Everything You Need to Know About Google Algorithm Updates

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Google algorithm updates happen regularly.

Google search functionality has been significantly developed throughout the years. It continues to improve to this day to serve better results to search users.

Core Google updates bring lots of SEO changes with them. So, that forces webmasters to stay up-to-date with the latest algorithms.

Which makes you wonder…

Why is Google always changing its algorithms? And what can I do to protect my site from new algorithm updates?

In today’s guide, you’ll learn what Google algorithm changes are and why they’re important. We’ll also teach you how to be prepared for them and what you can do to recover from a core update.

Let’s dive in.

What is a Google Algorithm Update?

Google uses many ranking signals and algorithms to deliver accurate web rankings to search users. Those ranking factors differ based on their importance and the role they play in serving quality results.

So:

An algorithm update is an improvement made to help ranking systems serve better results. Each time an update is launched, users will get more relevant results with better quality.

Why Does Google Change Its Algorithm?

There are many reasons why Google updates its’ search algorithms regularly. 

But the primary motivation is clear:

It wants to improve the user experience.

Google’s algorithms sort through billions of pages to find the most relevant results. When a user searches for a query, various search ranking and indexing systems will run to generate a relevant results page.

Now:

Google’s search engine works great — but it can always be improved.

However, it’s never clear to Google developers how users are going to interact with the system. New devices require better functionality. And it requires lots of trial and error to design the best version possible.

And because of that…

The changes in consumer behavior are what dictates what the next update should be. 

Another reason why Google is always changing its’ search functionality is to prevent black hat SEO.

For decades, search engines have been trying to stop black hat practices online. But it was never clear what the next trend was going to be.

So, Google developers need to wait and see what spammers are doing so they can stop them. It’s an ongoing battle that can only be won through constant change.

How Often Does Google Update Its Algorithm?

Google makes two to three core updates each year. Such large algorithm changes affect millions of sites and have a huge effect on rankings.

But:

Not all algorithm changes are this big.

Google’s public Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, confirmed that their search algorithms were updated 3200 times in 2018 alone. 

Yet, most of those changes were small and unnoticeable. They’re just regular updates to keep search results fresh and relevant.

How Do Search Engine Updates Affect Your Site?

Smaller algorithm changes won’t have a significant effect on your site rankings. So, for the most part, all you have to do is follow Google’s guidelines to claim and maintain higher rankings spots.

However:

Core updates can make or break your online success.

Broad algorithm changes have bigger effects on your entire site rankings. Yet, it’s not clear how your site is going to be affected.

For example:

  • Google Penguin update put an end to fishy backlinks and private blog networks (PBNs)
  • Google Panda update aimed to prevent spammy content and low-quality sites from ranking high in the SERPs
  • Google Hummingbird update improved semantic search and the use of natural language in content writing

Webmasters following solid approaches to SEO will always benefit from Google updates. Black hat SEOs, on the other hand, are forever losing rankings and traffic due to their fishy methods.

How to Check New Algorithm Updates for Google?

Google confirms and announces core updates a few days before their rollout.

They’ll either publish the news on their Webmaster blog or their SearchLiaison Twitter account to inform webmasters about the upcoming changes.

If you ever notice a sudden spike or drop in your organic traffic, you should check to see any algorithm updates happening at the moment.

However, not all algorithm changes are confirmed.

Since most updates are small and barely significant, they won’t necessarily be announced.

That may leave lots of unanswered questions to you as a webmaster. So, try to check popular SEO blogs and communities to see if other webmasters are seeing the same changes.

How to Recover From Core Google Algorithm Updates

Google has claimed many times before that there is nothing you can do to recover from a core update. 

However:

That’s not a helpful response to give to business owners trying their best to grow with SEO.

So, here’s our answer to that:

You should know that recovering from an algorithm change takes effort and patience. 

You won’t see great improvements right away. But the closer you get to what Google wants you to do, the sooner your rankings will improve. 

The recovery process is different based on what caused the drop in your rankings. Yet, it always includes making small adjustments to your website and content to align with the new guidelines.

After an update hits your website, give it a few days to see exactly what’s happening. Try contacting other webmasters in your industry to learn more about the new algorithm and its effects.

Also:

Be sure to check that Google hasn’t penalized your site. 

You can read more about what Google penalties are and how to check them here.

Next:

Begin implementing changes based on what you learned. 

Here are the most common reasons why sites are losing rankings today: 

  • Establish E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) in your industry
  • Improve content quality by using a natural language and providing unique insights
  • Remove all low-quality backlinks or PBNs coming to your site
  • Fix technical issues including mobile-friendliness and site speed

Bottom Line

You can’t predict what the next core update will be, and you’ll never know how your site can be affected.

But, Google has been giving us clear guidelines on what a successful site should look like.

Try to provide the best user-experience to your site visitors. Publish helpful content on your website regularly. And build authentic backlinks to boost your domain authority.

Ready to implement a rock-solid SEO strategy that drives results? 

Start by grabbing your free SEO report card to identify what’s holding your growth. And do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about how we can help.

    Jeramy Gordon is the founder and Chief Content Officer at the Lorem Ipsum Company. He has been creating successful content strategies for almost two decades and believes in the power of high-quality content. He lives in Orange County, California, with his wife and two children.

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