LATEST GOOGLE SEO CHANGES

Matthew Carter
Hello friends, my name is Matthew Carter. I’m a professional link builder for a large SEO agency in New York City.

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PORTFOLIO

Google confirms its long-awaited Page Experience update has started rolling out. Sites should not expect to see drastic changes as a result of this update, Google says, and any sudden drops or spikes should be mitigated by the gradual rollout process. The rollout will be completed by the end of August 2021.

Some webmasters reported changes starting around Halloween, perhaps indicating an (unconfirmed) Google update. But there was little evidence of a significant update here. The more likely cause of the chatter was spillover from the August broad core algorithm update and Google ramping up its use of neural matching.

In its early years, Google only made a handful of updates to its algorithms. Now, Google makes thousands of changes every year.

June 10, 2021.

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter that a broad core algorithm update was about to be released. Sullivan also noted that some planned improvements weren’t quite ready for this update, so the parts that weren’t ready will be rolled out as part of second, related broad core algorithm update, scheduled for July.

On June 2, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan tweeted that Google would be releasing a new broad core algorithm update on June 3. The next day, Google confirmed the update was live and would be rolling out to its various data centers over the coming days. As is the case with any broad core algorithm update, Google tells us there is nothing specific to fix because a core update encompasses a broad range of factors.

On June 10, Pandu Nayak, Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, published a post on The Keyword blog. In it, he discussed Google’s work towards improving the algorithm to demote sites that “employ exploitative removals practices” and “predatory practices.” He also shared a link people can use to report online harassment.

Google announced the BERT Update, calling it the biggest change to Google search in the past 5 years. Google uses BERT models to better understand search queries. Google said this change impacted both search rankings and featured snippets and BERT (which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) will be used on 10 percent of U.S. English searches.

Google confirms a core algorithm update, the December 2020 Core Update, is rolled out on December 3, 2020. This is the third core algorithm update of the calendar year. A fair amount of time has passed since the last core update, compared to the average time between these types of updates.

Google’s algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query. The search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking factors to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

Read more about this update below.

October 31, 2018.

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter that Google would be releasing a broad core algorithm update. About 90 minutes later, he announced the update was underway and would take 1-2 weeks to completely roll out.

Algorithm trackers and industry chatter indicated some sort of unconfirmed update took place on and before this date. However, unlike other updates, mostly positive changes in rankings were being reported.

Google announced an algorithm update aimed at identifying and nullifying link spam was beginning to roll out. Google warned that any sites taking part in link spam tactics could see ranking changes – with sponsored, guest, and affiliate content most likely to be impacted. Google said the update should be fully rolled out in “at least” two weeks and will impact multiple languages.

Google’s Danny Sullivan announced via a tweet that a broad core algorithm update was about to be released. Google again provided the same guidance as for all other recent broad core algorithm updates.

Google’s Danny Sullivan tweeted that BERT was beginning its worldwide rollout, and included the following languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Azeri, Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified & Taiwan), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Kazakh, Khmer, Korean, Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian Malay (Brunei Darussalam & Malaysia), Malayalam, Maltese, Marathi, Mongolian, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, and Vietnamese.

November 17, 2021.

According to a tweet from Google Search Liasion, a spam update was rolled out from November 3 – 11, 2021 as a part of their regular work to improve search results. They suggested in their announcement that webmasters should continue following Webmaster Guidelines.

Google’s Public Liaison for Search, Danny Sullivan, announced via Twitter that Passage Ranking officially launched for English-language queries in the United States. According to Google: “This change doesn’t mean we’re indexing individual passages independently of pages. We’re still indexing pages and considering info about entire pages for ranking. But now we can also consider passages from pages as an additional ranking factor….”

Google’s Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter an algorithm update targeted at fighting spam was rolling out to search results. The rollout of the update was to be completed the same day. He added that a second spam update would follow within a week. Google revealed no specific details on what this update was targeting.

Google Search Liaison announced via Twitter that the second part of their spam update has begun on June 28th and will likely be completed on the same day. The original announcement referred to a post on the Google Search Central Blog, updated in April 2021, on how Google fought Search spam in 2020.

Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter the release of a global broad core algorithm update. SEJ confirmed this update is particularly important and one of the biggest Google updates in years. Sullivan once again recommended following the guidance it provided following the March 9, 2018 update.

