They say: “When life gives you questions, Google has answers.” Truer words have not been spoken. 

Looking for the best steak restaurant near you? Or a crafts store that sells fabric glue? What about an agency to launch your marketing campaign? 

Google and search engines are there with all the answers. 

Because of their impact on daily life, they play a huge role in growing your audience online. That’s why search engine optimisation (SEO) exists. But before understanding how SEO works, you need to understand how search engines work. 

Let’s discuss the history of search engines and Google algorithm changes. 

The Early Days of Search

We take for granted how smart Google and other search engines really are. They use advanced systems to categorise and rank information, understand voice search, and personalise search results. But a lot has changed since the early days of search. 

For example, if you didn’t know the exact spelling of a website’s name, you wouldn’t be able to find it. Plus, search results were often clogged with spam. And it took new businesses weeks or even months to get their content indexed — now, not anymore. 

Let’s understand how search engines came to be. 

Archie, the first search engine, came online in 1990. By today’s standards, Archie was simple. At the time, it was groundbreaking technology. Archie was responsible for searching file transfer protocol (FTP) sites and indexing downloadable files. But because of the limited file space, you could only view listings and not the site’s actual content. 

Since Archie, hundreds of search engines have come and gone. But a few players have also remained alongside Google. 

decorative image of different logos of search engines

Major Google Algorithm Changes Through the Years 

When we talk about search, we’re talking about Google. Google dominates nearly 85.53% of the global market. So, any changes in their algorithm impact SEO on a major scale. 

Since 2000, there have been thousands of updates over the years. Most changes have been minor.  

But major updates have redefined SEO. Keep reading. 

7 Recent Google Algorithm Updates Affecting Your SEO Strategy 

Google Update #1: Core Web Vitals 

Google has been emphasising the importance of user experience (UX) for a while now, and the Core Web Vitals update is another step in that direction.  

Purpose of the Update: 

  • Improve user experience by measuring the quality of page load times, responsiveness, and visual stability. 
  • Ensure that pages load quickly and provide a good user experience. 

Impact on Rankings: 

  • Pages that do not perform well on the Core Web Vitals metrics may see a drop in rankings, even if they have good-quality content. 

Core Areas of Focus: 

  • Loading speed 
  • Interactivity 
  • Visual stability 

Quality Guidelines: 

To prepare your website for this Google core update, you should take steps to: 

  • Optimise your images and code to reduce page load time. 
  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. 

RECOMMENDED: Google Core Web Vitals: How It Affects Your Ranking 

Google Update #2: E-E-A-T 

Google’s E-A-T guidelines help determine if you provide helpful, relevant information. You should be rolling out content demonstrating Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. 

To better assess the results, Google has added an E to E-A-T: Experience.  

For example, if your customer is looking for information on how to correctly fill out their tax returns, you should create content that an expert in the field of accounting produces. 

simple illustration with the EEAT acronym

Purpose of the Update: 

  • To understand if the content was produced with some degree of experience from using the product or visiting a business 
  • To better capture the nuances of how people look for information and the diversity of quality information that exists globally 

Impact on Rankings: 

  • As per Google, “These guidelines are what is used by our search raters to help evaluate the performance of our various search ranking systems, and they don’t directly influence ranking. They can be useful to creators seeking to understand how to self-assess their content to be successful in Google Search.” 

Core Areas of Focus: 

  • Experience 
  • Expertise 
  • Authority 
  • Trustworthiness 

Quality Guidelines: 

  • Create value-driven content that retells a first-hand life experience of the topic at hand. 
  • Build content that is original, comprehensive, and insightful. 
  • Also, answer key questions such as:  
    • Does the content provide substantial value compared to other pages in the search results? 
    • Is the content grammatically correct? 
    • Is this content written by an expert/enthusiast who knows the topic well? 
    • Will the end-reader feel they’ve learned enough about a topic to achieve their goal once they are through with your content? 

Google Update #3: Google Search Status Dashboard (Product Reviews Update) 

Recently, Google updated the Google Search Status Dashboard, which provides status information on the systems that power Google Search. The dashboard shows: 

  • Issues which may be related to the change in your site’s performance 
  • The latest ranking updates made to Google Search that may be relevant to website owners 

Constant improvements to Google Search have reduced irrelevant results appearing on a search results page by over 50% over the past seven years. Google Search’s review system update aims to reward high-quality reviews better.  

These reviews comprise content that offers insightful analysis and original research written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well. 

Purpose of the Update: 

  • To update the experience and quality of Google Search results 
  • To increase the overall relevancy of search results 
  • To “ensure people see reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarises a bunch of products, services, or other things” 

Impact on Rankings: 

  • If the review-driven content is not original, useful, insightful, or relevant to users, it will result in lower and lower Google search rankings 

Core Areas of Focus: 

  • Better product reviews for people searching 
  • Mobile-friendliness of the content 

Quality Guidelines: 

  • Use words you feel people will look for in your content, and make sure to include them in the headings, subheadings, meta titles, meta descriptions, and more. 
  • Focus on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can by answering the following questions:  
    • Is my website showing up higher on Google? Is it on the first page of the search results? 
    • Does the website have high-quality content? 
    • Is my local business showing up on Google? 
    • Is the website content fast and easy to access across all devices? 
    • Is my website secure, and is it SEO-friendly? 
  • Ensure the links are crawlable so Google can find other pages on your site. 
  • Evaluate that all forms of content, from articles and blog posts to first-party standalone content, are written with the purpose of providing original and authentic recommendations. 
  • Always evaluate the content from the end user’s perspective at the end. 

