Every year Google comes out with a variety of large and small updates to its algorithm. The search giant’s algorithm includes a complex system of formulas and ranking signals that retrieve data from keyword searches and instantly delivers the best possible results for the keywords searched. In its early years, Google publicly shared their core algorithm updates to those in the SEO community; updates such as Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin.
In recent years, Google has been much more secretive about their updates. Below I’ve outlined the larger and more impactful Google algorithm updates from 2019. One of the most helpful ways to see if your site has or will be affected by an algorithm update is to approach the update with a set of Google-provided questions about performance, quality, and other aspects.
Known among some in the SEO community as the “Valentine’s Day Update,” this update centers a website’s content quality.
- Does the website have Experience, Authority, and Trustworthiness?
- How relevant is the website search keywords to the website’s content?
- How good is your website’s content?
- How well does the website’s content answer a visitor’s question or search keyword query?
March 2019 Core Update
While the March core update doesn’t target any specific niches, it does change how Google interprets a user’s search query which can affect how a webpage is ranked on search engine results pages (SERPs). The March update also affects a webpage’s content relevancy of a user’s search query.
June 2019 Core Update
The June core update was one of the first updates in 2019 to turn the search algorithm’s focus to webpage content. The update included four different categories that websites should focus on improving: 1) content and quality, 2) content expertise, 3) presentation and production, and 4) comparative content.
- Content and quality: all content published on your site should be original, insightful and comprehensive. Your site should avoid the use of clickbait headlines that exaggerate the quality of the topic.
- Is your webpage the kind of page you would bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Content expertise: content on your site should be truthful and the content’s author should not be mysterious about providing their credentials related to the content.
- Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors?
- Presentation and production: the content should be visible to all users on any platform or device.
- Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with main content?
- Does content display well when viewed by mobile devices?
- Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does the content serve the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
September 2019 Core Update
There was very little information regarding this update by both Google and SEO publications around the web. Speculation and general consensus is that links played a big part in September’s core update; the more “black hat” or bad links a website has in their backlinks the worse their site ranked on Google.
The BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) algorithm is a deep learning algorithm related to natural language processing. This update is a stepping stone to more updates on the journey to better understand the context of keywords in search queries; previously Google’s algorithm focused on processing words one-by-one in order. This is important because different words can have different meanings based on the location of the user searching or the context of the query.