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What is Google Search Algorithm?

Hundreds of information, facts, news is flowing all across the web world throughout the day. With the innumerable amount of information available on the internet, finding out the exact information he/she needs is almost next to impossible without some kind of help or sorting out of the relevant categories. To serve the same purpose and be an aid to the people looking for relevant information, Google ranking systems are designed. The ranking order systematically sorts through hundreds and thousands of web pages in the search index and finds out the most admissible and useful results in a fraction of seconds and keeps it in front of the user in such a way that it helps them with the information they were searching for extensively.

These Google ranking systems are made up of not one, but a whole sequence of algorithms which considers various factors like the quality, pertinent and accessibility of the internet sites or home pages. These are known as the Google Search Algorithms. The Google Search Algorithm is a complex system which allows Google search engines to find, rank and return the most relevant pages for a definite search query. With the help of the combination of algorithms and ranking factor, Google search engine ranks the pages search engine results pages.

How does Google Search Algorithm function?

In order to give users the most relevant and accurate information as their search results, Google search algorithms take into consideration many factors, such as – 

  • Meaning of the Query

Google search engines must understand the meaning, purpose and significance of the searches that the users are looking for so that they can return relevant results. They look after and assess – at first, the meaning and natural language of the words used by the users; second, the intention of the user behind his/her particular queries like whether the person is for any definition, review, purchase or looking for any specific website; or third, the freshness of the queries and requirement for crisp information. In some cases the query remains straightforward which means intent and crisp information for the search results but often during general queries, the search engine does not understand what the user means and in that case, Google usually shows the best possible results as well as provides extra options so that it gets easier for the users to be specific.

  • Relevance of Pages

Google search engine has to find relevant pages for the user’s search query so that the pages can give answers to his/her queries successfully or atleast can help them in the best possible way. The search engine does so by trailing and categorizing every website on the internet on a regular basis and examining their content thoroughly. Keywords play the main role over here. If the query and the phrases or words used that are related to the search appear on the page, then that page is considered to be of proper relevance.

  • Quality of Content

There are millions of web pages for each search query which makes it difficult for the user to discriminate between the pages because more or less every page shows the same content related to their queries. So Google search engine prioritizes and sorts out the ones which offer quality content and display experience, inevitability and solidity.

  • Usability of Pages

After checking the relevance of the pages and quality of the contents, Google search engine makes sure that the website is user-friendly and has a greater convenience to help the users. Some practical characteristics are included in this process such as – page responsiveness, proper appearance in every browser, pace of the page and safety of the website. Despite being not so important, the factors are still definitely taken into consideration when the other ones like relevance and quality are equivalent.

  • Context and Settings

Coming to the last factor that the Google search engine takes into consideration is surroundings and settings. The search results are steadily determined by the circumstances and preferences of the individual user including the user’s location, search history and search situations.

The pressure that is being applied on each factor varies from one another, depending on the nature of the user’s search query. For instance, the uniqueness of the content plays a bigger role in answering queries about present news topics than it does about definitions from the pages of any dictionary. The algorithm does an extensive work by searching out the web pages containing relevant information and keywords that would help the users in every way, then they rank each web page based on many other ranking factors such as – the number of times the keywords show up on the page, and many others. The pages that are higher ranked appear at the top of the Search Engine Result Page (SERPs) which means that the links that are the best and most relevant to the user’s search query are totally the first ones that Google records.

In order to be assured of the Search algorithms meeting high standards of authenticity and standard, there is a meticulous procedure which involves both live tests and thousands of trained external Search Quality Raters from across the world.

Search Algorithm Updates

As each year passes by, fresh and upgraded softwares and systems are getting introduced in the online market so that the users are not left behind or remain unaware of the new incomings in this era of competition and upgradation. They must remain well familiar with the new changes, considering how fast and digitized life has turned into. The Google Search Algorithm gets updated many times in a similar way, with the affirmation that users are going to be profited in return with acceptable, authentic and quality filled results at the most remarkable and efficient times. In the initial years, Google used to make only a handful of updates to its search algorithms. But with evolving time, they have started to make thousands of changes each year. A variety of changes are made to the Google search engine for the improvement of the quality of search mission, materiality in the results and an overall great and comfortable user experience of their search results and also, for listing the most relevant, reliable results in a noticeable manner.

