Major Google Algorithm Updates: What You Need To Know

google algorithm blog

Google algorithm updates are a significant part of the SEO landscape. Google constantly updates its search engine to provide users with the most accurate and relevant content possible and a better user experience. The problem is that they don’t always tell us when these algorithm update changes happen! If you’re curious about how Google’s past algorithm updates may have affected your website, keep reading for more information. Since February 2011, when the Panda update was released, Google announced eight major Google algorithm updates. Each core update has fundamentally changed the landscape for SEO and search engine optimisation, making it more difficult for the search community to rank in results pages through traditional methods such as keyword stuffing.

However, by keeping up with these significant changes and knowing how they will affect your website’s ranking on Google (and other search engines), you can create a successful technical SEO strategy that is sure to be effective! A quality technical SEO strategy must first and foremost include a plan for all the latest Google algorithm updates, but what are they, and what do they mean to businesses and search results? SEO is a constant battle between providing a high-quality user experience and avoiding violations of Google’s guidelines. After all, the last thing you want as a business owner is an algorithmic penalty or any Google manual penalties. The goal for any website is to be displayed in relevant results, which drives quality traffic to your site. As we all know, Google pretty much implements quality guidelines and updates the algorithm every day. Google’s machine learning changes regularly to its ranking algorithm. These can be just minor tweaks, and others can severely impact the search results.

At Hone, we continuously analyse our client’s on-page SEO data to ensure a speedy response to any algorithmic changes and penalties rolled with a brief overview and SEO advice. Avoiding any manual actions and providing seamless user experiences. Here we focus on the top four Google updates to the algorithm, also known as a broad core algorithm update, Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Mobile; this article will give you a good understanding of the types of penalties you could face and how each update has shifted the focus of SEO onto quality and relevant and trustworthy content. And also, look into Google penalty recoveries and what each update will require you to do to avoid them.

google panda

Google Panda

We will start with Google Panda, released on 24th February 2011. This update targeted duplicate, plagiarised or thin content, user-generated spam and keyword stuffing. Panda allocates a so-called “quality score” to individual web pages; this will be used as a ranking factor. Panda was initially a filter rather than part of the main Google ranking; however, in January 2016, the core algorithm included all the Panda attributes.

Panda updates have become more frequent, so penalties and recoveries now happen faster. Panda was initially a filter rather than part of the main Google ranking; however, in January 2016, the core algorithm included all the Panda attributes. Panda updates have become more frequent, so penalties and recoveries now happen faster.

Resolution: Keep that content unique and ensure pages and URLs are not duplicated; it is a significant penalty risk to stuff keywords into a site.

google penguin

Google Penguin Update

Next is Google Penguin, which targets spammy or irrelevant links, especially links with over-optimised anchor text. The main objective of this update is to down-rank sites whose links it deems manipulative. All the changes were made as part of Google’s effort to be more transparent about how they want web admins, publishers and site owners to think about creating high-quality content that benefits both search engines and users alike. Resolution: This update runs in real-time, unlike Panda, so it’s best to have some software to check for any unusual spikes in backlinking to your site. Google search console still provides impressive amounts of data so that you can check. You can also get help by submitting a reconsideration request.

Google cut its index of URLs in half and now filters out low-quality pages. This is why it’s so much harder to rank for competitive search terms. You can use a free tool like Mozbar or Semrush (or similar) that will do periodic checks on your website to see if there are any unnatural spikes in backlinks coming from other places than where you expect them from – such as external links with over optimised anchor text pointing at your domain name.

google hummingbird

Google Hummingbird

Hummingbird emerged in August 2013 and focused on keywords and low-quality content. It interprets search queries to provide user intent results rather than concentrating on keywords within the question. Keywords are still massively important. However, Hummingbird allows a web page to rank for a query even if it doesn’t contain the exact words the searcher entered. This update is huge for SEO and content marketing. It has shifted Google search rankings towards more natural, conversational queries with long-tail keywords instead of the traditional keyword stuffing that many website owners used to rank on searches simply due to their appearance containing high-ranking words.

Resolution: Target your keyword research on concepts rather than keywords. You can gather some good ideas from Google-related searches and Google Autocomplete.

Google Mobile

Google has been trying to make the Internet accessible and easy for mobile devices. In April 2015, they released Mobile with a new ranking factor specifically targeting mobile search and how website performance is affected by device size or screen resolution. When it comes to websites being “Google compatible,” this update not only means making sure your site works well on small screens but also that you prepare your website for when Google’s search engine crawls through your content once again in an attempt to create its indexing system called “mobile-first.” With this change, all about prioritising sites optimised for mobile usage over those who have yet fulfilled these requirements, be sure that everything from coding standards down to any images used is easily viewable without zooming or having to resize.

Resolution: A mobile-friendly, optimised site is a must. Also, the focus should be on page loading speeds and usability.


With these Google algorithm updates, many businesses have noticed a significant change in their rankings. If these updates are currently hitting your websites and you want to get back on track quickly with SEO or digital marketing strategies that work, we can help! Our team of experts has experience dealing with significant Google algorithm changes.

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