Note: As per Google, this update does not evaluate third-party reviews, such as those posted by users in the reviews section of a product or services page. 

FREE WEBINAR: Understanding the Role of SEO in Growing Your Business Online 

Google Update #4: Helpful Content System 

Google released the helpful content system update to reward better content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience. Here’s how it works: 

Step 1: The system generates a site-wide signal for Google’s automated ranking system, which is used in Google Search. 

Step 2: The system automatically identifies content that seems to have low-added value or is not considered to be helpful to users. 

Purpose of the Update: 

  • Ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results. 

Impact on Rankings: 

  • If your content does not meet a visitor’s expectations, it won’t perform well on rankings. 

Core Areas of Focus: 

  • Content helpfulness, value-add, and quality 

Quality Guidelines: 

  • Remove unhelpful content to boost your website’s rankings and create people-first (and not engine-first) content quality. 

Google Update #5: Google Search Spam Updates 

Google leverages SpamBrain, an AI-based spam-prevention system, to detect search spam. 

In fact, the search engine giant, SpamBrain detected 5x more spam sites in 2022 compared to 2021, and thanks to SpamBrain, the brand was able to make sure that more than 99% of visits from Search were spam-free. 

Purpose of the Update: 

  • To ensure the sites showing up in Search results are not coming up due to deceptive or manipulative behaviour 
  • To ensure spam sites do not end up harming or misleading people 

Impact on Rankings: 

  • Sites that violate Google’s policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all. 

Core Areas of Focus: 

  • Spam, low-quality content  

Quality Guidelines: 

  • Ensure you are repeating keywords over and over within the content. 
  • Do not engage in “cloaking” or the process of showing Google content that’s different from what users see. 
  • Ensure your website gives visitors exactly what they are looking for. 

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Google Update #6: Page Experience Update for Desktop 

Google Search strives to show the most relevant content first. Having a great page experience can help your site improve in search results. 

In other words, the Page Experience Update is similar to the Core Web Vitals update in that it aims to improve user experience. But aside from loading speeds, this update also considers other elements such as mobile-friendliness, site security, and interstitials that may negatively impact the user experience.  

Purpose of the Update: 

  • To help site owners understand how their desktop pages are performing with regards to page experience using a Search Console report 

Impact on Rankings: 

  • Websites with poor page experience will suffer from low rankings. 

Core Areas of Focus: 

  • Core Web Vitals metrics: LCP, FID, and CLS and their associated thresholds 
  • HTTPS security  
  • Absence of intrusive interstitials 

Quality Guidelines: 

  • Do not focus on only one or two aspects of the page experience. Instead, check if you’re providing an overall great page experience across many aspects. 
  • Make sure to ask yourself the following questions when assessing the page experience of the website:  
    • Do the pages have good Core Web Vitals? 
    • Are the pages secure? 
    • Is the content mobile-friendly? 
    • Does the content have an excessive number of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content? 
    • Do pages lack intrusive interstitials? 
    • How easily can visitors navigate to or locate the main content of your pages? 
    • Is the page designed so visitors can easily distinguish the main content from other content on your page? 
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. 
  • Secure your website with HTTPS. 
  • Avoid using intrusive interstitials. 

READ: How SSL Works and How to Install It on Your Website  

Google Core Update #7: Page Experience Update for Mobile 

The Page Experience Update is designed to improve the overall user experience when browsing the web on mobile devices. 

Purpose of the Update: 

  • Ensure websites are optimised for mobile devices, use HTTPS protocol, have fast loading times, and do not have intrusive interstitials or pop-ups, ultimately improving user experience. 

Impact on Rankings: 

  • This update has a big impact on mobile search rankings. Websites prioritising user experience on mobile will have an advantage in the rankings. In contrast, those who don’t optimise their web pages for mobile devices may drop their search rankings. 

Core Areas of Focus: 

  • Mobile-friendliness and the ability to offer a seamless user experience, regardless of the user’s device or screen size 
  • Safe browsing 
  • Quick loading speed on mobile 
  • Intrusive interstitials 

Quality Guidelines: 

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and designed for a seamless user experience. 
  • Focus on website security and ensure your website is HTTPS encrypted. 
  • Optimise your website’s loading speed by compressing images, reducing scripts, and optimising code. 
  • Avoid using intrusive interstitials or pop-ups that may interfere with the user experience on mobile devices. 
  • Conduct regular checks to ensure the website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate on mobile devices. 

Here’s the long and short of it: Keeping track of Google updates is a no-brainer if you want to adjust your SEO strategies and improve rankings organically. 

Remember that experts refer to Google updates as either confirmed or unconfirmed. Confirmed changes Google acknowledges publicly, whereas unconfirmed updates are major changes that experts have noticed, but Google will not comment on. 

These are some of the most important Google updates over the years. The biggest takeaway here is that Google is constantly creating new ways to optimise search. So, web admins must adapt to sharpen their SEO strategies to stay ahead of the curve. 

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Stay on Top of Google Updates with Expert Help 

Google continues to reshape search engines through voice search and AI assistants (Google Assistant). For businesses to stay competitive, they need to stay ahead of the latest Google algorithm changes.  Begin with understanding the recent Google search algorithm updates. And from there, develop a solid SEO plan and work on optimising your website. 

Can’t find the time to plan a solid SEO strategy? Leave the heavy lifting to our team of SEO experts with our low-cost, low-risk Managed SEO solution. With our advanced Managed SEO services, you can rank high on Google and improve online visibility without doing all the work. Our SEO specialists will update you on your progress with comprehensive reports and proactive communication. Connect with the team to get closer to your SEO goals now.