Google Algorithm Updates

Google search on a mobile device

What is the Google Algorithm?

The Google Algorithm is an ever-changing set of rules that utilises both machine learning and real people to create the best user search experience. Billions of items of data feed into the algorithm to provide users of Google Search with websites that are useful and relevant to their queries.

All sorts of information feeds into the algorithm, from demographics and user behaviour, to current trends and website functionality. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t like to provide too much information on what the algorithm looks for in a website, so its often up to business owners and SEO experts to research and take educated guesses. Fortunately, there’s a lot of information out there providing plenty of clues.

Updates to the Algorithm

Google makes regular updates to its algorithm for various reasons. Unscrupulous SEO agencies may try and play the system, resulting in spammy results that a user doesn’t want to see, and an update can help penalise such practices. Another reason may be that user behaviour and interest is shifting, and Google needs to update its algorithm to show websites that line up with these changes. One of the biggest changes in recent years, for example, was Mobile First, which was in response to the majority of search users now using a mobile device rather than a desktop computer or laptop.

Updates come in all shapes and forms. Some are small and won’t be announced by Google, while others will have a big impact and will be revealed months in advance of them going live. Bigger updates will usually affect quite a number of websites and website owners often see big changes in their ranking positions.

Some site will go back to normal after a bit of uncertainty, but some will see a more long-term negative (or positive) effect because their website no longer does what Google wants it to do. Dramatic changes – and sometimes even small changes – can have a big effect on both your organic and paid traffic from Google.

It’s because of these changes and the possible knock-on effects that it’s important to keep on top of any algorithm updates. Unless you have a big interest in the subject, you only really need to keep an eye on the bigger updates, as tiny ones will often pass you by without any sign that they’ve occurred. If you can, be reactive to any upcoming changes, and adjust your website before the update is implemented. That way, you’ll be ahead of the game and will hopefully mitigate any negative effects, and may even see a boost in your rankings right from the start!

Read about some of the most recent updates and how they may affect your website: