchers, it drops that page down on search results. Similarly, it boosts pages with the best user experience and satisfies significant ranking factors and signals.

The Google algorithm can also pick up pages with return visits compared to one-time visits.

High return visits to a page indicate high-quality content, and Google will prioritize this page more than others.

Intrusive Interstitials.

Intrusive interstitials are page elements that disrupt the user’s view of the page’s content. These intrusive interstitials are usually promotional materials exclusive of legal or mandatory interstitials.

For example, a casino site must validate the user’s age, so intrusive interstitials might not apply. However, it’s best to follow best practices for interstitials so Googlebot can easily crawl the page.

If you need to create pop-ups/interstitials on your page either for promotional or navigational purposes, do these instead:

  • Use banners that take up a fraction of the screen.
  • Use browser-supported banners like Smart App Banners for Safari or in-app install experience for Chrome.
  • Use CMS interstitial templates.
  • Avoid redirection links on interstitials.

Core Web Vitals.

In addition to the above, the Google algorithm also looks out for Core Web Vitals, an additional user experience signal that will help site owners measure user experience.

Core Web Vitals, according to Google, is a “real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience” and is related to page speed, interactivity, and visual stability of content as it loads.

Google combines Core Web Vitals with the existing page experience signals to create a more effective measure of a user experience on a web page.

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Freshness

When it comes to the freshness of content, this is about how recent or updated that content is.

When it comes to the freshness of a page, it doesn’t mean you have to make changes or update your content daily; some do not need to be updated regularly compared to others.

For example, web pages involving current happenings in the world, like sports news, disasters, or trends, will need to be updated because Google will rank more recent posts for search queries.

However, content like blogging tips or kitchen storage ideas does not necessarily need to be recent for Google to rank them higher on result pages, so it is necessary to write on topics that will stay relevant over a long period. These are referred to as ‘evergreen content.’

READ MORE: 18 simple ways to come up with blog post ideas daily – SARMLife

However, it is essential to consider this ranking factor even if you have evergreen content.

When you decide on a target keyword, analyze search engine result pages to know if Google ranks more recent pages. If it does, you want to include recent details in your post, attach a header tag, and even include it in your FAQ section so web crawlers can see it quickly and clearly.

If you have an old post similar to the keyword, you can update it, known as historical optimization.

Domain Authority (DA)

Websites with high domain authority are usually given preference at certain times.

This doesn’t mean you can’t rank for specific keywords if your domain authority is low. Google doesn’t rank a website; it ranks web pages.

Domain Authority comes into play when Google needs web pages that reflect authority and expertise. 

For example, regarding YMYL topics, Google will prioritize content from sites with high DA compared to other sites.

15 Major Google Algorithm Updates That Affect SERPs And How.

1. Florida.

This update was released in November 2003 and began the Google algorithm update revolution. 

Retail sites that used spammy strategies like keyword stuffing, invisible texts, and hidden links took the most hit.

Google revolutionized how keywords will be used in web pages to give preference to pages that provide value beyond just ranking on search engines.

2. Jagger.

This update was between September – October 2005 and focused on penalizing sites with suspicious backlinks.

Sites that had a sudden, suspicious surge of backlinks, irrelevant anchor texts, backlinks from spammy sites, and known link farms were penalized.

3. Big Daddy.

The Big Daddy update was approved and released in December 2005, and it was an extension of the Jagger update but expanded its focus to inbound and outbound links.

This algorithm update majorly affected sites with new domains.

4. Vince.

The Vince update was named after a Google engineer and focused on giving preferences to brands or businesses for commercial and transactional queries.

This update was exclusive to the brand’s SEO practices. So, it didn’t matter if your posts were not optimized; so far, you sold the product in the search queries.

5. Panda.

In June 2010, Google released an algorithm update focused on the speed at which Google crawls and indexes web pages. This was to release more recent search results to users.

However, this update also saw the boosting of low-quality pages because of their freshness. 

So, Google released the Panda update to combat the negative impact of the Caffeine update.

This Panda update was released in February 2011 and aimed to penalize sites with low-quality content, including thin content pages, affiliate sites, and duplicate pages.

It is one of the major updates that still affects search results.

6. Penguin.

This algorithm update was rolled out in May 2012 and focused on correcting the abuse of link-building strategies through black hat link-building techniques.

It focused on external and backlinks to check for its genuineness and is an extension of the Panda update in 2011.

With this update, sites that bought links or used spammy or artificially created links were penalized by giving them a negative site value.

