In the world of digital marketing, Google algorithm updates can seem like the boogeyman. The mere mention of one, impending or otherwise, can send search engine optimization practitioners into a tizzy. They’re often mysterious and can strike without warning, but they don’t have to be the monster under the bed. When it comes to SEO, you should still be on your best behavior, but here’s some key things to remember about Google algorithm updates that will help you sleep better at night.
Changes to Google’s Algorithm Happen Frequently
According to Moz.com’s Google Algorithm Update History, there were 3,234 updates in 2018, that’s almost 9 a day. With that kind of frequency, it’s more normal for an update to occur than not. Embrace the fact that change is the one constant in our industry and learn to adapt as needed. Also worth noting, most updates and changes are minor and go unnoticed, so most instances actually require nothing of you. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Keep an eye out for news regarding algorithm changes, but don’t let the word “update” cause your stress levels to rise every time you hear it.
Not all Google Updates are Created Equal
While it’s true that most Google algorithm updates are minor and typically go unnoticed, there are updates that you should be aware of – core updates. Google’s core updates typically happen a couple of times a year and “make significant, broad changes” to their search algorithms. The most recent of which was the rollout of Core Web Vitals via the Google Page Experience update.
These are the updates that tend to make waves in the search results. For that reason, in these instances, Google will make an announcement and / or confirm the changes in order to give webmasters the best opportunity to get their “affairs in order” prior to the update.
Here’s a fairly comprehensive History of Google Algorithm Updates dating back to 2003 courtesy of Search Engine Journal.
Rule of Thumb: Follow SEO Best Practices
Core update or not, there’s one thing you can do to put your website in the best position for success and that is to follow best practices. For search engine optimization that means creating high-quality content for humans, not search engines.
If you’d like to know more about what Google considers high-quality content, check out their Webmaster Central Blog. Conversely, if you find it more helpful to have a list of things you should not do, take a gander at Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that Google algorithm updates aren’t inherently evil. The entire point of an update is to improve search and to serve up the best results possible.
The rest is up to you. With that in mind, don’t fret over updates, just worry about the things you can control which is providing the best content and online experience for your users as possible.