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The History of Google Algorithm Updates

With Google reportedly carrying out around 600 updates to its search algorithm each year, it’s fair to say there have been several major updates over the years making waves in the SEO community. Being an SEO agency in Hull, we like to stay on top of the latest updates to ensure our SEO strategies are always bringing in the best results for our clients. In this blog, we’ve highlighted the main updates that have changed the way Google’s algorithm works over the past few years.

Panda

Introduced in February 2011, the Google Panda algorithm update was released to filter out websites with poor quality content from the organic search engine results, rewarding high-quality websites by ranking them higher. This meant websites with weak pages, thin or low-value content, duplicate content, high ad to content ratio, poor user-generated content and a lack of authority were penalized by Google.

Penguin

Penguin was announced by Google in April 2012 as an effort to down-rank websites that used link spam, keyword stuffing and manipulative link building practices. Since 2016, this update has been part of Google’s core search engine ranking algorithm meaning it works in real time.

Pirate

With piracy being a significant problem in the digital era, the Pirate update launched in 2012 as a way to diminish pirated sites with copyright violations from the SERPs to prevent pirated material being easily accessible to users.

Exact Match Domain

The Exact Match Domain update was launched later in 2012 to prevent poor quality websites from ranking well purely because they used words in their domain names that matched the user’s search terms. With this major update, SEO specialists and website developers could no longer buy domains with exact match keyword phrases and build sites with thin content that held little value.

Hummingbird

Announced in September 2013, Google’s Hummingbird update changed the search results landscape by improving the way Google interpreted search queries to provide better results that match the searcher’s intent. This intelligent algorithm update allowed websites to rank for a query even if it didn’t contain the exact keywords searched by the user. Thanks to Hummingbird, Google’s understanding of both local and conversational search was improved, meaning SEO specialists could adapt their local SEO and voice search SEO tactics.

Pigeon

The Pigeon update came into force in July 2014 to improve Google’s local search capabilities by enhancing both Google Search and Google Maps. This update provided users with more localised, relevant results based on proximity, resulting in one of the biggest changes to Google’s local organic search results to date.

Mobile Friendly

Think about how much you use a mobile device to browse the internet. In 2015, Google adapted to our mobile browsing habits by rolling out a mobile-friendly update that ensured mobile-friendly websites ranked higher than those with poor mobile usability. This led to a big shift in the SEO world, as mobile SEO and responsive website design became the newest trend. Having a mobile-friendly website is crucial not only for ranking well in the SERPs but for providing your customers with a positive browsing experience, which is why our website design team believe in a mobile-first approach.

RankBrain

Google RankBrain is part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, working to better understand the meaning behind search queries in order to serve up the best-matching search results. RankBrain is known as Google’s third most important ranking factor, and the best way to optimise your website for this update is to write good, natural content.

Possum

Launched in 2016, the Possum update ensured that local results varied depending on the searcher’s exact location, providing even more accurate results for local search queries. To stay at the top of Google, improving your overall local SEO and paying attention to your Google My Business profile is crucial.

Fred

One of the latest major updates to be confirmed by Google, Fred targets websites with low-quality content created for the purpose of generating ad revenue. The ‘Fred’ update is a quality update to improve Google’s Search Quality Guidelines, and these types of updates happen quite often.

As SEO specialists based in Hull, we’re always keeping an eye out for new Google algorithm updates which can affect SEO. If you’d like advice on how you can optimise your website through SEO to climb to the top of Google, give our SEO experts a call on 01482 333833.

Ends.

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