Google is known for tweaking its algorithm updates quite often. Sometimes the frequency touches thousand small updates that almost go unnoticed. But regardless of its size and capacity, every algorithm update disrupts the existing SEO practices and forces marketers to mend strategies. Google algorithm updates have an accurate timeline since their first inception.
Google Algorithm Update Timeline
The article is an attempt to look into major Google algorithm updates. It will follow the reasons why they were introduced and what should we do to respond to these updates for minimum impact. Here we go:
Panda update was launched in 2011 to punish websites that involve in different sort of content spam including copied content, thin or plagiarized, user generated spam such as comment spam and keyword stuffing. Google has a straightforward method to track content spam using Panda.
Google assigns quality score to the website web pages. This quality score is further taken into the consideration as a ranking factor. Above mentioned spam factors affect the quality score that results in drop in ranking.
Back in January 2016 Google incorporated panda into its core algorithm. Now panda rolls out automatically with every core update. This is why panda penalty and recovery now happen faster. If you find instances of keyword stuffing, thin content and plagiarized content, fix it immediately to escape panda penalty.
Penguin Update: (April 24, 2012)
Penguin update was launched on April 24, 2012. It penalized websites that indulged in spam link building practices such as toxic or irrelevant links and links with over-optimized anchor text. The update downgrades the websites in terms of ranking whose backlinks appear unnatural.
The aim of this update was to put an end to spam link building services such as paid links and links farms. To escape the penguin penalty, constantly monitor your link profile. Run regular link audits to see link profile growth. Stay vigilant about any unusual spike in suspicious links.
Hummingbird Update (August 22, 2013)
Besides Panda update Google also launched Humming bird algorithm on August 22, 2013 to tame malpractices of Keyword stuffing and low-quality content. With Hummingbird algorithm in place, Google made headway to better interpret search queries and offer refined search results that match searcher intent.
With Hummingbird algorithm it’s possible to rank pages for a search query that even doesn’t contain the exact terms entered. Google made it possible with natural language processing based on latent semantic indexing.
As keywords are imminent to Hummingbird algorithm don’t stick to exact keywords only. Rather, carefully analyze related searches, synonyms and co-occurring terms too. You may also take help from Google Related Searches and Google Related Questions as well.
Mobile Update (April 21, 2015)
The update was rolled out to down rank websites that don’t have their mobile versions and lacks at offering good user experience. With this roll out Google changed the goalpost from desktop sites to mobile websites. Now Google considers mobile usability as a core ranking signal. The search giant ranks websites on how fast and user-friendly their mobile versions are.
You can prepare your website for mobile search update. Optimize your website for mobile devices. Your focus should be on usability. Conduct regular audits for Google’s mobile-friendly and page speed to find page bottlenecks for further improvements.
Medic Update: (May 4, 2018)
The Medic update was rolled out to control YMYL websites flooded with low authority content. The update was mainly focused at Your Money Your Life (YMYL) websites where content was not aligned with Google’s E-A-T guidelines. The update affected those websites that explicitly covered exhaustive content related to finance, law, education and lifestyle).
There is no proven remedy to Medic update. However, experts believe that hiring niche writers to write credible content for such websites may help. Growing your link profile by acquiring quality backlinks can be helpful too. Take help of SEO tools like SEMRush to run complete link audit.
BERT Update: (October 22, 2019)
Bert is latest in update in the list launched on October 22, 2019. The update aimed at penalizing websites with poorly written out of context content. To understand the search queries and user intent better Google uses natural language processing technology.
Natural language processing helps Google to interpret text, identify entities and relationships between entities. The key idea behind the roll out is to force marketers write engaging, high quality and fluff free content copy that binds.
With Google core updates search engine giant run smaller improvements on previous Google updates to adjust post ranking shifts. There are exactly no timelines for these updates and webmasters have no way to unearth which parts of search these algorithms are intended to improve.
There is no ideal opinion what to do in case of core updates and how to track the overall effect. You can however track SERP history for the key phrases (money, long tail and short tail keywords).
As soon you get to know that an update is rolling out, check the slump or surge in your competitors’ ranking and discover the possible factors causing this.