Google’s Algorithms and All That
Why do Google algorithms change?
The word algorithm refers to the logic-based, step by step procedure for solving a particular problem and in case of a search engine, the problem is how to find the most relevant webpages for a particular set of search terms. Google finds, ranks and returns the relevant results through the algorithm. Google algorithms are a complex system and deliver the best results for a query. Google, being the best search engine on the web, focusses on delivering the best results for each search. Earlier, Google just used to make a handful of updates to its algorithms. In a bid to improve its ability to get you the exact answer you’re searching for and that too, quickly, Google began to update its search algorithm. This resulted in a surge in the organic traffic and improved rankings of some sites while sites with lower rankings were penalized.
Google’s official statement
During the month of March 2019, there had been news of Google making some significant changes to the algorithm. Google had made some tweaks after the rollout of Broad Core Algorithm updates, but the change we are witnessing now is huge, and some algorithm sensors have detected more significant ranking fluctuation.
Google rarely gives any indication of the changes in the algorithms unless they are major. Smaller changes are made internally and are usually not felt, except ripples. Danny Sullivan from Google tweeted in the affirmation that yes, an update had been undertaken. Danny Sullivan gave an in-depth explanation via Google’s @searchliason account and said that Google releases one or more changes in the main search algorithm which is designed to improve the results, out of which some are focussed around specific improvements, while other around broad changes. The broad core update basically indicates to a change in the main search algorithm and is released and announced, routinely a few times a year.
Danny added that the extensive core algorithm update aims at improving search results and is a part of the irregular and routine efforts to improve relevancy, but the “core algorithm update” does not occur every day at Google. The core algorithm has many other parts including Panda and other older algorithms.
What is the goal of this broad core update?
Google makes lots of algorithm changes per year, sometimes more than once per day. Many of the named algorithms we hear about like Panda, Fred, Pigeon, etc., are implemented to address specific faults or issues in Googles’s algorithms. However, a core update is different in ways that it is basically a change to the main search algorithm itself. Simply put, Google changes the weight and importance of many ranking factors.
A broad core update means that any niche or particular signals like quality are not being targeted by Google. As broad core updates do not target websites or niches, there is nothing to fix in these updates. These core updates are improvements to google’s overall algorithm for the purpose of better understanding of search queries and web pages. The main goal of all core updates is to improve user satisfaction.
What do you do if your rankings dropped and how do you recover from a core update?
Unlike a major named update, that targeted specific things, a core update may tweak the values of everything. As the websites are weighted against other websites relevant to your query, the reason your site dropped could entirely be different than the reason that someone else’s increased or decreased in the ranking. So, what do you do if your site rankings have dropped? Google says that you should relax and do nothing. The dip in the performance of the pages should not alarm site owners who notice such changes. Google goes on to explain that “as with any update, some sites may note drops or gains.” This means that the side may be fine and there’s nothing wrong even if your pages are now not performing as well as they did before. The sites, in no way, lost their rankings, because of poor quality. Google added that instead, their system updates are in fact benefitting pages which were previously under-rewarded. It was, probably, several tweaks when combined, tipped the scales slightly in favour of one site or the other.
Furthermore, Sullivan offered guidance which was a statement made in a tweet that there is “no fix” for pages which perform less well, other than to remain focussed on building great content, one that is better than your competitor and over time, your content may rise with respect to other pages. If you were impacted, you should take a more holistic and unbiased view of your website and work on improving it. It might need technical SEO changes, it might require better quality content, a site restructure, better user experience or link analysis.
What does this mean?
It means that Google’ Broad Core Algorithm Update focused on the content. It claims that sites that lost its rankings did not lose it because of poor quality. Instead, it only means that some websites which were undermined before have now been duly recognized.
Google’s algorithm aims to do more than targeting and penalizing sites with poor quality content. Improvements or updates are meant to provide users with better answers to their queries. It can also “target” and improve the ranking of sites that have good content. In order to conquer core updates, keep focussing on user intent, quality content, clean architecture and guidelines provided by Google. Finally, you don’t stop improving your site once you reach the first position, because the site in position two is not going to stop.
Not a specific update
Danny went on to state that on twitter that it was not a Maccabees Update or anything like that since it was a core update. It was likely not Fred either. The core updates have multiple things baked into it, such as Panda and other things, but google won’t go down the path of naming it. The core updates are not targeting a specific type of issue or tactic, but a broader range of quality issues.
Anyway, so there you have it, this was a confirmed update, that only happens several times a year. If you were hit by it, then there is no specific advice outside of making your site better.
Google’s comments about the March 12 Core update:
Google said that this was by far the biggest update Google has ever done, implying this update was much bigger as compared to other updates. When asked if this new core update reverses the previous core updates, a Google spokesperson gave a scripted comment that they were constantly improving their algorithms and are building forward to improve. Google provided some information about the March 12 update, stating that it wasn’t a full reversal. Google explained that all of the recent core updates had nothing to do with any neural matching updates. They checked each of those updates and none of them lined up with the core updates. also, these updates had nothing to do with the Penguin algorithm.
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