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Historic Google algorithm updates you should know

Published: 11/01/2016 | AUTHOR: Emily Bray

History of Google algorithm updates

An insight into the long history of Google’s most significant algorithm updates.

Panda

Targets thin, duplicate and poor quality content. While the first two of these are relatively easy to spot, there is still a huge debate on just what constitutes poor, or high, quality content. You may have heard the phrase ‘content is king’ being bounced around in digital circles and this statement is as true today as it was a couple of years ago, if not more so. This is just one reason that some of the best content marketing agencies have been in high demand recently. If content on your website is not valuable to those viewing your website then it is not considered high quality content by Google. So viewer first!

There have been several updates of the Panda algorithm and these have continued right up to this year. Each update targets more sites with algorithm changes to Google’s criteria for what they deem high quality. Some updates are more dramatic than others but it is still considered best practice to be aware that your site could still be hit by updates, even if it saw no change after the initial roll out.

Penguin

Penguin set out to target sites that gained in the SERP rankings out of unnatural backlinks. Links have been used by Google to see how trusted a site is where the more links that point to a site, the more trusted that site is deemed by Google. Search Marketers were aware of this and used unnatural methods of gaining links, including buying links.

Penguin was introduced to determine sites that used this knowledge to their advantage and as a way of improving user experience, where it is considered that if a reputable source links to a site, then the site will be relevant to the user.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird was more of a complete overhaul for Google than Panda or Penguin, with the search engine stating that the Google Algorithm hasn’t been updated as deeply as this since the Caffeine update in 2010, an update that was designed to return results faster and deal with rapidly updated information more effectively. Hummingbird was unleashed to better understand a searcher’s query, understanding the meaning behind a search rather than focus purely on keywords.

Pigeon

Pigeon first hit the US in July 2014, coming to the UK in December that year. The change marks the largest local search update released by Google and it works by better understanding a location-based query, providing more relevant and accurate local search results.Mobile Friendly Test Google

Other updates

Other updates to note include the Mobile update of April 2015 that had companies frantically rushing to make their websites mobile-friendly. You can easily test if a website is set up
for mobile with the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
Remember those charming author photos that used to appear in the SERPs? Google Authorship was intended to be a significant ranking factor until it was realised that this information wasn’t significantly useful to users. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst and SEO spokesman, John Mueller, made the announcement that Google would be dropping Google Authorship here.
There are several other significant Google algorithm updates that have taken place over the years and such changes are expected to continue to haunt web developers and SEOs for years to come whilst the user experience continues, as it should, to be the number one priority.
If you found this article interesting and want to know more about Google rankings and how your website could be affected, then we’d be more than happy to speak with you.

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