Have you ever wondered why it is easy to find out what you are looking for over Google? You just have to put in a few words for your query, and the search engine will give you accurate and appropriate results. Anyone familiar with the world of the internet and search engines has heard about the Google search algorithm. But, people do not understand the exact meaning of this term and are unaware of its processes. So, let us learn what Google search algorithms are!
What is Google Algorithm?
In general terms, the algorithm is a set of rules with a systematic procedure to solve a problem. Google algorithm also represents a system, which helps in retrieving data from the Google search engines. These algorithms work in combination to provide the user with the best and most relevant answers to their queries.
For example, if you search Google for “cute and funny animal videos,” you will get several results instantly to choose from them.
Google changes its search algorithm frequently but does not necessarily make it public. All these google algorithm updates are aimed at improving and enhancing a user’s experience. It helps in providing the websites higher rankings in search engines as per the rules. SEO professionals work on these set of rules to get a prominent site position. Some of the factors that aid a page in gaining visibility and improving its ability to appear in search engines are:
- Use of the keywords at appropriate places, such as meta description, headers, and title
- The amount and authenticity of organic links to the web page
- Human quality and the engagement of audiences to the content
- Mobile-friendly sites for use on smart devices
Google algorithm includes much more elements than the ones mentioned above. It seeks the pages with relevant, appropriate, and high-quality content and raises them in the ranking. These rankings are not absolute; they do fluctuate with the change in content on web pages. That is why search engine optimisation of websites is a lucrative business nowadays.
How Does Google Algorithm Work?
Although there are various ways in which Google can rank a website, some of the areas are of crucial value. These significant factors help in assigning Google PageRank and return apt results for the questions.
Five of these critical factors are:
Interpretation of the query:
To retrieve data, it is essential for Google to understand the exact meaning of the query. It interprets the intent behind the search and provides results for it. Also, Google offers similar and relevant searches along with the main question.
Google search results are also affected by the location and preference of the users. Areas influence the results and show appropriate searches as per the individual circumstances.
The page’s relevance to the query:
Google looks for the most relevant and apt results for the queries. It indexes websites on the basis of their relevance to the content it aims to present. Thus, your use of keywords plays a major role in it.
Human quality and usability:
Websites with easy navigation and user-friendly interfaces are most likely to rank up in Google. It includes security and privacy, page speed, and responsiveness. Google also takes into account these factors while indexing websites.
Google has millions of websites and pages available. So, it has to filter out and prioritise sites as per their content and the value they provide to the audiences. Thus, websites that demonstrate authority and expertise rank higher in the search engine. Moreover, it removes websites from the notable position that has used black hat techniques to manipulate results.
Google Algorithm Update
Google keeps updating its algorithm and makes small changes here and there. It frequently revises its algorithm, almost on a daily basis. Most of these changes go unnoticed by the people, as they are slight and little.
However, they draw attention when Google brings significant core updates in its algorithm each year. These algorithm updates are also given specific names. So, you can categorise the Google algorithm updates in two ways:
- Minor or small updates
- Core algorithm updates
Important Google Algorithm Updates
Every year, Google changes and revises its core algorithm. These algorithm updates have given a structure to google search and enhanced user experience in one way or the other. Over the years, Google has made thousands of changes in its algorithms. However, some of these updates affected the search engine result pages (SERPs) significantly. Some of these updates are:
The Panda algorithm update is an attempt by Google to reduce the ranking of the websites with low-quality, irrelevant, and plagiarised content. It aims to promote those sites that offer unique and engaging content to the audiences. To get a prominent position in search results, websites had started doing keyword stuffing within the good for nothing content.
Panda update was an initiative to classify web pages and content on their quality. It included the human quality and relevant content for the users as a significant factor to decide the ranking. Due to this update, websites had to upgrade their low-grade content, remove any extraneous and inapplicable content, and improve the user experience of the website.
In response to criticism over Google’s ranking of insignificant content on search engines, the Panda algorithm update was launched in 2011. It lowered the ranking of invaluable sites. This hit hard the SEO industry and brought a change in articles publishing over the internet. It introduced several new processes for website rankings and enhanced human quality.
With each update, Google tries to up its game and bring something new to change the algorithm. In 2012, Google launched an update that targeted the manipulative and web-spamming links. It helped in cutting down the devious and irrelevant link building practices. This update is known as the Penguin algorithm update by Google. The story behind the origin of this name is still unclear.
The rationale behind the Penguin update is to filter out the low-quality and over-optimised websites that ranked higher. Before, the large number link volume helped in determining website position. Due to this, various websites started appearing in a prominent position that practised link spamming.
Penguin update worked against the black hat techniques that try to alter search rankings with manipulation. This algorithm minimized the effects of these techniques. Penguin started promoting the websites with authoritative and relevant links. It only deals with the links that indicate and direct to the website in question; but, the outgoing links were ignored.
