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Google reveals how many algorithm changes it made last year


Google reveals how many algorithm changes it made last year

Earlier this week, Google released a blog post titled ‘How we keep Search relevant and useful’. This includes information on its Snippets and Knowledge Panel, but it’s the figure of how many algorithm changes it makes that has really raised the eyebrows of observers in the SEO industry.

According to the post, the search giant made more than 3,200 changes to its algorithm last year. That equates to eight or nine changes every day, and means that on average, a Google search performed at 9:00am will run under different algorithms to an identical search on the same day at 12:00 noon.

As well as showing how fluid Google’s algorithms are, we can also see that as the internet has expanded exponentially, so too has the way search engines index information. In a 2010 article, Search Engine Land commented on a video by Matt Cutts from Google, where he estimated that they made about one algorithm change per day in 2009. Search Engine Land pointed out that another Google employee had given the figure of around 550 a year, but either way, the number has been well and truly dwarfed within a decade.

A big Google algorithm update used to be major news and send webmasters into panic, and they were given names like Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird to solidify their places as milestones of SEO development. Today, we are still alerted by the occasional significant change such as ‘Florida 2’ earlier this year, and the more recent diversity update got plenty of attention, but Google updates have become so common, and so rarely announced, they don’t quite cause the hysteria they once did.

Instead, it’s largely accepted that Google is constantly performing minor tweaks in an attempt to deliver the optimum results to our searches. It’s a case of more evolution and less revolution on the search engine’s part.

What it does remind us is that SEO is always changing and something that worked well last week – let alone last year – might not work quite so well now. Webmasters looking to gain favourable SEO rankings need to make sure they are regularly updating the content on their site and monitoring their performance in search engines. With algorithms being so refined and regularly altered, some fluctuations in ranking are inevitable over time, but at Engage Web, we take a look at why your site might be falling down the rankings for certain keywords and look to address the issue as soon as it starts.

John Murray

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