Algorithms are used by Google and other search engines to determine the relevance of the search results they serve. They change constantly, and can impact a site’s search traffic, so it’s vital to keep on top of algorithm updates.
Google’s algorithms change multiple times every year, and these are often just the changes we’re aware of because Google announces them (or just hints at them). For example, there were at least 15 Google algorithm updates in 2019.
If you experience a sudden loss of traffic, this may be a result of a Google update. Being aware of these updates and what they mean is the key to addressing such issues when they happen, or being able to avoid them in the first place.
As you search the web, you’re essentially viewing Google’s (or Bing’s) index of the web – the pages that search engines have crawled and deemed to be relevant to the search query.
The results shown, and the order in which they’re displayed, is decided by algorithms. These algorithms take a range of factors into account before serving the pages which are most likely to be relevant and useful to the user typing a search term.
The Google algorithm considers a wide range of factors when looking to serve results, from the relevance of the page to the search query, the number and quality of links pointing to a page, key signals indicating page authority and more.
The relative importance of each ranking factor, which factors Google takes into account, and the changing importance of each is a subject of much debate among SEOs. Google tends to remain opaque about many factors, especially the exact weight of each, to make it harder to game its algorithm.
From a marketing perspective, it’s important to keep on top of algorithm changes, and to monitor changes in search rankings for possible effects and potential fixes.
Google will sometimes talk about key changes in how it will look at pages, such as an increased focus on page speed, so it pays to keep on top of such developments.