Celebrating more than a decade of the Google algorithm

Apr 14, 2023 by
Celebrating more than a decade of the Google algorithm

For more than a decade now, the Google search algorithm that determines how and why we see what we see on the world’s most popular and powerful search engine has been evolving under our noses. Mostly for the better.

The algorithm, which determines the order in which websites appear in search results, has undergone numerous changes and updates since its inception. As of 2023, the algorithm has been around for almost as long as Google itself and its evolution has had a significant impact on the world of SEO.

When Google first launched its search engine in 1998, the algorithm was relatively simple, relying heavily on keyword density to determine the relevance of a website. However, as the internet grew and more and more websites were created, Google realised that it needed to refine and redefine its algorithm to provide more accurate search results that kept people coming back for more.

It obviously worked. I mean, when was the last time you used Yahoo and does anyone else remember Netscape or Ask Jeeves? It’s arguably the algorithm that’s a major part of this success and today we’ll be tracing its evolution over the last 12 years.

A timeline of the Google search algorithm

While the algorithm was obviously playing a part in some small way before 2011, it was only in 2011 that the modern SEO era truly began when Google launched a major update to its algorithm, known as Panda.

Panda – The Panda update was designed to penalise websites that had low-quality or thin content, as well as those that used keyword stuffing or other black hat SEO tactics. The update was significant and affected approximately 12% of all search results.

Penguin – In 2012, Google released another major update to its algorithm, known as Penguin. This update was designed to punish websites that engaged in manipulative link-building practices, such as buying links or participating in link networks. The update was particularly significant for websites that relied heavily on link building as part of their SEO strategy.

Hummingbird – In 2013, Google released another update, known as the Hummingbird update. Unlike the Panda and Penguin updates, which were primarily designed to penalize websites, Hummingbird was designed to improve the overall quality of search results. The update focused on improving Google’s understanding of search queries and their intent, which allowed the search engine to provide more accurate and relevant search results.

The modern era – Since the release of Hummingbird, Google has continued to refine and update its algorithm on a regular basis. Some updates, such as the mobile-friendly update in 2015, were designed to improve the user experience for mobile users. Others, such as the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) update in 2018, were designed to improve the quality and reliability of search results.

Always learning

Overall, the evolution of Google’s algorithm has had a significant impact on the world of SEO. It has forced webmasters and SEO professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest best practices and has made it increasingly difficult for websites to manipulate their search rankings. While the algorithm will no doubt continue to evolve in the years to come, Google’s focus will remain on providing the most accurate and relevant search results possible and we wouldn’t have it any other way.