There have been a number of Google core algorithm updates in 2021 that may have impacted your website. Staying on top of these and ensuring your website is properly optmised for changes is critical to ensure your customers find you online.
2020 – 2021 google algorithm updates
Google broad core algorithms normally happen every few months, yet 2 core updates are expected to have rolled out by the middle of the year, one in June and one in July. This is following the last update which happened in December.
In truth, Google makes thousands of updates annually. That’s more than a few changes each day. However, they are often so small that they largely go unnoticed. Broad core algorithm updates happen less frequently, being a few months apart, normally. Following a major algorithm update, it should take anywhere from overnight to a couple of weeks to see any impact on your site and it’s ranking results.
The recent June rollout and upcoming rollout in July are actually just a staggered rollout in two parts of what was previously planned to be the one single broad core update. The update was announced and then it was found some elements weren’t quite ready. The decision was made to not hold back on the update of some of the elements that were ready to go. These are detailed further below.
Why do you need to know about Google updates?
It is good to understand when Google makes updates when mastering SEO. This will help you understand why your search engine rankings change. It is important to be able to pinpoint whether it was something you did on your website or off-page SEO work that created fluctuations in your ranking results or not. If there was a major change around the same time Google rolled out a core algorithm update, you can more safely assume it was due to the algorithm change vs. what you did.
In many instances, Google provides forewarning to major changes likely to impact search results. One such example is the recent page experience ranking factor. If you were unprepared for the impact of your core web vitals, you need to ask your SEO provider or website developer why they weren’t on the front foot and flagging page experience with you earlier.
Google algorithm updates earlier this year
3rd December 2020
December 2020 core update:
Google had 3 core algorithm updates in 2020, the December update being the final one for the year. This was a big change to the broad algorithms which seemed to have a drastic impact on many websites around the globe.
While Google announces updates where there is actionable information that can be used to prepare for the change, eg. recent page experience change or prior page speed change, core updates are more broad updates designs to ensure that they continue to deliver on their mission of delivering relevant authoritative content to searches.
As such, Google recommends that, if you were impacted by the change, focus on content. Ensure content is relevant and high quality. More information can be found at Google search consoles information pages https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2019/08/core-updates. This includes a list of questions for website owners and content creators to ask themselves should their SERP ranking results change, whether from the last update or any future ones.
10th February 2021
The passage ranking change meant Google would start considering passages from pages as additional ranking factors. Google continues to index pages based on the entire page and all of its content. The passage ranking update did not replace that, rather provides an additional element to factor.
8th April 2021
Product Reviews Update
This update impacts review review websites with a lot of product reviews or service reviews. The update came as Google’s attempt to crack down on review sights containing thin content. There were many that simply summarised products. Now Google rewards those that have good, researched information.
2nd June 2021
Broad core algorithm update
As mentioned above, there was a broad core algorithm update due for rollout in June. However, after the announcement, Google decided not all elements were ready for rollout. As such, some were held back. As a result, the most recent update has not appeared to be as major as prior updates. It is still early days however and the impact is just beginning to be properly seen.
15th June 2021
Page Experience Update
Google launched a new ranking measure based on how users perceive their experience when interacting with a website. Page experienced is measured by a new set of metrics called core web vitals. Considerations include; The speed in which the page loads; Mobile-friendly pages; If the website runs on HTTPS; Is there a presence of intrusive ads, and; If content jumps around as the page loads, known as cumulative layout shift. A website’s core web vitals and page experience are all tracked and visible in Google’s search console.
What are algorithms?
Algorithms are a set of rules or principles that are to be used in calculations or problem-solving. In simple terms, it is a set of instructions on how to complete a task.
Google uses a mixture of ranking factors combined with sophisticated algorithms to determine what order to pull information from its indexing system and deliver the most relevant results for given search engine queries. This is how Google determines the ranking of websites for particular search terms in search engine results pages (SERPs).