According to the data of the Google search engine, over the past five years this continuous commitment of upgradation for the user experience of search results, the standard and reliability of the very outcomes have helped Google a great deal in decreasing the count of irrelevant and suppositious results that keeps on appearing on the search engine pages by more than 40%.

Google search algorithm updates can generally be divided into two categories:

  • Minor updates
  • Core updates

Google twitches and adjusts its algorithm consistently which means several times a day. Majority of these changes are very small that make them almost invisible and which is why people fail in noticing them. Besides these small or minor updates, Google rolls out numerous core algorithm updates every year. These are the major updates which often get catchy names and usually create a lot of hype in the SEO community and leave a huge impact on them too.

Below is the list of most renowned algorithm updates in the last decade that shaped the way Google algorithm works now.

  1. Panda (2011)

Google Panda is that update which focused on low-quality pages, narrow and identical contents, unnecessary filling of keywords. In 2016, it was included into the core algorithm record and it keeps increasing on a regular basis.

  • Penguin (2012)

Another core algorithm update is the Penguin which focuses on any kind of manipulative, low-quality, irrelevant, circulated and heightened links.

  • Hummingbird (2013)

The Hummingbird update improved the way Google recognizes and elucidates search queries which in a way is a direct shift from specific keywords to the real topic.

  • Pigeon (2014)

The Pigeon update mainly focused on the improvement of the local results in terms of both standard and precision.

  • Mobile Update (2015)

The Mobile update is also known as the Mobilegeddon update in the SEO community. It mostly favours mobile-friendly pages in mobile search results.

  • RankBrain (2015)

The RankBrain update is basically a machine learning component of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm which helps in providing more relevant and authentic search results.

  • Fred (2017)

Fred is an untenable update that seemed to focus on low-quality, ad-centered contents which violate the Google Search Quality Guidelines.

  • Medic (2018)

Medic update is a broad core algorithm update that heavily left an impact on the supposed YMYL (Your Money Your Life) pages, especially on every health-related matter.

  • Bert (2019)

Bert was another machine learning algorithm that completely focused on a better understanding of the context of a search query. This update is established on the natural language processing model known as the ‘BERT’. With the introduction of every broad core algorithm update, there breaks out a wide range of hypotheses and debates in the SEO community or on SEO social media groups and forums. Since 2020, Google has favoured the prevention of giving names to the major algorithm updates by the SEO community by announcing their names in advance.

In 2021, there are five core and most impactful Google Search Algorithms updates which shaped the SEO over this past year.

  • The Page Experience Update

Google started to implement its much awaited Page Experience update in June, 2021 and the announcement for its competition was made in September of the same year. The professionals and marketers of the SEO community of all stripes had eagerly awaited for the arrival of this particular update since the time when it was first revealed back in November, 2020. With this update came a Page Experience score the professionals can in a new report in Google Search Console.

The Page Experience Update is very much straightforward and user-friendly. It was mainly designed keeping in mind the main purpose of improving the experience of the searchers on each website. And the Page Experience score takes into account:

  • Core Web Vitals: These are a set of benchmarks measuring page performance from user experience point of view.
  • Usability of Mobiles: A page must have zero mobile usability errors.
  • Security Issues: Any security issue for a website disqualifies all the other pages from a Good status.
  • HTTPS utilisation: A page must be served over Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) which will be later on entitled for Good page experience ranking.
  • Ad Experience: Any website should never use advertising approaches which are intervening or deflecting which cannot be advantageous for a good user experience.

Since the time of the earlier implementation, Google had already shed light on the fact that Safe Browsing is not a ranking factor. An update to the Google Search blog post on August 4, 2021 has clearly stated that the system of Safe Browsing plays a very important part in keeping users of the search engine secured, and any warning or flags are always going to show up in the Search Console outside of the report of this Update.

  • Google’s Link Spam Update

Around July, Google has already forewarned the professionals and marketers that the Link Spam Update will be having quantifiable results for those who are affected. The announcement of this update was already present in a Google Search Central Blog post under the subheading of ‘Improving our Systems to fight the Spamming of Links.’ During the same time period, Google advised the marketers and professionals of SEO to ensure that they are following the best application for entering and demonstrative links, thus generating high-end contents and focusing mainly on enhancing the user experience.

