Staying Informed about Google's SEO Algorithm Changes

Staying Informed about Google’s SEO Algorithm Changes


Getting your site ranked near the top of Google results pages is an important goal for any business. The Google algorithm is what determines which pages rank the best for various searches. Google periodically changes its algorithm. Businesses that want to keep their pages ranking well have to stay informed about these changes.

How Often Does Google Update the Algorithm?

While significant updates happen less often, it is estimated that Google makes small changes to the algorithm around 500 to 600 times each year. Most of the changes don’t have a major impact on how B2B eCommerce sites rank. The less frequent major updates can completely change the search engine optimization landscape.

How Can I Stay Informed About the Changes?

The smaller changes are difficult to track, but you can get an idea of how they might be affecting your site’s traffic by closely monitoring your site’s traffic and checking how well your site is ranking for your target keywords. You can also check Google’s site and social media accounts for announcements about changes. You may want to follow one or more SEO websites that track and report changes to the algorithms.

What Major Changes Have Been Made?

Google has made many major changes to its algorithm over the years. The changes are made both to produce better search results for users and to prevent site owners from gaming the system.

Product Reviews Update December 2021

The most recent update rolled out in December 2021. It involved how the search engine ranks product review pages. This was the second change to product review rankings in 2021, with the first occurring in April. Google stated that the changes were based on user feedback about what made reviews useful and trustworthy.

The update included two new best practices for product reviews:

  • Include audio, visuals or links to your experience with the product as evidence that supports your expertise and the authenticity of your review
  • Provide links to more than one seller, so that readers can purchase from the seller of their choice

Top Stories Redesign December 2021

Also in December of 2021, Google made major changes to the design of its Top Stories. The change divided this section into two columns on desktop sites, which significantly increased the amount of the results page taken up by this feature.

Core Update November 2021

Google generally doesn’t provide many details about what is contained in these core updates. The company referred users to its core updates page, which was last updated in August of 2019 and provides general advice about what to do if you notice your pages ranking differently after a core update.

Spam Update November 2021

Google released an update intended to curb spam. the company didn’t provide specific details, instead referring users to the general webmaster guidelines.

Page Title Rewrites August 2021

This update changed the way Google displays page titles. Before this update, the way titles were displayed was sometimes dependent on the search query. With the new system, titles should no longer change based on the query. Google’s system doesn’t display a title based just on what the site owner codes into the hypertext markup language. Instead, it also considers the text that users see when they first open a page. This includes the main title shown on the page, content included in the <H1> and other header tags and content that is prominent on the page. 

Google explains that it doesn’t just use the HTML title tag provided by the page creator because these tags don’t always describe pages well. Their stated goal for the change was to create more accessible and readable titles for users.

The announcement from Google advised that the company may take actions to prevent affiliate links from affecting search results when it identifies sites that do not qualify affiliate links properly. It also advised that actions might be taken against sites that make excessive use of sponsored or guest posts. 

The announcement claimed that the new link spam update would make the algorithm better at identifying and nullifying link spam. Sites flagged for link spamming would see changes to search rankings as a result.

Page Experience Update June 2021

The page experience update was intended to reward pages that provide great user experiences. The page experience update affected three elements that Google refers to as Core Vital Metrics. These metrics measure how quickly a user perceives a page to load, the responsiveness of pages to load changes and how much the elements on a page shift around as it loads. The intent of the update was to reward pages that provide better user experiences by loading quickly and all at the same time because pages that load slowly or shift around as users are trying to use them create user frustration. It also included an update to Top Stories to include all news content that meets Google News policies. 

Product Reviews Update April 2021

This update was designed to reward pages that share in-depth research on product review pages instead of thin content that merely summarizes products. The update provided a variety of guidance to sites that post product reviews, such as making sure reviews express expert knowledge, show how the product is used, provide quantitative measurements and include research that explains what sets products apart from competitors.

In this update, Google made a change so that URLs displayed in the featured snippet on a search results page no longer also appear in the page-1 results. 

BERT Update October 2019

This update introduced a change in how Google processes natural language queries. It utilizes Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, also called BERT, to help the Google algorithm better understand what users mean when they type in a search query. BERT technology makes it possible for Google to attempt to decipher what a user is searching for based on the words that come before and after a search term. 

Conclusion

These constant changes to how Google ranks search results require companies to continuously adjust their SEO strategies to ensure their pages perform well. Staying on top of the latest Google changes can help prevent your content from slipping in the rankings.