The practice of SEO is not what it was just a few years ago. It was not the same even 12 months previous. In fact, with hundreds of algorithm changes occurring (and that is just the alterations that are made public), this digital marketing endeavour through Google is one of the most intricate activities you could embark upon.
With that in mind, it is worth noting the monumental algorithm updates that changed the game. It will give professionals and amateurs alike an opportunity to appreciate the rapid pace of change as well as the powerful technology at the disposal of Google.
First seen as of February in 2011, the Panda update would be a landmark moment for online optimisers. Before this moment, sites could rank highly purely on the stuffing of relevant keywords where the algorithm was more concerned with quantity over quality. Panda flipped that script to focus more on the standard of the actual content, a switch that would see a significant amount of domains drop down the rankings while others rose in their place. Further Panda updates have occurred and are likely to continue.
Penguin took the Panda principle and applied it to links and backlinks rather than keywords. Websites could essentially spam their content prior to April 2012 and be rewarded for that type of behaviour. Google stepped into the breach and the brand adopted an aggressive approach to this field by acting in real time. No longer would they let sites manipulate their standing just by including links – they had to derive from authoritative and relevant sources.
August of 2013 would see the Hummingbird introduced. This allowed websites to branch out to be more creative and flexible with their keywords, a scenario that was not possible up until this point. Exact matching keywords were the only game in town, but the Hummingbird opened up businesses to expand their repertoire – a change that has been widely embraced by many.
There is an argument to be made that the mobile-friendly update is the most significant algorithm change to date, although that is not as widely shared in the SEO community. April of 2015 saw websites that catered to a more mobile-friendly market rise up the rankings whereas their competitors fell dramatically. With smartphones becoming more prominent than desktops for internet use, this was a natural progression that forced every brand to focus on their mobile campaigning and optimisation priorities.