If there’s one thing that seems to frustrate business leaders about marketing, it’s that the industry is constantly evolving and changing. Nowhere is this truer than with Google’s search algorithm updates.
In an effort to make sure that their business can be found by potential customers searching for their products and services, many business leaders have made SEO a marketing priority. But, because Google is constantly working to improve the user experience, the algorithms they use to surface results are always evolving.
Exactly how often does Google update its algorithm? When is the next change coming? What can you do to prepare your website? And, is it really that important? Those are the important questions we address in this post.
Why You Should Keep Up with Google’s Major Algorithm Updates
If you use a website to attract new customers, it’s important to ensure that it’s optimized so that people can find you. In fact …
- 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else. (SEO Tribunal)
- 39% of purchases are influenced by a relevant search. (Think with Google)
- 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Nectafy)
An algorithm change or update can either help or hurt your search ranking—which impacts your traffic—which impacts your conversions—which impacts your number of customers—which impacts your revenue.
If you’re a business, then it probably makes sense to keep track of big and important changes that could impact your strategy and tactics, because SEO impacts your bottom line.
How Often Does Google Update Its Algorithm?
Google has significantly increased its focus on improving search in recent years. In its early years, Google only made a handful of updates to its algorithms. Now, generally speaking, the search engine rolls out 500 to 600 changes to its search algorithms each year. However, many of these changes are minor, and the average web user wouldn’t even notice them. When it comes to major updates and algorithm changes, Google is more conservative with its changes.
However, as features continue to evolve, and new elements are added, there will likely be more opportunities for Google to make improvements. For example, Local SEO has clearly seen an accelerated rate of change over the past 2-3 years. This might be an important area for businesses to pay attention to when preparing for major Google updates.
The Latest Google Algorithm Updates
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t typically announce when updates will occur. Most times, SEO experts are responding to updates and speculating on when updates may happen. Below is a to-date list of the most impactful Google algorithm updates in recent years:
Core—This update was released on March 9th, 2018. Google also mentioned that the update was to assist pages that were under-rewarded but had great usage for the audience and encouraged such sites to continue to create quality content.
Fred—This update was released on March 8, 2017. Fred targeted websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. The majority of affected sites were blogs with low-quality posts that appear to be created mostly for the purpose of generating ad revenue.
Possum—This update was released on September 1, 2016. The Possum update ensured that local results vary more depending on the searcher’s location: the closer you are to a business’s address, the more likely you are to see it among local results.
How to Prepare Your Website for a Google Algorithm Update
While we may not be able to predict exactly when the next major algorithm update will occur, there are some important principles you can follow to prepare:
1. Pay attention, but don’t freak out about every single update.
Constantly worrying about Google’s algorithm updates can be maddening in the same way that watching the stock market every single day might drive you crazy. The best thing you can do is to take time to understand what’s going on and monitor potential changes on your website. In most cases, if your site respects SEO guidelines, you won’t see any changes (or most changes will be positive). So, wait a few days to see the impact on your site or on other sites from your industry.
2. Constantly monitor your traffic and ranking positions.
Analyzing your organic traffic and position for certain terms are two ways to see if you’ve been impacted by any potential algorithm updates. Fluctuations in positions may also indicate that this update has favored some of your competitors.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask an expert.
If you’re worried about a specific update or notice a spike in traffic, asking an expert to help you address the problem is a good idea. Even if Google is rolling out a major update and you’re facing drops, it doesn’t mean you’ve been impacted by this specific update.
There might be another issue that’s impacting your search ranking. Once the problem is identified, you need to start working on a strategy and prioritize actions to improve your search rankings.
Eliminate the Guesswork with The SEO Silo
While it’s important to be prepared for the next time Google announces a major algorithm update, you shouldn’t freak out. If you’re doing SEO the right way—leveraging all the key factors for driving traffic to your website—then you should be fine.
If you need help optimizing your SEO efforts, our team is here to help. Learn more about our specific services or connect with our team today to get started.