Google updates aim to enhance search results and penalize sites that use shady tactics. To secure your ranking, it’s important that your website keeps up with the latest Google Algorithm updates.
Ever asked yourself why the Google Algorithm keeps changing and updating?
Most online users don’t realize that the Google Algorithm is altered 500 – 600 times a year. It’s an ever-evolving activity that is probably one of the most monitored processes in the world. Any slight fluctuation in it sends eCommerce businesses around the globe scrambling to keep up.
But why? Some of the changes seem so minor! In fact, Google has only put out four major algorithm updates; Penguin, Hummingbird, Panda, and Pigeon. In between these major updates, however, Google engineers also create minor algorithm modifications that might have an impact on your website’s ranking in search results (those fall under the 500 – 600 modifications mentioned above).
Before we dive deeper into the effect of Google algorithm updates, let’s make sure we have a firm grasp on how a search engine algorithm is defined.
A Google algorithm is the formula Google uses to find, rank and return relevant search results. It locates the most relevant web pages for a particular set of keywords or search terms. To provide more effective results and to prevent people from gaming the system, Google uses a variety of criteria that change over time.
Why Google Algorithm Updates are Necessary
Enhanced Rankings for Well-Crafted Content
Before Google Panda was released, poor quality content ranked well in search results. Writers created 300-word articles that weren’t very helpful, placed some high PR links in them, and sat back to watch them rank high. But the Panda update changed that. Nowadays, the longer the article, the better. In-depth, compelling content currently dominates search engine results – rewarding sites that actually care about keeping their audience informed, entertained, and educated.
Google is more likely to give you a great web page score if you consistently post new, high-quality content on your page. This must be a continuous effort, however, as over the length of time, your score will die out and your page will need fresh content. If you’re consistently updating your page with informative and relevant content, expect improved rankings and more organic visitors from Google.
Back in the day, Google rewarded sites which incorporated a ton of keyword-rich anchor text and links. But as SEO has evolved, building links has become only a minor part of the equation. Now, the Google algorithm looks at the total package and focuses on overall brand-building.
Commitment to Users
The main goal of Google is to assist users in finding information quickly and easily. The most recent Panda updates help strengthen Google’s commitment to its users.
A Rundown of 2017 Google Algorithm Updates
3/8/17 – Fred
This major update was reported to have widely affected the entire SEO community. It seemed to target sites with low-quality content that were focused more on sales than on helping their audience. Reports also indicated it may be a spam algorithm update, based on affected links. This update is affectionately but unofficially called Fred because of Google’s Gary Illyes, who joked about the update using the name.
2/6/17 – Unnamed Major Update
This unnamed update forced ranking changes based on keywords which drove some website rankings up or down 10 to 20 spots – sometimes in a matter of hours. Minor adjustments continued for an entire week, rolling out core ranking updates that targeted thin content, user experience barriers, and advertising deception.
2/1/17 – Unnamed Major Update
On February 1st, Google released an unnamed major update that tweaked how Penguin detects and discounts spammy links. Many in the SEO community, especially in the black hat community, noticed this change immediately. Some complained that their private blog networks weren’t working properly while others claimed Google was slow in detecting new quality links.
1/10/17 – Intrusive Interstitial Penalty
After a rare 5-month advanced warning, Google released their Intrusive Interstitial Penalty to punish intrusive interstitials and annoying pop-ups that affect the mobile user experience. Google did issue this change in advance but at the time stated that it would only affect interstitials that appear when a user clicks from Google’s mobile search to a web page. It didn’t affect desktop or any alterations made to a site.
How to Prepare for Future Google Algorithm Updates
1. Quality Content Matters
Always post top-quality content on your site. Your readers will thank you for it and Google will notice. If your page is filled with cluttered content or provides a poor user experience, don’t expect your page to rank well. You can always count on stellar content to positively represent your brand.
If your website content lacks one of the following, you may want to make improvements:
- Quality Trumps Quantity – It’s not just about what you put into your articles. The quality of your videos and images also matter. Refrain from using stock photos. Instead, encourage your team to create original and post worthy images. For videos, create clips that are short but compelling. Stay consistent in your messaging and quality and be rewarded with an increase in visitor engagement.
- Original and Relevant – Ever feel tempted to repost older or borrowed content? Doing this hurts your site and will prevent it from ranking on the first page. If you feel older content would be helpful in some way, you must first update it thoroughly with new information. Your content should offer something valuable -one that users can’t find elsewhere. Don’t suffer site penalizations from duplicate or unoriginal content.
- Audience First – Your audience matters so write for them before anything else. Each visit to your site comes from a real person, a person with a need. Make sure you deliver something of great value to your readers and they will keep you in mind and maybe even bookmark your site. A website that caters to its audience earns a loyal following and repeat traffic.
2. Relevant Links
A few links from a trusted source will always be better than many links from questionable or irrelevant sources. Avoid ranking penalties by avoiding spammy links.
The tips below will help you avoid link problems:
- Link Exchanges Can Be Damaging
Sometimes, link exchanges with other sites can be complicated. Make sure the site you’re exchanging links with has a solid reputation. Sometimes, the unintended consequence of a sketchy exchange will result in your pages being linked to thousands of other sites. Be careful to avoid such linking as it signals a red flag with Google. Fixing such errors is frustrating and time-consuming.
- Buying Links
It’s no secret. Google has emphasized a number of times that buying links or participating in link schemes can open the door for heavy site penalties. These paid links are considered link spam which is something that you should avoid.
- Optimized Anchor Text
Do Google a favor and use natural links. A website that’s heavy with links that use exact keywords as the anchor text will be counted as a questionable or spam site. When it comes to links on your pages, they should have a natural combination of optimized and unoptimized anchor text.
3. Stay updated for future changes
It is essential that your website stays up-to-date with future changes. There are times when Google will make announcements on what to expect for future updates and other times when it’s a sudden change. Keep up with these changes by using one of the many online tools for tracking Google Algorithms or subscribe to a website that discusses and shares the latest SEO news. If you constantly apply the techniques from the latest updates to your site, your business will avoid most of the dreadful penalties. This will give you a significant advantage over the competition who aren’t on the ball.
By now we all know that change is part of owning an online business. As the ranking algorithm continues to change, your brand should be keeping in step. To prepare your site for future algorithm updates, focus on the basics, like creating quality content, attracting relevant links, and following the best practices in SEO. Do things the right way the first time and you won’t find yourself with double the work later. Doing all these things will boost your rankings and help your business establish authority in its industry.