  • Summer Broad Core Update(s)

This core algorithm update was implemented by Google in June. Due to time crunch, all the implementations that were meant to be there could not be completed and so it was later on picked up in July from where it had been left off. As per the search marketer Roger Montti, the core algorithm update in July had turned out and that it was rather atypical that this was introduced by two other spam updates. The SEO instructor had already predicted that this update brought about a rise in the results of People Also Ask. It might have also picked out Image Search results by some ways or unintentionally increased the spams in search engine results. John Mueller, A Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst had suggested in an October Search Central SEO meeting place that enhancing content most probably will help the user in recovering from an algorithm update. 

  • April Product Reviews Update

In April, Google introduced an update which was outlined solely to examine high standard and in-depth analysis of products with greater brilliance in search results. The update mainly targeted the narrow contents which simply sums up a handful of products. The first time the update was rolled out, it left an impact on only the English language analysis. Google in fact mentioned that though this particular update is different from the other regular core algorithm updates, they still provide relevant advice for creating quality content. Recently, Google has announced another update named Product Reviews which will be implemented over the time period of three weeks in December and is sketched to assess reliable and high-quality reviews.

 Introduction of MUM

Google’s plan for MUM (Multitask Unified Model) was undoubtedly the most effective and poignant announcement in search this year. MUM uses the potential of Artificial Intelligence to help the inquirers in completing higher complex activities. As per the initial announcement, MUM had experienced 75 different languages and was being considered as a thousand times more powerful than BERT by Google. Since MUM understands information or any query from just texts or images, Google has planned to enlarge its capacities and include audio and video types as well.

Multitask Unified Model is a technology that users need to be aware of and acknowledge because it will surely continue to rise in matters of standard content, pertinence and utility.

In May 2021, Pandu Nayak, a Google Fellow and Vice President of Search had announced that they are already looking for practical applications of MUM technology in Google Search and will soon be getting the MUM-powered characteristics and developments to their products and services in the upcoming months and years. For example – understanding the queries and information related to vaccination or creating new procedures to explore or discover topics. Google search algorithm is going to receive more grainy and detailed understanding of search results and queries, quality content and acceptability from MUM in the upcoming era.

Other Google Search Updates

In order to develop a digital marketing strategy for the upcoming year, there are a few other developments to be aware of.

  • Passage Ranking

In February, Google announced that its search algorithms can take into account passages from web pages as an additional ranking factor for English queries in the US.

  • November Core Algorithm Update

An overall response from the SEO community was put forward claiming that this November Core Algorithm update was justly compassionate.

  • October Search Quality Raters Guidelines Updates

In October, Google added five corrected points to the Search Quality Raters Guidelines, including upgraded direction on how to research information for website. There is also a change in the way certain “groups of people” in the YMYL (Your Money Your Life) record are explained.

* Google Updates Requirements for Schema Markup

In the same month of October, Google even changed the conditions and requirements for ‘HowTo’, ‘QAPage’ and ‘SpecialAnnouncement’ structured data for clarifying them. 

  • Google Algorithm Update Targets Slander

In June, The New York Times reported that Google had set up its own plans of analytically vanquishing websites which used to publish uncertain or derogatory affirmations in opposition to the rest.

Getting Ready for a Successful SEO Strategy in 2022

As a marketer or profession of the SEO community, being aware of new features, updates, shifting SERPs scopes, and core Google Search Algorithm updates provides an effective backdrop to the site’s performance data. In order to enhance and develop the SEO of their brand or plan fruitful strategies for 2022, it is very important for any digital marketer to understand the significance of search algorithm updates because it is an integral part of this whole optimization process. The core Google algorithm updates make a notable mark in the digital marketing world. Google is performing updates every now and then. Some websites and creators do not succeed in building up a concrete SEO foundation, in that case they must always remain aware and be prepared about the algorithm updates to avoid facing site performance hindrances. Besides, getting prepared for Google Search Algorithm Updates to improve the optimization must be part of every digital marketer’s SEO strategy for the upcoming year 2022 and beyond.

In spite of algorithm updates, the crux for some time to keep up the organic performance is to make sure that the site content ranges along with Google’s mission by:

  1. Making sure that the content is helpful and pertinent to what an user is searching for
  2. Testing their own web pages to get an idea of how they can be made to perform better, like Google
  3. Looking for any kind of technical update from Google as these are supposedly transmitted as an upcoming algorithm update, giving them the much needed time to add or make necessary changes 
  4. Interfacing and converting SEO goals within the limitations of the company and how the goals need to be ranged with Google’s mission

All in all, the Google Search Algorithm Updates helps in improving the user experience by a great deal as well as, developing strategies of SEO for digital marketers.

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