Google Major Updates – The main Ones over the years

Google Major Updates – The main Ones over the years

A guide to Google organic search algorithms

Google regularly changes its search algorithm. Whilst most changes are minor, the search giant does implement major changes once in a while. Even the smallest changes can have an impact on rankings and website traffic. The company doesn’t name or even confirm some of its changes. At one point, some experts claimed to have a noticed an update related to e-commerce but Google never confirmed this.

In April 2015, the company brought in a major update to mobile search, penalising websites that weren’t mobile-friendly and rewarding those that were. Let’s take a look at some of Google’s most high-profile updates over the years.

1. Penguin.

Penguin was brought into punish sites that had a number of unnatural and over-optimised links. It was introduced in 2012 and penalised sites that had manipulative back-link profiles. Sites were penalised for having a high number of exact match anchor texts and links from article directories. Rich anchor texts links were also punished, which was seen as a controversial move as these links were used for targeting and ranking keywords.

Sites have been advised to look at Google’s Disavow Backlinks guide to stop bad third-party links linking to you. They have also been advised to avoid black hat techniques like pay-for-link and been encouraged to create good quality content to win Google over. The company’s Matt Cutts said sites producing lots of high-quality content had no need to fear the update.

2. Panda

The Panda update was used to penalise sites with thin, poor-quality content. It was released in 2011. Poor-quality content meant auto-generated, duplicated or uninformative content, whilst thin referred to short, unnecessarily pages. Some of these pages featured a significant number of ads. Google also brought in an update to penalise over-optimised content in 2012. This meant pages with useful content were treated more favourably than pages with average content but good search engine optimisation.

The company released Panda 4.0 in 2014. It estimated that around 7.5% of English queries would see an impact. Matt Cutts said these updates were brought in to encourage sites to post compelling content worthy of the print media.

3. Hummingbird

Hummingbird was a complete overhaul of the company’s search algorithm. It was announced in August 2013. It was a full overhaul as opposed to a simple update. Hummingbird was designed to incorporate semantic search so the search engine could detect the true meaning behind what was being typed in. Hummingbird pays more attention to every word in a search query, as opposed to particular words.

To make the most of Hummingbird, businesses need to adapt to and understand semantic search. This means businesses must work harder to give accurate questions to answers and become a trusted, high-quality source for important information. They must identify the kind of things searchers will type in, what kind of information they are looking for and think about the questions their customers are asking.

4. Pigeon

Pigeon was designed to change the way Google handles and interprets local results. Google uses IP addresses to provide results based on searchers’ locations. It’s said that around half of all searches reference a location. The result is that all sorts of factors have an even bigger impact on local ranking than before.

Businesses are being encouraged to ensure their contact details and other key information can be found on leading directories. They are also being told to ensure customer leave reviews, as positive feedback on the main reviews sites will also impact on results. You should make sure all your social media profiles feature not just the city you are in but the neighbourhood, street name and postcode etc.

Companies should keep up to date with all the latest updates in order to benefit from the changes and avoid being penalised. This will ensure their customers can find them when they require relevant information and need to use their services.

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