7. Hummingbird.

In September 2013, another Google algorithm update was released. This update focused on improving the accuracy and relevance of search results, especially for more complex and conversational queries.

It used Natural Language Processing (NLP) dependent on latent semantic indexing, synonyms, and co-occurring terms.

This algorithm update marked the beginning of optimizing content for voice search.

The update focused on each word of a given query to understand the search context. This helps to provide more defined results that are satisfactory to the user.

8. Pigeon.

This algorithm update focused on local brands and businesses. Released in July 2014, its primary goal was to improve local search results for queries that might indicate local intent. 

It started with the Venice update in February 2012, revealing that Google understands that some search queries might have local intent. It showed result pages based on the device’s location or IP address.

9. Mobilegeddon.

This was the beginning of mobile-friendliness as an important ranking factor. Released in 2015, Mobilegeddon focused on boosting pages optimized for mobile devices in search rankings.

It affected sites with tiny texts, closely placed clickable elements, and the inability of web pages to adapt to different screen sizes.

This update is still relevant to today’s SEO.

10. RankBrain.

Also released in 2015, RankBrain focused on improving the machine learning algorithm to help understand queries and enhance search results.

It is one of the best and most technologically advanced algorithm updates.

With RankBrain, Google could predict a searcher’s intent using their search history. It analyzes your past searches and gives you the most relevant result to a query, even if it involves polysemous words.

11. Possum.

In 2016, Google released this new algorithm that helped to improve the Pigeon update in 2014.

This Google algorithm improves the visibility of local search results by taking into context the exact location of the searcher and their proximity to the business/brand.

12. Fred.

This Google algorithm update was released in 2017 and aimed at penalizing sites with suspicious backlinks and low-quality content.

13. Medic.

This Google algorithm update focuses on life-altering content (YMYL) and penalizes sites that do not have enough trust, authority, or expertise (E-A-T) to talk on that subject.

To write a web page about a YMYL topic, you need expertise/experience, affiliation with a regulatory body, or a link from a trusted authority site in that niche.

14. BERT.

With Google focusing more on user intent, it uses the BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) algorithm released in 2019 to understand user intent and provide more accurate and valuable results.

Like Hummingbird update, it uses NLP to understand search intent and boost pages that can create content to meet the search intent of its user and drops content that focuses on its search engine.

15. Core Updates

Google releases core updates to check existing algorithms and their effectiveness and update these algorithms to produce better and up-to-date results.

In 2020 alone, Google released three core updates.

With these core updates being released, little information is usually known about them.

However, there are ways you can keep track of the most Google algorithm and tailor your web pages to fit the standard.

How to keep track of new algorithm updates

Keeping track of Google algorithm updates is essential as some updates might not be confirmed.

However, you do not need to track every update because Google releases several new updates yearly and also improves on existing ones.

The core updates that will impact SEO and SERPs should be what you’re tracking.

Here are ways to keep track of core algorithm updates:

1. Google Search Central Blog.

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The Google Search Central Blog is where you will see official algorithm updates, announcements of new search features, and best practices for SEO.

You can even subscribe to its RSS feed to get the latest updates in your feed reader.

You can filter the information based on the year and authors in case you want specific information.

There are blog updates from as far back as 2005 till date and over 60 different authors, including Matt Cutts and John Mueller.

2. Set up Google Alerts for Algorithm Changes.

Google Alerts is a free notification tool for several purposes, like online mentions, competitor keyword tracking, and algorithm changes.

You can set up Google Alerts by signing in with the Google account you want to receive the notifications.

Next, decide what source/keyword you want to track and decide when you want to receive the updates.

For example, you can opt-in for weekly or monthly instant alerts.

You can also choose between getting an email with the report or getting it on your RSS feed.

When you set your Google Alerts to track ‘Google algorithm updates,’ you get notified via email or RSS feed when something about algorithm updates is mentioned online.

3. Follow Google SearchLiason on Twitter.

This is Google’s official Twitter account, where you’ll see core algorithm updates notifications even before they are released.

From this account, you can get algorithm news straight from the source and access to the information available for that update, including how it can affect your on-page and off-page SEO.

4. Search Engine Roundtable.

This website gives a well-rounded view of SEO by tracking and providing reports on search engine industry news and algorithm updates.

Search Engine Roundtable can also send notifications directly to your phone to give you trending news in the SEO world. 

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You can also follow them via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

5. Use of Analytics Tools.

Analytics tools might not give you updated information on algorithm updates, but they will help you monitor traffic and rankings.

