What Is the Google Algorithm?
At its most understanable, an algorithm is “a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer.” In the context of the Google search engine, this essentially means using a step-by-step process to hierarchically rank search results relevant to a person’s search query. This system is known as the PageRank system.
Why is this important?
This is important because the better this algorithm becomes, the more relevant search results will be for a user. Also, over time, it’s possible for this algorithm to be understood by search engine manipulators, bloggers and SEO marketer providing guest blogging services. Google doesn’t want what is known as “black hat” SEO tactics employed in order to artificially inflate a page’s rank (and thereby decrease user satisfaction). So it constantly changes the algorithm to create a better, more relevant, search experience and also to punish “black hat” tactics. In fact, this year, Google has made over 30 major changes to its algorithm so far.
What Are the Changes?
There have been literally thousands of changes to Google’s algorithm since its inception. Below are just a few examples of those changes over the past four years:
- August 2008 – Google Suggest
In order to provide more seamless searching, Google began “suggesting” search terms as a user typed his/her query into the search box.
- February 2009 – Vince
This change was introduced presumably to give more weight to “trusted” sights; however, it appeared to simply give more weight to “big brands” in the search rankings.
- December 2008 – Real Time Search
Google introduced this change to give users the opportunity to witness real time results of their search as those changes took place.
- September 2010 – Google Instant
Piggy-backing off of Google Suggest, Google Instant began displaying results of a query as the user was typing it.
- February 2011 – Panda/Farmer
As part of a promised change, Google effected a change in algorithm that hit a full 12% of search results. One of the higher “hitting” algorithm changes, this ranking change was primarily enforced to weed out content farms that worked t heir way to the top of the search list by producing “shallow” and/or low quality content.
- November 2011 – Freshness Update
Another change that hit a lot of searches was the Freshness Update. Google implemented this update to help users find content that was “relevant and recent.”
- January 2012 – Top Heavy
The name is not official, but the effects certainly were. Google designed this update to devalue sites with too many ads above the fold. It affected less that 1% of searches.
Who Should Be Concerned?
Well, no one really, except spammers, guest blogging services using black-hat techniques, link stuffers and link farmers. Ok, there are a lot. But, if webmasters and SEO writers produce quality content that targets their intended audience, they shouldn’t have a problem. The best bet is to keep material fresh, relevant and high quality because Google will always be rolling out with new algorithms – and that will never change.