Google algorithms are specifically designed to deliver the best possible search results in an instant. They are complex systems built to retrieve data from Google’s search index quickly with webpages ranked based according to their relevance and displayed on the search engine’s results page (SERPs). There are significant benefits to be gained for any business using SEO services provided by experts in Adelaide.

A combination of algorithms and several ranking factors are used to ascertain this. A digital marketing agency in Adelaide that is up to date on the most recent algorithmic changes can be of great assistance.

Once upon a time, Google made only a handful of updates to its search algorithms. Now, it literally makes thousands of changes per year. A number of these are so minor that they generally go unnoticed, however, some of them come out as significant algorithmic changes that have a substantial impact on SERPs, such as:

  • EMD (Exact Match Domain)
  • Fred
  • Hummingbird
  • Intrusive Interstitials Update
  • Mobilegeddon
  • RankBrain
  • Panda
  • Page Layout Algorithm
  • Payday
  • Penguin
  • Pigeon

You can rely on a digital marketing agency in Adelaide to ensure that your website stays ahead of the changes and continues to achieve top ranking search results. SEO services are constantly tweaked according to the changes made by Google to improve your website’s visibility.

For you to stay abreast of key changes that Google has rolled out, we have put together the following comprehensive list of Google algorithm launches, updates and refreshes from January through to July 2021, starting with the most recent.

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Google link spam algorithm update

26 July 2021

Google began rolling out the ‘link spam update’ from July, making its algorithms more effective at identifying and nullifying link spam. This update specifically targets links from sponsored, guest and affiliate content. Site owners must pay attention to Google’s advice on handling links within content where an exchange of value is involved.

Let’s look at Google’s guidance for this algorithm update.

Google link tag best practices
  • When linking to other websites, site owners must properly qualify links.
  • Tags must be added to links where there is an exchange of value between the concerned sites.
  • Google has singled out affiliate links, as well as sponsored and guest content links.

Google recommends the following for each link type:

  • Affiliate links — Sites participating in affiliate programs must qualify affiliate links with rel= “sponsored,” irrespective of manually or dynamically created links.
  • Links from sponsored posts — Advertisements or paid placements links (commonly called paid links) must be marked up with the rel= “sponsored” value.
  • Links from guest posts — Links from guest posts are to be marked up with the rel= “nofollow” value.

Google also adds that it may issue manual actions when it finds sites that fail to appropriately qualify the above types of links.

Core update completed

12 July 2021

This core update by Google focuses on content. While pages that drop in ranking after a core update may not have anything wrong to fix, websites that do less well after a core update change should focus on ensuring they’re offering quality and relevant content as that’s what search algorithms seek to reward.

Take some time to evaluate the content on your site by asking:

  • Is the content unique in terms of information, research, analysis or reporting?
  • Is the content substantial, complete or comprehensive in its topic coverage?
  • Is there any insightful analysis or interesting information that isn’t obvious?
  • Does the content add value to the original sources, or is it simply copying or rewriting them?
  • Is there a descriptive, helpful summary of the content in the headline and/or page title?
  • Is the headline and/or page title accurate and relevant?
  • Is this the type of page you’d bookmark, recommend or share with a friend?
  • Would you expect to see this information in an encyclopaedia, book or printed magazine?

Questions for subject experts

  • Does the presentation of the content make you want to trust it, such as through clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, or background on the author or the site that publishes it? Are there links to the author’s page or an About page about the site?
  • If you researched it, would you get the impression that the site producing the content is well-trusted or widely recognised as an authority on its niche or subject matter?
  • Is the content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrates a thorough understanding of the subject?
  • Are there any easily verifiable factual errors in the content?
  • Would you be comfortable trusting this content for any concerns about your money or life?

Presentation and production

  • Is the content grammatically correct and free from spelling errors?
  • Is the content well-produced or does it appear sloppy or hastily put together?
  • Is the content mass-produced or outsourced to many creators creating inconsistencies? Or is it spread across a vast network of sites so that individual pages or sites do not receive much care or attention?
  • Is there an excessive amount of advertising within the content that is distracting from or interfering with the main subject and messages?
  • Does the content display well when viewed on mobile devices?

Comparative questions

  • Is the content of significant value when compared to other pages in the search results?
  • Does the content appear to be serving the genuine interests of site visitors, or does it seem to exist solely to determine what ranks well in search engines?

Core update

1 July 2021

On 1 July, Google released a broad core algorithm update as a continuation of previous month’s core update. That is, the remainder of the changes Google intended to complete in the June update.

The guidance on recovering from this update is the same as all other core updates in the past.

This update may be just what site owners needed to recover from an update that hit them months ago. It may even help site owners recover if the previous month’s update impacted them.

Recently, there have been many updates to Google Search that it may be difficult to diagnose which specific update a site was impacted by, or whether it was a combination of updates.

Spam update — Part 2

28 June 2021

Google announced the rollout of the second anti-spam update. Similar to the 23 June spam update, it will finish rolling out the same day.

Spam generated by hacked websites is one of the types of spam addressed in that announcement. Google indicated that it is not a problem that they can solve on their own and urged publishers to keep their site software up to date to prevent hacking events from occurring.

