One of our goals here at BlogHer U is to write content that will both keep our partners informed of industry happenings and that also will teach you how to grow your audience. Today I’d like to start a post that will continue to be updated throughout 2019, on Google algorithm updates. Not all of them, as they update their search algorithm every day, but the major ones. Because, if you’re impacted by one, you might see the traffic or revenue drop and have no idea why or what happened! We will keep this page updated with all the reported Google algorithm updates this year.
But first, some facts:
What is Google’s search algorithm? It’s basically a black box of a formula that takes different weighted elements of a website and/or web page and matches it against a search query in hopes of providing the best possible result to a user. Oh, and all within .0001 of a second. Fast, right? Not only is it super complex, but Google has multiple different algorithms that work together in many different ways. For the purpose of this article, I’m talking about their basic ranking engine – i.e. the algorithm that is impacted by SEO factors.
How often is Google’s search algorithm updated? Basic tweaks are now made every single day at Google, hundreds of changes every year. But Google’s larger, “core algorithm updates” is typically updated 3-4 times a year.
Here is a cool read from Search Engine Journal on the history of Google algorithm updates.
Does Google announce their updates? Short answer is no. Or at the very least, don’t count on it. Last year, they did confirm several of the larger, more impacting broad core updates. But confirmation is likely all they’ll do. Very little detail is ever released on what the update is targeting. What’s actually more common is for them to release thought-pieces on what they’re focusing on right before updating their algorithm to target said focus. For example, days before the first documented update of the year happened, this piece was posted on Google’s Webmaster Central blog: Ways to succeed in Google News. And as you’re about to read, this first update is said to have targeted news sites.
Are algorithm updates a one-day thing? Nope. Usually it takes a week or more to fully roll out the update. Traffic can begin to fluctuate in the days leading up to the documented update and for many days after. It’s important to remember the point I just made about little confirmation given by Google. Everything that is documented, is mostly just an educated guess based on conclusions reported on by the SEO community.
Here is a list of the documented Google search algorithm updates in 2019:
1. January 18th – referred to as an “incremental algorithm update” and said to have targeted News websites and blogs. Coincidentally, Google had just written about best practices for Google News sites. In it they request clear headlines and clear (and accurate) time stamps. They’re also hacking down on News content writers. Make sure you have clear bylines and author bio pages for your authors. On the bio pages should be access to the authors via social handles. Also noted that you should avoid publishing duplicate, rewritten or scrapped content. And of course, HTTPS is a must these days, can’t escape the severity of website security.
2. Google Valentine’s Day Update – Very little has been reported on this and since it was only two days ago, it’s too early to report anything on traffic. Search Engine Journal mentioned in their coverage that “If this update is confirmed, it is reasonable to suspect that Google is making updates designed to return relevant search results that please Google’s users.”
3. Florida 2 – Confirmed on March 13th by Google, this is said to be the first “broad core” algorithm update of 2019. Penske Media Corporation’s director of SEO, Constance Ejuma summarized these type updates in the bullets below:
- It does not target any specific niche
- It doesn’t target specific signals like content quality or backlinks
- Because it doesn’t target any niche or quality signal, there’s nothing for webmasters to fix.
- The purpose of the broad core update is to allow Google to better match queries to pages and improve user satisfaction.
* More to come, this piece will be updated throughout the year, as needed.