It has been almost ten years now since Google launched its campaign to improve the quality of search. Since then, this search engine giant has tweaked and refined its algorithms almost 500 to 600 times per year in order to provide its users with the most relevant search results possible. And, while not every algorithm has an impact, others are game-changers for those in the search engine optimisation (SEO) industry.
When you are working on an SEO strategy, staying up-to-date is vital for the success of your campaign. Google’ algorithm updates are an important part of SEO and should be followed and monitored in order to keep your strategy as updated and relevant as possible.
Before we dive a little deeper, an algorithm can be understood as a set of rules or a certain formula that the search engine uses to determine the relevance of a webpage or website. f this all sounds a little confusing, below we break down some fo Google’s major algorithms into simple terms for a better understanding.
Panda was the very first algorithm update that transformed the SEO landscape and which started the white-hat SEO revolution. This algorithm targeted websites which had low-quality content that was seen as “spammy”, and lowered their search engine results page (SERP) ranking.
The aspects of your website and digital marketing campaigns that you need to look out for in order to meet the guidelines of the Panda algorithm are outlined below:
- Internal and external duplicate content
- Keyword stuffing in webpages as well as other content
- Thin content
- Spam generated by users on sites which allow users access to the backend of the website
- Irrelevant or unrelated content
This Google Algorithm relates mostly to content, so be sure to look at all of your website pages and change or remove any duplicate content you might see.
Soon after launching the Panda update, Google launched another update called Penguin. This update focused on targeting “linkspam” tactics or manipulative link building practices. Link building has always been a powerful form of SEO marketing but, in the past, Google had no way of determining which links were spam and which were not.
To meet the guidelines Penguin, look out for the following aspects on your website and within your SEO strategy:
- Links to your website from “spammy” websites
- Links from sites with topics irrelevant to your business or industry
- Paid links
- Links that have overly optimised anchor text
Before Penguin was released, link volume played a prominent part in determining the score of a website after Google had crawled and indexed it. This meant that some low-quality sites with a high volume of links appeared in higher positions than others.
Exact Match Domain
In the same year that the Panda and Penguin updates were released, some SEO marketers were finding ways in which to improve the rankings of poor-quality websites. This was done by using the exact match search queries in their domain names.
You will need to look out for the following to avoid being penalised by this algorithm:
- Exact match domains with thin content
- Thin content on your website
- Exact match domains with irrelevant content
Before the Exact Match Domain update was released, when Google saw a query and a domain name that matched it exactly, that domain would receive a higher ranking.
Hummingbird is also known as Rankbrain and is a Google algorithm that is geared towards understanding the intent behind a search query. The three main components of the Hummingbird algorithm include conversational search, human search, and local search. It helps Google to process unique and unfamiliar search queries.
In order for your content to be found by Hummingbird, you will need to look out for the following issues:
- Overly targeting exact-match keywords
- Using unnatural language in your content or website
- Not having query-specific or relevant content
Using long-tail keywords, related terms, and even synonyms will help you to improve your performance according to the Hummingbird/Rankbrain algorithm.
Another important Google Algorithm that you do need to pay attention to is Fred. It is geared towards penalising websites which have excessive ads, obvious monetisation, and thin or low-value content. Google only wants to provide useful, relevant, and valuable content to users, which is what the Fred update aims to achieve.
To avoid being penalised by this update, you will need to monitor and improve the following:
- Low-value or irrelevant content
- Excessive and unrelated ads
- Aggressive monetisation
- User experience issues
By improving and updating your pages with thin content and removing excessive ads, you will have a better chance of avoiding being penalised by Fred.
Survive Algorithm Changes
Google algorithm updates might sound a little intimidating and confusing, but if you keep your website updated, provide relevant content, and audit your website on a regular basis for any issues, you will be able to avoid any penalties or ranking changes.
If you would like professional help with improving your website and your SEO ranking, speak to NetMechanic today to find out how we can help you.