A pre-defined set of rules govern almost all tasks on a machine. Algorithms are complex mathematical formulas that program the computer to deliver the desired outcomes.
Using a set of mathematical formulas, a Google algorithm adds the relevant sites to your search page. All the searches on the search engine are based on the keywords and phrases. These algorithms allow you to find the most appropriate website that closely matches your search, rolling out the irrelevant ones.

There are distinct sets of algorithms for each website you search on the search engine. There is an abundance of information on the web. Sorting out relevant and most useful options for ourselves is a demanding task. This is when Google ranking systems come into the picture. They sort out the desired web pages on the search index, giving you the results.

The search engine identifies the keyword or the phrase or its synonym in the content. It then defines the degree of the match according to the user’s request, and the most relevant pages are shown as results.

The list of Google algorithms updates regularly.They add new algorithm updates almost every month, or the old one is rolled out. These changes are significant to a site’s rank on SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Google algorithms are a key factor in determining any websites performance over the internet.

How do Google search algorithms work?

The entire ranking system (SERP) is based on a keyword search function. Whenever a user posts a query on the search engine, automated spiders or crawlers travel from one link to another to create an index page using the keywords entered by the user. Google references these indexes according to the user’s search query. With the help of a search engine, the pages with similar keywords are grouped and ranked in the user’s personalised search page.

How does a Google search algorithm benefit the sites?

These algorithms enhance the visibility of your website and result in driving tremendous traffic. It helps you get listed at the top on Google based on your content, reachability and performance. It increases the number of site visitors substantially.

Interesting facts you should know

  • A search optimisation group of Google, Moz, makes changes and improvements in Google algorithms as and when required. They make around 500 improvements per year.
  • The prime objective of Google Algorithm is to ensure a user-friendly experience. It helps you get past the spammy content and shows you the desired results.
  • Google algorithms work while undertaking an image search as well.
  • Google PageRank is an important aspect of Google algorithms. PageRank was named after one of the founders of Google, Larry Page.
  • There is no formal name for these algorithms provided by Google.

The latest changes in Google Algorithms as of May 2020

  • Introduction of “Core Web Vitals” which focuses on user-interface, page-loading speed and responsiveness. It also measures the on-page behaviour of users.
  • Using Core Web Vitals, the owners of the website can monitor their website performance with little hassle.
  • The new E-A-T standard for SERP ratings. E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The E-A-T determines if it will list the user content in the top ten search results or not. As the Google Webmaster, Central Blog says, “assessing your content in terms of E-A-T criteria may help align it conceptually with the unique signals that our automated systems use to rank content.”
  • A thorough evaluation of the content to match the user’s search intent and deliver promising results.
  • Google introduced two new link attributes in the recent update. The first one is for sponsored links or posts; rel=” sponsored” and the second one is for user-generated content like comments is rel=” UGC”.
  • Google will now use no-follow links as hints rather than being ignored. Google will now use referral pages for a better understanding of your website.

Surviving and Gaining from Google Algorithm updates

  • Use the disruptive pop-ups and opt-in widgets limitedly. Misleading pop-ups can affect the performance of your website significantly.
  • Avoid too many ads. Advertisements are hindrances in a user-friendly experience.
  • Regularly check Google console reports for all activities you undertake on your website. Some of them can be mobile usability, structured data, sitemaps or coverage report.
  • Eliminate low-quality pages, which can hamper your quality scores.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Use text fonts that are clear and readable.
  • Use advanced tools such as Screaming Frog, Deep Crawl or SEMrush to undergo a website audit regularly. These tools will help you optimise your website and to make sure that your website plays along with the latest algorithm updates.

Google Algorithm updates that have rolled out in the past five years

Update 2019

In October 2019, Google released the Algorithm update called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), which reportedly affected 10% of the U.S. English search queries. They regarded it as one of the most significant updates of the last five years. Earlier in the same year they released the core update, which focused on user search intent.  Google also introduced a successful broad core search algorithm in the same year, which helped in driving traffic to the websites as reported by some of its users.

Update 2018

Google launched medic Google update in August 2018, which catered to the needs of sites in medical and healthcare niche. This update primarily focused on content ranking. Google also launched an algorithm quality update in the same year to ensure premium quality content and experience. Sites which practised duplicity witnessed a steep decline in traffic after this update. Google introduced a change to the core update to reward the websites which followed all the protocols and did things just the right way.

Update 2017

Google launched the Google Fred update to rank the sites based on the content. This helped the sites with a superior content rank above the ones offering low-quality content. As a penalty to punish websites entertaining intrusive pop-ups, they launched Intrusive Interstitial penalty update in January 2017.

Update 2016

Google released the Page-specific Google update to prevent the entire domain from being affected. With the update “Google Penguin Update 4.0”. They removed sidebar ads in a new update called “ad words update”, launched in February 2016. In April 2016, google released the Google Mobilegeddon update to make the website mobile friendly.

Google changes the algorithms almost every month. Some of them are so minor that they might go unnoticed. However, major ones can really affect the site performance. So, staying updated can serve as a benefit in the long-term.