Google algorithm changes in the last 10 years


If Google were to take up the 10-year challenge launched by Facebook a few years ago, inviting people to post old and new photos to their profiles, you’d be surprised how much it has changed the world’s most popular search engine over the last decade, adapting to user behavior and the way in which the structure of the web has changed (and continues to change). In fact, the transformation of the web has not been limited to what is visible, to what clearly shapes the browsing experience. The subway logics of the web have also been transformed, starting with those that regulate visibility and content, i.e. the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Much of what we take for granted today would have seemed like pure science fiction only two, five or ten years ago.

In the late nineties, the Internet was a difficult place to explore: it took time and effort to find what we were looking for, not only because the pages loaded slowly, but also because there was a lack of orientation and search tools. However, despite the endless changes, the web has one constant. Since the dawn of the WWW, and today more than ever, being found among the first results is the prerequisite for the success of any company, and today, to be invisible, it is enough to be on the second page of Google. By understanding the mechanisms of Google’s transformation, you will also understand how to structure your content to conquer its algorithm and reach the first page.

What is a Google algorithm?

Anyone who needs to query the “Google oracle” expects to find really useful answers. Google uses advanced algorithms to provide the most relevant answers possible to users’ needs. Algorithms are very complex secret mathematical formulas that evaluate the conformity of web content with a set of criteria, established to estimate its quality. These criteria may vary in type and number as a result of modifications made by Google, or as an effect of machine learning applied by the artificial intelligence behind them. Google’s algorithm is based on a large number of factors of which no one knows the exact number. Popularly, there is talk of 200 classification factors, but given the continuous evolution of these systems, it is plausible that there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands. The goal of the algorithms is to improve the search engine’s ability to provide relevant answers to users’ searches. To this end, new criteria are periodically introduced to evaluate the characteristics of the websites, or pre-existing ones are modified to improve the quality of the SERPs.

The importance of Google in the life of a website

Google Search processes about 40,000 queries per second, on average, which translates into a daily query volume of more than 3.5 billion and an annual volume of 1.2 trillion. The way web searches have changed has an incredible impact on the positioning and visibility of companies on the web. Understanding this evolution, therefore, is anything but a trivial curiosity: it should be the starting point of our content marketing strategy. Doing SEO the right way means working in the interest of the user, because the search engine operates with the main goal of finding relevant, pertinent and quality results: in a word, the user will find what he needs in the blink of an eye.

The most important changes in Google’s algorithm in the last 10 years

Let’s take a look back and give a brief summary: in 1996 Sergey Brin and Larry Page, then students at Stanford University, introduced
Backrub: a program that made it possible to search for and display content linked to certain keywords. The web was beginning to populate and for many it was a confusing and scattered place, where it was difficult to find what they needed, hence the idea of scoring and creating a “ranking” of the importance of web pages. The algorithm behind Backrub determined the ranking on the number of inbound links to a website from other websites. Basically, those with the highest number of backlinks gained more visibility. However, is this still sufficient today?

Unfortunately or fortunately, it is not. Over the years, inbound link counts have overlapped with inbound link counts. other criteriaThe evaluation of the quality of content, local search, multimedia (with the incorporation of images and videos), the positioning in social networks (with the advent of Google+, Facebook, Twitter), mobile and, most recently, a new semantic” approachwhich examines the meaning of searches and not just the form. Here we are in our “10-year challenge”! Let’s find out together what have been the main changes in Google’s algorithm in the last 10 years.

2022 – Google Product Reviews Update

On December 17, the Google team confirmed to many surprised and confused webmasters that an update to product reviews had been completed. Alan Kent disseminated the information with a simple tweet, some 20 days after it was first mentioned as a general update.

What happened? Google’s update on product reviews was far more comprehensive than any update for over 8 months, targeting the content of product reviews. For some affiliate marketers, owners of product review websites, etc., the upgrade drove to vital changes in the rankings of some of its most highly trafficked pages for the most relevant keywords, which essentially resulted in an iMajor reorganization of the SERPs based on new criteria for evaluating the quality of product review content..

Why is it important? Google’s constant pressure to remove low-quality content and reward good content has had a big impact on several product review sites. Google is trying to encourage website owners to break the mold of the standard product review and put more effort into creating the best individual reviews, rather than rewarding volume of product reviews.

2021- Google Page Experience Update


Google announced its Experience Update, aimed at the user’s browsing experience. Websites with better UX/UI design would be rewarded with higher rankings in Google search results.

In order to provide more precise indications, Google introduced the
Page Experience Report
which evaluates the website experience according to the following criteria.

Mobile Usability

The website must be mobile friendly. This ensures that the page is easier to view on iPhone, Android and other mobile devices. No mobile usability errors should appear in Google Search Console.

