Businesses should be more mindful of their SEO strategies when Google updates its search engine algorithms. Google seems to always be tweaking their search engine algorithms. Sometimes, they come out with a major release change, however, Google makes small changes to their algorithms on a near constant basis. SEO strategies need to remain fluid to stay on track with Google. Google didn’t get to be the number one search engine in the world by resting on its laurels and not reacting to end user feedback and trends. Google is very proactive and you should be as well with your SEO strategies.
There are some tried and true SEO strategies that will probably always be in the game. Having good on-site page optimization, using quality keywords, writing great content and having high-quality links are pretty standard. When Google updates its algorithm, it’s trying to take out bad practices. If you engage in good SEO strategies, you should not be negatively affected by Google updates.
We’ll go over some Google updates and what changed so you can see what you may need to do to alter your SEO strategies over time.
Panda – 2011
Panda was Google’s first attempt to find and act on thin content. Thin content isn’t well-written and it does not include useful or relevant information in it. Panda also zeroed in on content farming sites which had a high ad-to-content ratio and other issues relating to content quality. This update was an SEO game changer.
Penguin – April 2012
When Penguin happened, Google penalized websites that used deceitful SEO practices to get higher rankings. They looked at websites that used spam, engaged in keyword stuffing, and other questionable SEO tactics. The Penguin update impacted about 3% of all English speaking websites so it was a biggie. Penguin made good SEO practices the norm, not the exception.
Pirate – 2012
This was a filter that Google designed to keep those with active copyright infringement reports from ranking highly on their search engine. Since 2012, Pirate has been updated periodically. In 2014, Google sought to fight against software and digital media piracy. This taught folks that you really do need to ask before using other people’s information.
Top Heavy – 2012
Top Heavy saw Google update its page layout algorithms. They devalued sites with too much ad-space above the fold. Google recognized that people didn’t want to scroll down the page past a bunch of ads. Rather, users want to see web content right away. Web pages were also penalized if the ads seemed too distracting to users.
Payday – 2013
This algorithm helped identify and penalize websites that utilized search engine spam techniques in order to improve their search engine rankings. Google wanted to clean up search results for spammed search queries. After many updates, Payday has an individual search engine improvement focus that’s separate from any other algorithm that we know of.
Hummingbird – 2013
Hummingbird powered alterations to semantic searches. It looked at the meanings behind web pages, not just individual words. As a result, Google got better at focusing its searches. The goal of Hummingbird was to allow search engines to find a page by matching the meaning of the search rather than just a few select words. It was a monumental change in the SEO landscape.
Pigeon – July 2014
Google shocked the local search world with an update that dramatically altered some local results and modified how they handle and interpret location cues. Due to the hyperlocal tightening of the algorithm, Google could refine searches to high-quality results in the proper area where people were searching. This turned local search on its head and local SEO strategies changed significantly.
Mobile Update – April 2015
Google actually set up an algorithm to rank pages differently if they were optimized for mobile use. It made mobile-friendly websites a necessity for SEO. This update altered how we all access information. Google understood that people were using mobile more to search for their results and they wanted to make sure that websites were easy to read from mobile devices.
As you can see, Google is always on the cutting edge of search results and SEO practices. They want you to stay on your toes with your SEO strategies and practice good SEO. Google cares about user experience and so should you. One of the best SEO bits of advice we can give you is to plan your website with your user in mind. If you do that, you will have a sound website and solid SEO strategies that are not likely to be targeted by Google updates anytime soon.