This makes it easy to spot changes or fluctuations an algorithm update may cause.

Grump

Grump by Accuranker is the best analytic tool to help track Google algorithm changes. It checks if Google is ‘grumpier’ than normal, which indicates there might’ve been an algorithm change.

MozCast 

This analytical tool shows changes or turbulence in the Google algorithm using a weather forecasting format. 

MozCast analyzes 10,000 hand-picked keywords across 20 niches and five major US cities and compares the result page to the previous day’s results. 

It then uses a weather format to show the degree of change in the search results. The hotter or stormier the weather is, the more likely it is that Google ranking factors or algorithms have changed.

How to know which of your contents are affected by new algorithm changes

Here are the ways to determine if any of your content has been affected by a new Google algorithm update:

Google Search Central.

Google Search Central is formerly called Google Webmasters and contains specific information that can help improve your website’s SEO.

It also has a blog where Google gives updates on algorithms and guideline changes. 

The blog explicitly explains everything you need to know about these changes and even offers tips (best practices) for them.

You should check the Webmaster’s blog regularly.

Search Console.

This free analytical tool by Google helps you monitor your website’s analytics and troubleshoot for SEO issues. With Google Search Console, you can monitor your website traffic and receive alerts for SEO issues.

SARMLife

This will help you take prompt action and be quickly notified of changes in search results due to algorithm changes.

Analytics Tool.

You can use other analytical tools besides Google Search Console to check for changes in your site’s SEO, including Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, Google Analytics, Yoast, WooRank, HubSpot, and others.

Google algorithm changes that affect SEO will also affect search results, reflecting your site traffic, conversion, impression, and even rankings.

The main goal of using analytical tools is to monitor SEO changes that algorithm changes might have caused.

You can also use analytical tools to carry out a competitive analysis. The purpose of this is to check if your competitors also experience the same changes as your site. If changes are similar, it means there is a general change in the algorithm.

Sometimes, the effect of an algorithm change is not immediate and might take some time before it reflects on your site. Also, some minor algorithm changes are not noticeable.

What to do when a Google algorithm update affects your site content?

If your site has been affected by a Google algorithm change, rectifying and getting it back in the game is easy. 

Here are the steps to follow:

Identify the problem.

If you notice some issues with your content, likely affected by algorithm changes, try pinpointing the exact web pages affected by these updates. Usually, the algorithm focuses on spammy links, unsatisfactory search intent, low-quality content, and user experience.

You want to be able to identify the pages that have one or more of these issues.

Evaluate the problem.

How can you fix it? Once you know the pages affected by these updates, evaluate for possible solutions. You can delete or update these pages from your site to align with Google’s guidelines.

Be patient.

Patience is necessary for updates that take days before they are completed. While it is important to fix issues as soon as possible, you also want to take your time to analyze what an update is targeting so you can fix it better and more permanently.

Get verified information.

You should only get information concerning Google algorithm updates from verified sites. Only some forums have trusted information, especially when the updates are recent. 

Preferably, focus on official pages like Google SearchLiason, Search Engine Journal, Moz, and other industry experts you know.

Fix it.

When fixing your content for algorithm updates, ensure it is absolutely needed. Usually, if you already follow best SEO practices according to Google guidelines, your content will hardly be affected by algorithm updates.

Improve.

One of the best practices for SEO is always to give valuable and relevant content. Improve your SEO strategies and work on website issues that affect device responsiveness and user experience.

Does the use of AI in SEO help to increase ranking potential?

Using AI in SEO might help you increase ranking, but this is conditional. 

The fact that Google uses an automated ranking system does not mean you can set up machine against machine. 

Aside from using automated systems, Google has human search quality raters hired by Google to evaluate the quality of their search results. They access search results served by Google algorithm and analyze them for relevance and usefulness.

Search Quality Raters use a set of guidelines provided by Google to evaluate several elements of the post. They do not change the search results, but their evaluation helps Google assess its algorithm’s effectiveness and know what parts must be fine-tuned.

AI can be a valuable tool for SEO, but you shouldn’t use it independently.

Tips for maintaining top-quality posts despite Google algorithm changes.

Have you noticed a decline in your site’s traffic due to algorithm changes? Do you want to consistently boost your page’s ranking despite the changes to Google’s search algorithm? 

Here is how you can maintain top rank despite Google algorithm updates:

1. Mobile optimization.

This is one of the most important SEO tips to help with your ranking. Mobile-friendliness is a solid ranking factor because of the number of searches from mobile devices.

