Every single day, 3.5 billion searches are conducted on Google. That makes Google the biggest and most popular search engine on the planet. In fact, “to Google” has become a verb in its own right. So when Google makes updates to its algorithms, it can have a drastic impact on internet searches. Take a closer look at what Google updates are, why they matter and what businesses can do to continue to be successful in the world of search engine optimization.
How Does Google Search Work?
Before diving into the significance of Google’s updates, it is important to understand how Google Search works. Google has organized and classified virtually all of the information and pages on the internet. This happens thanks to web crawlers, which are also known as spiders or bots. These crawlers crawl the internet, indexing and analyzing websites from all across the planet. Everything the crawlers find, including photos, headlines and content, is placed in an enormous search index. Think of it as the card catalog of a library, but it holds far more information than a library every could.
All of that work happens behind the scenes so that every person using Google can search and quickly find what they are looking for. If you head to Google and search for the best local pizza places in your area, Google knows which pages are indexed to reflect that information. They organize the results of the search so that the most relevant websites are first. The results are organized according to an algorithm: a formula that predicts what users are most likely to want to see. Factors like how recent the content was written, local reviews, the loading time of the website and geographic location can all be considerations as Google Search pulls up results for user
What are Google Updates?
Google has been around since September of 1998. At the time, there were fewer than 2.5 million websites on the internet. Today, there are more than 1.7 billion websites! It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that Google has had many updates since 1998. Every time Google has an update, it impacts how rankings are calculated in search engine results pages, which are also known as SERPs.
There are many different reasons that Google decides to update its search engine algorithms. Sometimes, they have to reflect new technological changes. For example, one Google update ensured that mobile users were seeing the mobile versions of websites. This is a direct result of more mobile users than ever before and a shift from the default Google search being on a laptop or desktop computer. Google also has updates to its search algorithms in order to push websites that are meeting user needs to the top of the list. Websites full of spam or with spun content get pushed down the rankings with each update. Plenty of website managers try to game the system, so Google has to stay one step ahead by updating the search indexes and making user satisfaction the number one priority.
Why Should You Care About Google’s Updates?
It is easy to think of Google’s updates as behind-the-scenes changes that won’t have any real impact on individuals or their companies. However, anyone who has a business with an online presence should be aware of these updates and how they might impact searches. Knowing about various changes to the algorithm can help business owners predict traffic changes, and by adapting to these changes, businesses can avoid being penalized by Google, which could lower their ranking on the SERPs.
The goal for most websites is to increase traffic. You might want to increase traffic in order to sell more of a product or share your idea with more users. Whatever the reason behind the desire for more traffic, search engines like Google can funnel people directly to your website. Some individuals get complacent when they see steady traffic numbers. While you might be happy with traffic numbers as they are, keep in mind that they can fluctuate. An update from Google can prioritize other websites over yours, so it is critical to stay ahead of updates and understand how they might impact your website in particular.
A few businesses start to resent Google’s updates, especially if they tend to reduce traffic numbers to certain websites. However, Google is not out to harm your business. Instead, the goal is always to bring users to websites that are relevant to their searches and their interests. If an update negatively impacts your traffic, it is worth considering whether you are creating relevant, valuable content. Are you sticking to best practices or relying on outdated methods like paid backlinks and keyword stuffing? Google will always aim to reward those websites with the best content and the best practices, so trying to be both will typically net the best results for your website.
Significant Updates to Google
There are typically several updates each year, although not every update will be relevant to your particular industry or website. Google does confirm major updates, but some alleged updates are not recognized by the search engine. One of the most significant updates to Google Search in recent years was the 2015 Mobile Update, also known as Mobilegeddon. This was the first major attempt to rank websites according to their mobile friendliness, encouraging a staggering number of websites to upgrade their mobile capabilities and focus on users searching from smartphones.
Another big update came in July 2018. Known as the Mobile Speed Update, this officially made a website’s load time a factor in rankings. Almost immediately, website owners began paying closer attention to how quickly their pages loaded because that could have an impact on total traffic numbers.
Other major updates to Google Search have taken the following factors into consideration:
Boosting Your Rank on SERPs
Whatever updates a search engine like Google employs, websites still have to follow best practices in order to boost their rankings on SERPs. A SERP, or search engine results page, is the page of ranked websites that appears when someone uses Google to answer a question or look for a product. Ideally, you want your website to appear close to the top of SERPs in your desired categories or for specific keywords.
While staying aware of updates might be beneficial, those updates tend just to reward those websites that are complying with best practices and adding value to the lives of users. To start, that means having valuable, relevant and informative content. The content you create can be entertaining or educational or anything in between. However, if it is something that users are seeking out and paying attention to, then you are doing something right.
In addition to creating great content, websites can achieve higher ranks on SERPs by updating their content regularly. Another helpful tip is adding in metadata for images as well as meta descriptions. All of this additional data can help crawlers index your website appropriately and recommend it to relevant users. Finally, ensuring that your website is mobile friendly and loads quickly can boost your ranking significantly.
Every time that Google announces a new update, website managers and marketing professionals may start to question their practices. While it is helpful to understand Google updates as they happen, all of the updates are there to encourage best practices and improve user experiences. By sticking to best practices like creating quality content and ensuring that users are not inundated with ads, you will already be a step ahead of the algorithm changes.
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