How does Google’s Algorithm Updates affect SEO?
Panda. Penguin. They may sound cute and cuddly, but don’t be fooled. Search engines use complex algorithms to crawl and index websites and pages in order to present myriad search results to searchers in seconds. And each search engine—there are over two hundred and fifty on the Internet at present (and counting)—uses a unique algorithm to do so. [Update: 1 September 2016. Google Possum has now launched, an algorithm update that affects local search.]
Google’s market share dominance means SEO’ers need to only cosy up to one search engine to accomplish their ends. But how do Google’s algorithm updates affect your SEO?
Like all search engines, Google regularly updates its multifaceted algorithm. For example, Google’s algorithm update “Panda”—first released in February 2011—aimed at down ranking low-quality websites, sites that offered a poor experience to searchers. Google’s algorithm update “Penguin”—first announced in April 2012—aimed at penalising websites that were guilty of “black-hat SEO techniques” violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking (or using hidden text), deliberate creation of duplicate content and participating in link schemes (or buying backlinks).
Beside the multiple updates of Panda and Penguin, there have been many other “major” updates with diverse names like Hummingbird, Pirate, Pigeon and Phantom. Actually, Google makes about 500-600 updates a year! See here for an exceptional outline of Google updates all the way to the year 2000.
Google’s Algorithm Updates and SEO Success
While these regular updates can seem to make SEO success a moving target, we can take heart from the fact that above everything else, Google’s own business success remains tied to their ability to profile sites that offer searchers (their customers) the best user-experience possible. (You and I are these very customers every time we open a search browser … and we’re happy when we find what we’re searching for on the first search request not the seventh. Right?).
In other words, no matter how much Google tweaks their algorithm; you cannot go wrong by cooperating with their intended goal. Offering rich content through your blogging platform and maintaining solid backlinks (building your popularity, and thus credibility, in cyberspace) will always be salient factors in keeping pace with Google.