What Happens When Google Releases an Algorithm Update?

If you’ve spent any time tinkering with SEO on your website, you’ve been working with (or against) Google’s algorithms, whether or not you were aware of it. When we talk about these algorithms, what we really mean is the behind-the-scenes technology that Google uses to rank websites. Updates, which are known to happen thousands of times per year, alter the factors used to determine where websites fall when certain terms are searched. The intent is to ensure that users find the most relevant results when they Google something, but the result is an ever-shifting landscape of SEO best practices to monitor.

Managing your SEO strategy is already complicated enough, and it may seem tempting to ignore these updates altogether. But like it or not, while it would be impractical to respond to every single update, no SEO strategy is complete without attention to Google’s core algorithm updates. This habit allows you to adjust your strategy to align with new ranking protocols, keeping your website as visible as possible.

Recent Major Algorithm Updates

As we’ve mentioned, Google tweaks its algorithms thousands of times per year, but the scale of these daily improvements tend to be small. The exception to this pattern are the core updates, which tend to fall every few months. These releases cause the most substantial changes to the ranking process, meaning that they should prompt the most substantial changes to your SEO strategy.

It’s important to note that Google does not always explain the changes made. Instead, webmasters must often analyze drops or rises in traffic to determine if they were impacted, then make changes as the SEO community draws more conclusions about the update. It’s also important not to overreact: oftentimes, drastic drops level off over time as Google refines the new algorithm.

June 2019 Core Update: The recent June update was focused on decreasing the number of results shown from the same website. The new algorithm typically allows only two top results from the same website, meant to increase the diversity of the results shown.

March 2019 Core Update: Very little is known about the March 2019 core update aside from the fact that it affected broad aspects of the search algorithms. Some have guessed that the changes prioritized websites with better user experience design.

August 2018 Core Update (the “Medic” Update): This update was considered especially broad, and although few specific details are available, Google stated that the main changes dealt with improving the relevance of results. Webmasters were advised to study the rater guidelines and focus on putting out quality content if they saw drops. The March update is often called the “Medic” update because the impacts were strongest on medical and wellness websites.

Fred Update: “Fred” isn’t just one update or one algorithm but a sarcastic name given to undisclosed quality improvements. Aside from following general SEO principles and improving content depth and quality, responding to Fred updates is tricky given Google’s reluctance to even confirm that they’ve happened.

Hummingbird Update: The Hummingbird update was one of the most substantial in Google history. It vastly improved Google’s ability to respond to natural, conversational language, including longer, more specific phrases. It also improved the relevance of local results.

Panda Update: The Panda update focused on rewarding unique content and punishing low-quality, filler, or copied content. It impacted more than a tenth of queries.

Where the Experts Come In

When you develop or rework your website, you want to start from an SEO-friendly foundation. While it’s vital to monitor and react to algorithm changes, you can’t do that without first having the fundamentals in place. At Neon Rain Interactive, we are well-versed in Google’s ranking methods, and we’ll make sure that your web presence is visible from the get-go. If you’re ready to experience the difference a reputable web development agency can make, give us a call today at 303-957-3092.

Sources Cited: