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Google Updates: What They Are and Why You Should Care

Did you know there are hundreds of Google updates every year?

Most people don’t know this because the tech giant rarely announces any of them. Some of the changes are minor, whereas other changes tend to rock the boat.

But does anyone outside of Google headquarters care about their updates?

Well, the short answer is yes, and there are plenty reasons for them to care.

This article will take a look at what Google updates are and why they’re so important to webmasters and SEOs.

Keep reading to find out why you should pay attention to these mysterious changes!

Understanding Google Updates

Google’s ultimate goal is to ensure that their search engine is the best on the planet. Thus far, they’re accomplishing their goal. 

As it stands, Google controls over 60% of the U.S. search engine market share, with more than 30 billion queries a month. But they have to continue to fend off Microsoft if they want to stay on top.

In an effort to perfect their search engine, Google makes changes as often as it sees fit. Ideally, these changes improve both search quality and user experience.

When it comes to organic search results, Google wants to emphasize high-quality content. This involves tweaking the algorithm to make sure organic search results are as relevant, accurate, and useful to the user as possible.

But keep in mind that Google makes money from selling ads. As a result, they will make changes to improve paid results as well. This can impact SEO and make things harder for sites attempting to rank organically.

For example, Google used to keep three paid search results on the right-hand side of the screen. However, they eventually changed it so that the top four results are all paid ads. Consequently, many organic search results moved from the first page to the second.

This is one of the many changes Google has made over the years. However, algorithmic updates are harder to notice but can have just as much, if not more, of an impact on SEO.

A Quick Look at Major Google Updates

Lately, Google updates have been more gradual. However, that hasn’t always been the case. Here are a few of the biggest, groundbreaking updates.

Google Panda

The internet hasn’t been the same since the Panda update launched in February of 2011. This update affected a whopping 12% of the English web.

In a nutshell, Panda was an algorithm update that aimed to reduce low-quality content. This update penalized pages with low word counts and heavy ads. It also de-ranked pages that featured duplicate content.

Since it takes several months for Google to refresh Panda, penalized sites had to wait several months to recover.

Google Penguin

A little less than a year after Panda, Google launched its Penguin update.

This update aimed to put an end to several black hat SEO techniques.

One technique penalized by Penguin involved the spamming of keyword anchor text. It took approximately half a year to recover from a Penguin penalty.

Penguin also targeted low-quality links. If Google determined that too many links on a site were not trustworthy, the entire site took a hit in ranking. 

Google Hummingbird

Google announced Hummingbird in September of 2013. The kicker was that this update had already been in place for a month before the announcement.

Unlike its predecessors, Hummingbird was a brand new engine. Google designed it to improve the way its search engine interpreted user queries. For instance, a search for Italian food now focuses on results for local Italian restaurants rather than general info about Italy. 

Additionally, this update also bolstered Google’s voice search capabilities. 

Why Google Doesn’t Announce Updates

In the past, Google made announcements about algorithm updates quite often. Recently, we’ve seen a significant reduction in the frequency of these announcements. Major updates still occur, but they aren’t always confirmed by Google.

This leaves many folks scratching their heads as to why that’s the case. But Google has explained themselves time and time again. 

As mentioned before, there are hundreds of small algorithm changes per year. This equates to anywhere from one to three changes per day. Instead of big changes occurring at once, we see gradual changes occurring constantly.

Google doesn’t see the point of making announcements about each algorithm update—and maybe they’re right. However, this shift from Google has impacted webmasters and SEOs alike.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Updates

Due to the constant barrage of unannounced updates, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by Google updates. If you’re managing a website, you now have to pay closer attention to the changes occurring on Google.

But thanks to Google updates, it’s no longer enough to cram keywords to rank higher on a SERP. It’s also no longer acceptable to post untrustworthy, derogatory, or nonfactual content.

The bottom line is that these updates determine what content is ideal for your website. If you want your page to rank high, you have to adapt to Google’s ever-changing standards. This is why you should care about Google updates.

If you end up getting penalized, it’s important to make changes as soon as possible. If you fail to notice dips in your stats, you may take longer to recover from a penalty.

In general, Google wants you to focus on the user experience. However, you can never predict what’s going to be in the next update.

In recent years, many changes have involved rewarding websites that are mobile-friendly. This trend may continue.

Regardless, if you want to maintain web traffic or leads, you cannot neglect updates. 

Wrapping Up

In short, Google updates matter because they affect the effectiveness of an overall SEO strategy. An update can turn a highly successful strategy into an utterly worthless one.

If you own a website, it’s in your best interest to monitor your statistics. If you notice any sudden changes, check credible sources on the web.

Keep in mind that these updates often hit hard and fast. Once you get penalized, it could take a while to recover.