Even if you aren’t a tech enthusiast, you’ve probably heard the word “algorithm” before, whether it be from social media, Netflix, or a middle school math class. Nowadays, there’s an algorithm for everything, including a search engine algorithm that affects digital marketing experts and web admins daily.
There have been numerous Google algorithms over the years, so let’s examine them, see how they work, and what marketers should do about them.
What is an Algorithm?
Before defining Google’s methods, we’ll need to understand what an algorithm is. In computers, an algorithm can help the system perform a specific task in a finite number of steps. When you assign a function to your computer, it can use an algorithm to initiate, perform, and complete the task.
The Google algorithm works the same way – just on a much larger scale. It uses specific steps to find the most useful results and organize them.
How Does the Google Algorithm Work?
Whenever a web user searches for something, there are usually millions of possible results in the search engine. Google needed to assess and rank the results to ensure the searchers found the information they were looking for. So, they created a dynamic algorithm that web developers can update to ensure it provides the latest and most useful results on the search engine results page (SERP). While we don’t know everything about the Google algorithm, we’re constantly learning and keeping tabs on what works and what doesn’t.
Some of the most common methods for success include:
- Incorporating the primary keyword in the title, header tags, and page meta description
- Adding several organic links to the content
- Using a responsive design to ensure the page readjusts for mobile devices
The algorithm assesses each page’s content and identifies certain traits that ensure the site meets the searchers’ intent. Each attribute has an assigned value, which will be added to determine how well the page will provide the necessary information. As a result, the websites with the best traits will rank higher, while those with fewer rank lower.
These calculations are done in milliseconds, allowing the search engine to deliver millions of results in a moment. Usually, companies that use search engine optimization (SEO) take the top spots on the Google SERPs. The Google algorithm offers a personalized experience for each user since millions of different searches are made daily. It can even provide suggestions as the web user types the keywords, showing how responsive the algorithm is.
Major Google Algorithm Updates
Before we discuss the latest updates of the Google algorithm, let’s look at some Google algorithm history. When Google was still in its infancy, the developers only made a few updates at a time. However, today they thousands of changes through new Google updates every year.
These updates aren’t that apparent, and most of them go unseen. Nevertheless, the digital marketing algorithm occasionally gets major updates that affect the SERPs. Let’s look at some of the major updates that we’ve seen in the Google algorithm.
This algorithm update was released back in 2011, and it was made a permanent part of the core algorithm in 2016. Google Panda assigns web pages a quality score, used as a ranking factor in the SERPs. The update also penalizes content duplication and keyword stuffing. Since then, SEO content marketers have been careful to check the page for plagiarism and over-optimization of keywords.
Google Penguin was introduced in 2012 and designed to down-rank websites with backlinks that seem inorganic. Some web admins were adding low-effort links that weren’t adding value to the readers. The update ensured the algorithm penalized the sites with spammy links and over-optimized anchor texts.
Google Core Updates
This update covers all the major updates that Google makes. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information about these updates since they are so frequent, and there isn’t a definitive way of adjusting your SEO practices to improve ranking. If you noticed a change, but there was no big update announcement, it was likely a Google Core Update.
The Hummingbird algorithm was created in 2013 and helps the search engine meet the searchers’ intent more accurately. While keywords are still important, the Hummingbird algorithm allows a page to rank depending on how it meets the searchers’ needs and not based on the specific keyword. Its intelligence is better at predicting what the searcher means by using context from the words together, instead of analyzing each one by itself.
RankBrain is an extension of the Hummingbird algorithm. It helps Google interpret the meaning behind the search to ensure the results match the query effortlessly. This algorithm update is among the top-ranking factors on Google. Marketers believe that RankBrain is responsible for how Google customizes every search result.
How ZGM Can Help Marketers React to Google Algorithms
While algorithms are technical and seem overwhelming when considering your SEO strategy, it’s important to understand them when optimizing your website. You don’t have to go on this journey alone since Zero Gravity Marketing can help you fully optimize your website. Despite the numerous search engine updates, we have the software and expertise necessary to ensure your page ranks high. Contact us today and receive the digital marketing expert help you need.