Almost every day, Google introduces changes to its ranking algorithm. They even claim to update their search algorithm several thousand times per year. Some are tiny tweaks, usually too small to notice. But, every once in a while, Google introduces a change so fundamental, that it completely alters the way we do SEO forever.
Hazards: Duplicate, plagiarized or thin content; user-generated spam; keyword stuffing.
How does it work? Panda assigns a “quality score” to webpages; this score is then used as a ranking factor. Initially, Panda was a filter rather than part of Google’s ranking algorithm. In January 2016, it was officially incorporated into the core algorithm. Panda rollouts have become more frequent, so both penalties and recoveries now happen faster.
Hazards: Spammy or irrelevant links; links with over-optimized anchor text
How it works: Google Penguin’s objective is to down-rank sites whose backlinks look unnatural. This update put an end to low-effort link building, like buying links from link farms and PBNs.
Hazards: Keyword stuffing; low quality content
How it works: The Hummingbird algorithm helps Google to better interpret search queries and provide results that actually what the search was intended for (as opposed to the individual terms within the query). While keywords still remain very important, the Hummingbird algorithm makes it possible for a page to rank for a query even if it doesn’t contain the exact words the searcher entered. According to Search Engine Land, his is achieved through the natural language processing that relies on latent semantic indexing, co-occurring terms and synonyms.
Hazards: Poor on- and off-page SEO
How it works: Pigeon affects those searches in which the user’s location plays an important part. The update created closer ties between the local algorithm and the core algorithm: traditional SEO factors are now used to rank local results.
Hazards: Lack of a mobile version of the page; poor mobile usability.
How it works: This, and subsequent mobile search updates (2018, 2020) have shifted the focus from a desktop to a mobile version of your website. Today, Google ranks all websites based on how fast and user-friendly their mobile versions are. This automatically puts you at a huge advantage compared to competitors. The faster the content is mobile optimized, the higher Google will prioritize your ad.
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