One of the biggest topics in online business is how to make the most of Google. Google is the starting point for most online browsing, and the potential rewards on offer are enormous if you can harness the power of Google to drive potential customers to your website.
Google’s whole intention is to give users the most relevant answers to their search queries, and becoming that relevant answer is the key to success.
Understanding Google’s algorithm changes is key to understanding the whole ethos behind what they’re doing and what their aims are for users. If you know what Google wants (and that’s ultimately based on what Google users want) then you’re one step ahead of the game in providing that and being able to take advantage of the benefits of increased traffic and business.
Believe it or not, Google updates its algorithms between 500 and 600 times a year — most of them only small tweaks, but still crucial to your online success. The first public announcement of an algorithm update was in September 2002, but Google had been ‘dancing’ for years before that.
The first named algorithm change was Boston, with updates since focusing on prioritising local results, combating link spam and dodgy SEO practices and emphasising fresh and useful content. Here are some of the more recent Google algorithm updates and the ways in which they’ve changed the way search results are displayed.
The Panda update
The Panda update hit in early 2011, and was focused on rewarding sites which provided good-quality content over huge amounts of links and low-quality content. This helped to eliminate spammy websites from the results.
Websites which added nothing to the internet were weeded out and even pages filled with advertising were penalised and saw a significant drop in their rankings.
The Penguin update
This rolled out in early 2012, and focused on relevance of search results. It was intended to penalise websites which violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and quality guides, as well as sites which used dodgy linking practices.
Sites with over-optimised link anchor text were penalised, as were sites linked with gambling, pharmaceuticals and adult sites. Sites found to be buying links were penalised heavily
Penguin has been rolled out incrementally in six versions, with the most recent hitting in late 2014.
The Hummingbird Update
This rolled out in late 2013 and focused on providing quick, precise results which understood the user’s intent in their search. This was a true algorithm change which completely amended the way Google chose its results.
The focus was on semantic or conversational search, enabling Google to work out the end user’s intent and display results which would help them more directly, rather than users having to refine their own searches later on.
The Pigeon Update
Pigeon rolled out in the summer of 2014 and focused largely on local search, with Google then providing more relevant and useful search results based on a local perspective. Geographical locations and distances were all taken into consideration and results were skewed to give greater relevance to local businesses and websites.
All of these Google updates affect the way in which your website ranks when people search for products or services online. Understanding the aims of Google and their reasons for implementing these algorithm updates is key to enabling you to make the most of them and to tailor your website and online marketing strategy to fit.
As has always been the case, trying to game Google never works. Google is always one step ahead and you’ll only ever be one algorithm change away from being kicked out altogether. Keeping on top of the game with quality content, giving users what they really want and ensuring that your website is a great resource on the internet will ensure that you always rank well in Google’s eyes.
If you’d like to make the most of the online marketplace and increase your online visibility and conversions, we can help you. We’re a specialist design company who can create your website to fit around not only current design trends, but also web usability standards and search engine optimisation practices, which will make sure that your website looks great, performs brilliantly and brings you new business.
To speak to us about how we might be able to help you, call us today and we’d be delighted to talk through the options with you.