Google Updates: Pay Attention to Rank Higher

Is one of your marketing goals to have your business website rank higher in search? If so, that’s a sensible objective since 91% of all searchers only look at the first page of results.   That means getting on the first page needs to be a priority.

If that is the case, then it’s important to track and understand the changes that Google makes to its search algorithm from time to time.  These changes are designed to make the experience for its searchers better.  Some are major and shake the search engine optimization industry to its core, while some are minor such as the one reported at the end of September.

It’s all about providing faster, more meaningful and when appropriate, more local, search results for users.  Below is a list of significant updates since 2011 as well as those significant ones from 2018.

Panda – February 2011

This algorithm change was a big one. It was designed to stop keyword stuffing. That was the practice of working a keyword into a page’s content as much as possible. Prior to 2011, it helped a page rank well, but also made it nearly unreadable.

Panda rewarded websites that had quality content with better search rankings and eliminated those that didn’t from the search results.  

Penguin – April 2012

Backlinks, that is other sites linking to your website, has been a long-standing factor for ranking well. Prior to 2012, though, some webmasters were buying backlinks or getting them through link networks.

Google recognized these practices as being artificial ways to boost ranking. Penguin was intended to identify these sites and penalize them.

Hummingbird – September 2013

According to, this update, like its namesake, was meant to make the search experience fast and precise. It took the idea of organic content a step further by focusing on the meaning behind words on a page.

Pigeon – July 2014

Pigeon was a completely new algorithm It was intended to provide better and more accurate information for local searches.  It improved distance and location data as well.

Mobile Friendly – April 2015

With the rise of smartphone use, Google released this update to boost mobile-friendly pages.  Of course, that meant if your website was not mobile-friendly, it would be penalized. 

The update impacted the entire internet and reports it has become known in some circles as “Mobilegeddon.”

2018 Updates

Brackets – March 2018 called this the Brackets Update, since it happened during the NCAA Basketball tournament.  Google described this as a “broad algorithm update.” The new change had to do with how Google assesses quality on websites.  Of course, this is important so that it can properly rank sites in the search results.

Mobile-First Indexing – March 2018

To learn about a website, Google “crawls” it using software bots and then indexes the data. This new update changed the process for crawling. It will no longer be based on the desktop version of a site but instead on its mobile version first.

Core Update – April 2018

Another core update occurred in April. This change was to tweak how the algorithm rewards quality pages.

            Video Carousels – July 2018

Videos used to be presented as stand alone organic results with thumbnails. This update placed videos into a carousel configuration, typically with three across.

Mobile Speed Update – July 2018

With this change, page speed became a factor for mobile search results. If your website loaded slow on mobile devices, it was penalized.

            Chrome Security Warnings – July 2018

Google’s web browser, Chrome, began showing a “Not Secure” warning for websites that did nit have a SSL certificate, or ”https:” status.

The Wrap

Keeping up with these Google Algorithm updates is a must if you want your website to continually rank well.  In the case of several of these updates, search optimization practices that worked well became completely outdated and had the opposite effect within a day.

If you want your website to rank well and have questions about search engine optimization (SEO) call me at 513-237-5530.


Bob Turner is a Digital Marketing Consultant with RevLocal in Cincinnati, Ohio.


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