To deliver the best results possible to someone searching for something, Google makes adjustments to its algorithm to help improve the quality and relevance of the search results. Every year there are hundreds of updates, minor and major, focusing on everything from the quality of content and understanding the context of content to the mobile friendliness of a site.
To get a better understanding of these updates, here are a couple of examples of some of the major updates that have happened in the past:
Panda: The Panda update was released in early 2011 and focused on duplicate content, user-generated spam, and keyword stuffing. With this update, a score is assigned to a site to reduce the number of low-quality sites showing up in the search engine results and reward the high-quality sites.
Bert: In 2019, the Bert update focused on matching complicated queries with helpful results. According to Search Engine Journal, the BERT algorithm is a deep learning algorithm related to natural language processing and helps a machine to understand what words in a sentence mean. In other words, the search engine can understand the context of a word by looking at the relation of the other words in the query.
This summer, we saw Google roll out multiple updates that focused on page experience and spam. There was also a two-part core update.
Page Experience: The Page Experience update is exactly what it sounds like. Google wants to reward pages that offer good user experiences. Signals that Google uses to determine a good user experience are core web vitals, mobile usability, security issues, HTTPS usage, and ad experience.
Spam: Another way Google improves search results is by removing spam pages, ones that may lead to the installation of a virus or private data being stolen.
Core updates: In a post by Danny Sullivan, he describes core updates as broad improvements to search. He goes on to say that the updates “can produce some noticeable changes – though typically these are often noticed by people actively running websites or performing SEO than ordinary users.”
Throughout the year, Google usually releases several of these core updates. This year, a two-part update was released in June and July. While Google does inform everyone of upcoming core updates, specific information about them isn’t made available. That doesn’t stop people from analyzing and giving their thoughts in blog posts or on social media.
As a result of these updates, rankings fluctuate and website traffic may decrease. When this occurs, you might see some people you work with looking like this.
Maybe not to that extent – but when you see your site traffic go down, it can be a frantic feeling. When these updates do occur, check Google Analytics, keep an eye on the information that is provided from Google, blogs, or social media, and optimize your website and pages as needed. On top of that, don’t panic! Keep doing what you’re doing and give your audience what they’re looking for. From experience, you’ll usually see your traffic bounce back the next month.