Most of these updates are so slight that they go completely unnoticed. However, on occasion, the search engine rolls out major algorithmic updates that significantly impact the SERPs such as:

The 2017 Update, nicknamed “the hawk,” swept on the scene and corrected the Possum update that had inadvertently unfairly impacted local rankings.

The so-called “link spam update” rolled out on July 26, 2021. It is a more comprehensive attempt by Google to nullify spammy links across the web and multiple languages.

The Google 2017 “Hawk Update slightly rectified the negative impacts of the Possum update.”

Google’s advice to websites remains consistent: with an emphasis on high-quality content and user-oriented web services, rather than link manipulation, keyword stuffing, or otherwise black hat SEO, websites will see themselves rise in the rankings.

When a new Penguin Update is released, sites that have taken action to remove bad links (such as through the Google disavow links tool or to remove spam) may regain rankings. New sites not previously caught might get trapped by Penguin. “False positives,” sites that were caught by mistake, may escape.

Google Local August 2017 Hawk Update.

The April 2018 core update, like other updates, was aimed at improving the end-user experience by delivering the most relevant content for search queries.

In 2016, when Google dropped its RankBrain Algorithm on the world, the SEO community was agog. This was a major changeup in the way Google processed search results.

The Google Page Experience Update is revolutionary in the history of Google updates as Google gave us the information about the update LONG in advance. After May of 2021, Google began to officially count user experience as a metric by which they rank websites.

Google launched the Penguin Update in April 2012 to better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, particularly those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.

Google has a long history of famous algorithm updates, search index changes, and refreshes. Below is a history of the major Google search algorithm updates.

Google, catching wind of the confusion, quickly jumped on social media to right the wrong. On Twitter, they wrote, “Our name of this update is March 2019 Core Update.” Not loquacious, but certainly to the point.

How does Google determine user experience on your site? Several factors are included under the umbrella of “Core Web Vitals.” Factors that the Google algorithm will consider when judging how user-friendly a web page include…

The Possum Update of 2016, which we’ll get into a little more detail further down, was intended to improve SERP relevancy by eliminating redundant search results from the SERPs. To summarize, some local business owners were being eliminated by Google’s filters because their businesses were too close to other similar businesses that already ranked on Google’s SERPs.

Google’s Panda Update is a search filter introduced in February 2011 meant to stop sites with poor quality content and duplicate content from working their way into Google’s top search results. Panda is updated from time to time. When this happens, sites previously hit may escape if they’ve made the right changes. Panda may also catch sites that escaped before. A refresh also means “false positives” might get released.

Google Algorithm Updates.

In practice, this meant that many webmasters saw their rankings rise and fall.

The Google Fred Update seemed to be an update attacking link accuracy across the web. Many in the “black hat SEO” corner of the internet saw their rankings dip, in some cases significantly.

In this update, Google continued its trend of rewarding mobile-friendly sites for mobile searches. As so many searches occur today on mobile devices, mobile optimization is extremely important for webmasters to keep up-to-date on.

“Hummingbird” is the name of the new search platform that Google is using as of September 2013; the name comes from being “precise and fast” and is designed to better focus on the meaning behind the words. Read our Google Hummingbird FAQ here.

A relatively weak core update, the January 2020 Core Update wasn’t felt very strongly by SEO experts. It was followed up just four months later by the much more robust May 2020 core update.

Top Heavy was launched in January 2012 by Google as a means to prevent sites that were “top-heavy” with ads from ranking well in its listings. Top Heavy is periodically updated. When a fresh Top Heavy Update happens, sites that have removed excessive ads may regain lost rankings. New sites deemed too “top-heavy” may get caught.

September 2013 Google Hummingbird.

The google passage ranking is the result of what Google first called “passage indexing.” In passage indexing, Google can take information buried in the body of web passages and proffer it up in response to a short query.

As is typical of the core updates, the July 2021 core update was a comprehensive update that changed the whole algorithm slightly, but not any single function specifically.

As of February 2021, the Google passage ranking update went live. This was a potentially huge update, with Google estimating it could impact a site’s rating by up to seven percent.

Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

This update wasn’t as big as mobilegeddon (detailed below), but it did have a substantial impact. Read more here.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm update, released in May of 2016, boosted SERP rankings for mobile-friendly sites in mobile rankings.

On April 21, 2015, Google released a significant new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm designed to boost mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile device search results.

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