The new update by Google in the year 2013 left a massive impact on the Google search. This update was termed as Hummingbird algorithm, which changed the search engine results for the users. It offers overall, apt, and more appropriate results for Google queries.
Before the Hummingbird algorithm update, the search engine provided details for the exact keywords you put in the search. It did not deviate from your asked question, be it a single word or a long-tail keyword. Due to this, the results were always selective, to the point, and thin. It did not offer a chance to study a topic or query in-depth. Google had a hard time distinguishing between two similar yet different searches as per their intent.
After the Hummingbird algorithm update, the Google searched reformed for the benefit of the users. It can now fine-tune itself and retrieve much pertinent information for the user’s questions. You can add in your topic, and Google will recognise the intent and understand its context. It can present precise and exact answers for your searches.
Hummingbird tries to look for similar content that can help you. It does not leave you lacking information; instead, it collects details of the related topics and presents them to you. Also, it gauges your intent and allows users to search for their content freely. Thus, it has brought a revolution in interpreting the users’ search queries.
A Google algorithm update that reaped benefits for the local businesses is the Pigeon algorithm. It changed the local results and improved the rankings for local searches. Local businesses became prominent with their information in local searches.
Pigeon algorithm update was launched in 2014 with an aim to enhance the visibility of local businesses. It helped in building the organic presence of local sites in the searches pertaining to their area. Also, it assisted in finding more accurate and high-quality local search results. Before, brands or popular businesses were ranked higher in the Google search. However, this Google update gave an opportunity to small businesses to come forward and show up in the search results.
With this update, Google also worked on Google Map to enhance its signals and locations. It utilised the map’s distance and area locality to give an idea about the local and relevant results to the users. Hence, the search results showed local searches as per their nearness to the users.
Google has done a series of Pigeon algorithm updates to enhance its effectiveness continuously. It faced some challenges in the beginning; however, Google resolved these problems over time. Google corrected all the glitches and hitches of this update after its launch.
One of the most notable Google algorithm updates to date is RankBrain. It does not only affect and determine the search results but also uses the mechanism of machine learning. RankBrain, in itself, is a system that assists Google in understanding the intent of users’ search questions. It ran across all those queries that were left by Google and provided a new angle to Google search.
RankBrain is basically the machine learning version of the Hummingbird algorithm update. Hummingbird helped Google in reading the characters and searched suitable results for the words mentioned in the query. It had no concern with the entity and accuracy of those results; it only focused on the relevance. But, RankBrain provided a Machine ID to structure and unify searched characters.
Each entity has its own unique and separate Machine ID. It helps Google in making connections and provides enough context to find the relevant results. So, Google started understanding and interpreting search results in better terms and found similar searches for various questions for accuracy.
An essential Google algorithm update that made changes to enhance the mobile search results and rankings is Mobilegeddon. In 2015, Google initiated the mobile-friendly update, as it is now necessary due to the increase in mobile usage.
Mobilegeddon Google update brought several changes to make a website mobile-friendly for the users. It introduced many changes, from page size to font size, for the improvement in results. Google also briefed the audiences about these changes and pointed out all the differences.
This Google algorithm update affected the search engine results on mobile devices. It changed all the web pages across the globe and impacted their rankings. Also, it was more useful to the web pages rather than the websites. The reason behind this update was to provide the users with relevant and rapid results for mobile searches. All the mobile-friendly web pages were ranked higher and came in a prominent position, regardless of their content.
Google brought a change globally with this new update and shifted its algorithm to accommodate mobile users. By doing so, Google improved users’ experience and adapted to the switch from desktop to smart devices.
Sometimes, google does not feel like confirming or elaborating its latest algorithm updates. This happened in 2017 when there were speculations regarding a new algorithm update. Google had started targeting low-quality web content that promoted ads and generated revenue. Google did not want to talk about this update; but, later on, it confirmed it by naming this update, Fred.
Fred does not refer to any specific algorithm. Instead, it is a term used for all algorithm updates related to the quality of the websites. These updates were unconfirmed by Google, but the professionals notice these quality changes. Further, it is a series of updates that targeted sites that violated the guidelines by Webmaster.
Fred is an available name now for the various updates Google does to update the core algorithm. Most of these updates deal with quality issues and go unnoticed. However, it can significantly affect the ranking of many websites. Google has not revealed the information about what they target in these updates. So, SEO professionals would not know how to recover the sites. You can only identify “Fred” if a large number of websites have been impacted.
Catching these algorithm updates and understanding the changes they bring is not an easy task. Google search algorithm influences the search results and impacts the website rankings. So, it is essential to learn about these updates and the way they work. SEO professionals and experts can help you optimise your website to rank well in the search engines. You can always contact one if you are looking for a strategy to bring more traffic to your sites!