Even if you’re fairly new to the world of digital marketing, you’ll know the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is the process of ensuring your website and content features highly on the Google search engine rankings so that more people are able to notice you. However, how often do you actually think about what dictates these rankings?
Sure, backlinks and keywords are important, but that’s barely the tip of the iceberg. Google’s ever-changing algorithm is complex and fed by multiple factors. They update the algorithm every year, and sites that don’t fit the update well enough tend to experience a huge drop in traffic as they are bumped down by Google for noncompliance.
Here are the five most important Google updates that every SEO should be aware of.
Google Mobile-Friendly Update
The mobile-friendly update was introduced by Google in 2015. It assesses sites based on their mobile-friendliness, meaning that any websites which don’t work well on a mobile device were immediately penalized by the algorithm. The positive of this update is that it forced a lot of big websites to finally take steps to become more mobile-friendly, meaning that compatibility is now the norm rather than a nice perk to have. Today, there’s even a mobile-friendly test page on Google to help point you in the right direction.
Penguin was the most comprehensive algorithm update targeting backlinks and link profiles ever. It analyses all of the links on a webpage to ensure that those links are actually related to the content, preventing the use of spammy or irrelevant links that aren’t of value to customers. It’s forced marketers to get smarter over their use and placement of links, with many now utilising the kind of major link-building tools found on GrowthSupermarket as standard practice. Clean links are everything.
The Panda update was one of the most wide-ranging ones ever, with thousands of websites being wiped out over it. It essentially applied comprehensive, subjective criteria of “quality content” on all websites wishing to feature on Google. The new algorithm ensured that any duplicated content would be quickly penalized, as well as any so-called “article spinning”, where existing content is reworded for a different site, was quickly clamped down on. The same rules were also applied to images, which is where many of the problems stemmed from with honest websites that suffered.
The hugely-controversial Hummingbird update was the first attempt by the Google algorithm to get into the mindset of a search engine user. The would collect a huge variety of data from a user in order to best arrange search results based on their personality type and the supposed “intent” behind a user’s search query. This, of course, meant that bigger websites were given an even larger slice of the pie, while smaller ones were squeezed out.
Fred is the most recent of the algorithm updates, and one that rewards UX more than any other. Sites with pop-up ads and aggressive marketing material were quickly bumped down, as were any sites with poor navigation. Fred also promised to punish “thin content”, which means that if a website isn’t informative or useful enough compared to a similar website, the less useful website will be replaced by the more useful site on the search results.
Google’s regular updates can be a nightmare to keep up with, but it’s a necessary part of effective digital marketing. The updates are always done with the user in mind, so think about this before simply complaining that Google is making your job more difficult.