Google also provided a link to their webmaster guidelines which lists the following types of spam that publishers should avoid:

  • Autogenerated content
  • Link schemes
  • Unoriginal content
  • Cloaking
  • Hidden text or links
  • Doorway pages
  • Scraped content
  • Abusing structured data

Link schemes in particular are a prevalent form of manipulating Google’s search results. It’s big business to figure out how to trick websites into linking to other sites. It’s debatable whether Google’s AI can detect these link schemes, some of which were created by so-called white hats.

Fake alumni trick

Link builders send outreach emails to universities and pretend to be alumni asking for a link to their latest venture.

Informational site trick

This is another ‘white hat’ link building scheme intended to deceive universities and non-profit organisations by creating an informational site on a dot org domain to represent it as a non-commercial website providing information on a specific topic of interest.

Once the links have been obtained, the link builder adds a cross-domain rel canonical to the linked pages instructing Google to send all the link equity to the commercial site.

All the previous links directed to the bogus non-commercial website have now been redirected to commercial websites.

Broken PDF link scheme

The link builders identify popular US government or non-profit PDF files or web pages moved to a new URL, and then creates a bogus non-commercial website on a dot org domain and presents it as the new home for the information that was previously hosted on the government or non-profit website.

They then contact all websites that have links to the old URL (which is now broken) and ask that the link be updated to the new home of the documents and information.

Once the sites link to the new URLs on their fake dot org site, they redirect all the links to the client site.

Niche edit

Some link builders do a niche edit in which they will add a link to a web page that already exists.
However, niche edits got a bad rap in 2019 because some links were associated with hacked sites.

Buzzfeed reported on a link scheme that used niche edit links, in which Russian hackers sold links from compromised sites. It was discovered that web pages being edited to add a link were hacked sites used to sell links.

Content spammers are using AI tools to rewrite popular content. There are numerous content and link schemes so it’s no wonder Google has turned to artificial intelligence to try to stay ahead of it.

Why are there two Google spam updates?

Google did not explain why there are two spam updates and only stated that the two updates, which were released one week apart and lasted a single day, were related. They didn’t indicate if the updates were AI-related or involved a new technology.

Spam update — Part 1

28 June 2021

Google announced the rollout of the second anti-spam update. Similar to the 23 June spam update, it will finish rolling out the same day.

Spam generated by hacked websites is one of the types of spam addressed in that announcement. Google indicated that it is not a problem that they can solve on their own and urged publishers to keep their site software up to date to prevent hacking events from occurring.

Google also provided a link to their webmaster guidelines which lists the following types of spam that publishers should avoid:

  • Autogenerated content
  • Link schemes
  • Unoriginal content
  • Cloaking
  • Hidden text or links
  • Doorway pages
  • Scraped content
  • Abusing structured data

Link schemes in particular are a prevalent form of manipulating Google’s search results. It’s big business to figure out how to trick websites into linking to other sites. It’s debatable whether Google’s AI can detect these link schemes, some of which were created by so-called white hats.

Spam update

23 June 2021

Google confirmed the rollout of a spam-related algorithm update on 23 June 23 but the exact details regarding this update were not provided. However, any website following Google’s webmaster guidelines did not need to worry about it.

Google’s definition of spam includes low quality websites tricking users into installing malware or providing personal information.

Phishing scams are also targeted among other bad actors who try to rank high in search results by impersonating highly relevant pages.

Even sites that adhere to Google’s guidelines can be vulnerable to hacked spam. If the site is not adequately secured, it may be serving spam to users without their knowledge.

If your site’s ranking suddenly drops due to this or future spam updates, you should examine its security and look for signs of a possible attack.

When a spam update hits a site, its content is demoted or removed from Google’s index.

Every day during 2020, Google’s automated systems prevented 25 billion spammy pages from being indexed in search results.

Page experience update

15 June 2021

Google announced the rollout of the long-awaited page experience update. According to Google, any unexpected drops or spikes would be mitigated by the gradual rollout process.

Known victims protection

10 June 2021

Google outlined its efforts to improve the algorithm to penalise sites that “employ exploitative removal practices” and “predatory practices”. The post also directed people to a website where they could report online harassment.

Broad core algorithm update

2 June 2021

Google announced on Twitter that a major core algorithm update was on its way. Some planned improvements that were not ready for this update would be included in a second broad core algorithm update.

Product reviews update

8 April 2021

Google created this new search ranking algorithm update to reward “in-depth research-based product reviews, over thin content that simply summarises several products”. In their announcement, they also shared nine useful questions to consider when creating and publishing product reviews.

Passage ranking

10 February 2021

Google announced on Twitter that passage ranking is now available in the United States for English-language queries. It indicated this change didn’t mean that individual passages were being indexed independently of pages. Instead, they were now also considering passages from pages as an additional ranking factor.

We stay ahead of the game

These are just a mere handful of the thousands of updates that Google carries out to its algorithms each year. Staying on top of these updates is one thing, understanding them and taking the necessary actions is another, particularly when you have a business to run and a long list of other tasks each and every day. Online Path invest the time to understand algorithm updates, what they mean and any actions that need to be taken to keep our client’s website ranking highly in Google search results. Contact us today to find out how we can help get your boost the performance of your business by pushing your website higher in search results.

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