What is a Google Algorithm Update?

What is a Google Algorithm Update?

Each year, there are over 400 different algorithm updates made by Google. Each has the potential to affect the ranking of your site in it's search engine. Today we're looking at what an algorithm is, why they are changed and what may happen to your website after an algorithm update.

What is a Search Engine Algorithm?

Google's aim is to provide its users (which is not you as a website owner) with the best possible search engine results. They do this because they want people to choose their search engine over their competitors. The more people who use it, the more exposure for Google Ads users who pay for their advertisements to be shown in Google search engine results pages (SERPs). The more traffic advertisers receive, the more likely they are to continue to pay Google for ads.

In order to provide relevant results, Google uses an algorithm. A search engine algorithm is basically a set of rules which tell the search engine what to do when scanning a website and returning results to a query. While no-one knows exactly what rules are set for an algorthim or how many algorithms there are, they are generally looking for information about:

  • the keywords you've used on your site and where you've put them
  • organic naturally occurring links to your website from other sites
  • the level of mobile responsiveness your site provides

The exact details of what Google look for are unknown, except to Google that is. But it is widely recognised that there are over 400 things. It's also acknowledged that Google performs minor updates to its algorithms at least once a day and up to 500 times per year. Mostly these are minor updates which don't affect a lot of websites, but some a major and cause organic search engine traffic to drop. These updates are made to continually help improve the results a user receives when using the Google search engine.

What Happens During a Google Algorithm Update?

When a search engine changes it's algorithm, the changes and effects can be major or minor. As a website owner, the most common thing you will see is either a drop or a rise in your search engine rankings. That is, your website will either feature more or less in search engine results. This will result in your website having more or less organic traffic from Google. Obviously it's the lack of traffic which we notice the most and which is the most upsetting.

The downside is that Google doesn't publically announce the specifics of what they have done. Instead the SEO experts will do some testing and analysing to figure that one out, but this can take months. What Google will occasionally do is release is that they have made an algorithm change and the date on which it was done. The date is important to know, as you can use this to identify which update affected your website, and as time goes by, use the research about that update to correct your site's SEO.

MOZ keeps a track record of Google algorithm updates, along with information about what each update affected.

What to Do If You Are Affected By An Algorithm Update

The trouble with algorithm updates is that they are out of our control. There's actually nothing you can do to stop them happening, to try and beat Google at its own game. What you can do though is follow good SEO practices, add great content regularly and keep your website relevant for your target audience.

Take a read of our article 8 Easy SEO Tips to Get You Started today!

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Posted: Sunday 16 September 2018



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