Google prefers sites that optimize their visual display for mobile users. 

This applies to several other devices as well. You need to optimize your content to be adjustable or responsive to different mobile sizes.

While optimizing for mobile devices, you must ensure the contents displayed on mobile and desktop are the same to avoid duplicate content and cloaking.

2. Implement effective link-building strategies.

Right from the Jagger update in 2005, Google has been very focused on penalizing sites that have illegally acquired backlinks. This is why it is essential to focus on effective link-building strategies that will earn you links from relevant sites in your niche instead of a half-baked strategy that will get you spammy links.

There are several link-building strategies you can use for your site, including:

  • Broken link building
  • Email outreach
  • Crowdsourced posts
  • Reclaiming broken links
  • Create case studies
  • Charts and graphs
  • Statistics posts
  • Industry surveys

3. Utilize technical SEO.

Most site owners focus more on on-page SEO techniques and work mildly on their technical SEO. All aspects of SEO are essential when it comes to ranking.

Technical SEO helps with the technicalities involved with Google Search, which impact how Google crawls and indexes your website and affects your rankings.

According to Backlinko, the most important aspect of technical SEO includes:

  • Crawling 
  • Indexing
  • Rendering
  • Website architecture

Here are some best practices for technical SEO:

  • Have a flat site structure.
  • Avoid duplicate site versions.
  • Have a consistent URL structure for your web pages.
  • Use an XML sitemap for your website.
  • Always use structured data.
  • Use canonical URLs for similar pages.
  • Use Hreflang for foreign sites.
  • Use HTTPS to secure your website.
  • Fix broken pages on your site.
  • Increase your site’s page speed.
  • Have a mobile-friendly site.
  • Stay up-to-date on technical SEO news.

4. High-quality content.

Knowing that Google now prioritizes user satisfaction, you must design your content to be as valuable as possible.

High-quality content designed to satisfy a user’s query has a higher chance of ranking than content designed for search engines.

Here are some of my best practices for quality content:

  • Reflect E-E-A-T.
  • Carry out thorough keyword research.
  • Streamline your content to a single topic.
  • Optimize your headline.
  • Understand user intent for your keywords.
  • Write comprehensive content.
  • Include visual illustrations and designs.
  • Make your content readable and skimmable.
  • Use appropriate header tags in your posts.
  • Make it easy to understand. 
  • Write a compelling CTA.
  • Edit and proofread your content.
  • Track your rankings and improve your strategies.

FAQs on Google Algorithm

What is Google algorithm?

Google algorithm is an automated, complex ranking system and signals that are used to determine if a page will be more authoritative and relevant to a search query.

How does the Google algorithm work?

Google algorithm considers hundreds of ranking signals, search settings, and context to determine which page out of its indexed cluster is more relevant to a query.

What does Google use to determine top-ranking websites?

Google uses ranking factors like content quality, keyword optimization, mobile-friendliness, page speed, backlinks, structured data, core web vitals, and user experience to determine top-ranking pages.

What are the major Google algorithm updates?

Major Google algorithm updates that have and still affect search results are Panda (2011), Penguin (2012), Hummingbird (2013), Pigeon (2014), Mobilegeddon (2015), RankBrain (2015), Possum (2016), Medic (2018), Fred (2017) and BERT (2019).

What is the latest Google algorithm?

The link spam update is the latest Google algorithm update, and it was released in December 2022 but was completed in January 2023. It uses an AI called SpamBrain to neutralize unnatural, spammy links.

How often are Google algorithms changed?

There are thousands of algorithm changes on Google every year, but Google confirms only the core updates because those are the ones that affect search results.

Final Thoughts

The algorithm is constantly evolving, with Google updating it multiple times yearly to keep up with changing user behavior and new technological advancements. This is why website owners and marketers must stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the algorithm and make necessary adjustments to their website and content strategies.

To leverage the world of SEO as a digital marketer or SEO agency, you need to keep track of the several Google algorithm updates from verified sources and wait to understand how each update affects SEO.

However, the bottom line is that Google focuses more on improving the user experience because the truth remains that Google is more of a document retrieval company. And its primary goal is matching the needed document to the user irrespective of mitigating factors like intent, preference, and context.

No matter how often changes or updates are made to the Google algorithm, the fundamental issues addressed directly or indirectly relate to the user search experience. So, you can not go wrong with ticking off all the tips I’ve discussed.

How well do you track Google algorithm changes and updates?

READ ALSO: A COMPREHENSIVE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO VOICE SEARCH OPTIMIZATION

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