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 different sets of algorithms for each website that you search on the search engine. There is an abundance of available 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 necessary 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 is updated regularly. Almost every month, a new algorithm is added, 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. Around 500 improvements are made per year.
  • The main 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.

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 without much hassle.
  • The new E-A-T standards for SERP ratings. E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The E-A-T determines if the user content will be listed 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 different 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.
  • Two new link attributes are introduced 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”.
  • Nofollow links to be used as hints rather than being ignored. Referral pages will now be used for 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 is perfectly aligned with the latest algorithm updates.

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

Update 2019

Google Algorithm update BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) was officially rolled out in October 2019, which reportedly affected 10% of the U.S English search queries. It was regarded as one of the most significant updates of the last five years. Core update, which focused on user search intent, was also launched earlier in the same year.  A successful broad core search algorithm was also introduced in the same year, which helped in driving traffic to the websites as reported by some of its users.

Update 2018

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

Update 2017

Google Fred update was launched to rank the sites on the basis of 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, Intrusive Interstitial penalty update was launched in January 2017.

Update 2016

Page-specific Google update was launched to prevent the entire domain from being affected. It was named “Google Penguin Update 4.0”. Sidebar ads were removed in a new update called “ad words update”, launched in February 2016. To make websites mobile-friendly Google Mobilegeddon update was launched in April 2016.

Changes in Google algorithms are often made monthly. Some of them are so minor that they might go unnoticed. However, major ones of them need to be paid attention to. So, staying updated can serve as a benefit in the long-term.