What Are Google Search Algorithms?

The Google Search algorithms are the computer-programmed calculations that look at websites and decide where to rank them in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Over the years, Google has launched hundreds of updates to it’s algorithms, and has even split the algorithms out in order to target particular behaviour in SEO by Webmasters, searchers and website owners. These specific algorithms are usually named afters animals.

Google Panda – First Introduced 2011

Google Panda placed more emphasis on good quality content, rather than more traditional ranking factors such as backlinks. The Panda update in 2011 forced Webmasters to ensure they only used unique, good quality content on their sites. If not, they would not reap the benefits in the serps and may even be handed a manual penalty.

Google Penguin – First Introduced 2012

Google Penguin was the one that targeted spam and dodgy link practises. Prior to Penguin, webmasters could gain ranking advantage by buying links and gaining spammy links from poor quality sites such as minor directories. Mr Penguin took care of all that, ensuring that only real, natural backlinks were rewarded from 2012 onwards.

Google Hummingbird – First Introduced 2013

Hummingbird changed the way Google delivered search results. It was designed to focus on the meaning behind the words typed into the search box. Hummingbird thinks more about each word in a query, making sure that the search results are relevant to the whole sentence, in the right context, rather than just matching up the individual words in that sentence or search string.

Google Hummingbird made sure that search results were much more relevant to the user, and was a huge change for the better.

Other Updates

Some algorithm updates aren’t named this way, and some go under the radar. One of the biggest updates was the ‘Mobile-Friendly’ update in 2015 (and again in 2016), which made a shift towards rewarding mobile-friendly “responsive” sites in mobile search results. Then there are ‘unofficially’ named updates like Possum, which is said to have changed the face of mobile search.

All of these Google Search algorithms affects the way your website appears in search. To find out more about how to make friends with the animals, get in touch.