Another consideration must also be taken into account. Google also changes according to innovations in the world around us, especially from a technological point of view. Think, for example, of voice search. Google’s goal is to understand how voice search and the mobile world change the way users search. Today, as mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, we talk about
Mobile First Indexing
. For web ranking purposes, the mobile version takes precedence over the desktop version.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are used to measure the accountability, stability and loading speed of a page for users. It provides the following classifications:

  • Good
  • Needs improvement
  • Deficient

Each page receives a rating based on how well it works for users. To get a good rating, then, we have to make sure that our website is configured correctly and does not have low quality links.

2019: Google Bert

This is the biggest change to Google’s algorithm in the last five years and has affected one in ten search queries. With the Google BERT update, Google aimed to improve the interpretation of complex long tail queries to allow the user to visualize the search results most relevant to them. Through Natural Language Processing, the Mountain View giant has significantly improved its ability to understand the semantic context of the search term.

“BERT”, stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is an algorithm model based on neural networks. Google uses BERT to try to better understand the context of a search query and more accurately interpret the meaning of individual words. The mathematical models that play a central role in BERT are called “Transformers”. What is your task? They analyze a word in relation to all the other words in the sentence. Therefore, they are not limited to understanding the meaning of each word taken individually. This is especially useful when you have to interpret, for example, the meaning of prepositions, as well as the position of individual words in a search.

2018: Medic Update

Before going on vacation, Google wanted to leave us a more or less welcome gift. In early August 2018, a new algorithm update was released, the Google Core Update, more commonly known as the.
Medic Update
. What was the feature of this update? Firstly, it was observed that medical websites or, at any rate, those with health and wellness themes were negatively affected by the update.

In fact, a closer examination revealed that the upgrade did not exclusively affect a single sector. Besides, the opposite would have been quite unusual! In fact, it appears that it was the “Your Money, Your Life” sites that were affected, i.e. those dealing with topics related to the medical or financial world and which can positively or negatively affect users’ health and even happiness. In fact, Google was already giving more importance to aspects such as the authority, experience and reliability of the content creator.

2013 – 2017 Panthom Upgrades

Between 2013 and 2017 it was common to hear about Panthom upgrades. These were so-called “phantom updates”, i.e. updates that were not officially confirmed by Google, but were nevertheless noticed by Internet users. These updates hit, once again, low-quality content, focusing mainly on those pages where the advertising content was excessive compared to the structure of the page hosting it.

2015 – Google RankBrain and the ‘Mobilegeddon‘.

2015 marked a new turning point: an algorithm based on machine learning, capable of learning and progressively improving over time. RankBrain began to contextualize searches. Since then, it associates the user’s past searches with other popular online searches, keywords and phrases, and identifies relevant results on this basis. In the same year came the ‘
‘: an algorithm update that favored websites optimized for mobile devices.

2014: Pigeon Update

“Paloma”, in Spanish. This update affected the local SEO of searches. The changes in the algorithm were intended to gain accuracy in the processing of information related to the factors “distance” and “position”, and affected Google Maps and local queries.

2013: Hummingbird Update

Google’s goal was to analyze web content from a semantic point of view, interpreting the users’ search intentions and offering the most appropriate response possible and away from the ambiguities of language.

2012: Penguin Update

What was the purpose of the Penguin upgrade? Hit those sites that were getting low quality links. Basically, the goal Google had in mind was to penalize sites whose backlinks looked unnatural and to favor content that gets links naturally and not by force.

This update put an end to low-cost linkbuilding strategies, such as buying links from low-quality PBNs (private blog networks) and other black hat SEO techniques.
black hat SEO

2011: Panda Update

Google Panda has a special place in the history of Google’s algorithm changes. This update focuses primarily on the content of a website, targeting sites with duplicate content, of little value and irrelevant to users’ search intentions.

What to do when there is an algorithm change?

In its “10 years challenge“Google has aged very well indeed. Born as a bet by two college students, Google Search has become the goose that lays the golden eggs of a group that today turns over almost $40 billion per quarter. But above all, Google is now the oracle of all questions and needs, at every moment of the day. Make it your best business card and billboard with the right content marketing tactics. Considering that every year since its creation it has been retouched between 500 and 600 times, it is certain that it will continue to transform as long as it lives. And it will continue to heavily influence the work of content marketers trying to position their content on the first page. If you have a website and you are not sure how to run it or simply want to make sure it is successful, do not hesitate to contact our team of SEO experts at Rodanet. We will be happy to help you!

Copy & Content Strategist en Rodanet | | + posts

Tamara es redactora #seo y la boxeadora de la oficina. 🥊
Siempre escribe textos con gancho 😉

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