If you’ve been in digital marketing for a while, you know how much Google algorithms can impact your website’s visibility, for better or worse. You’re ranking high one day, and the next day, you wonder what went wrong.
Because they are like the weather forecast for your digital presence—always subject to change and capable of affecting your day. Algorithms get updated or retired.
Knowing which ones have been retired can help you understand the current priorities of Google’s search engine. So, let’s get into it and see what’s changed!
Google Algorithms Keep Changing
For a good reason, Google’s search engine algorithms are constantly in flux. The aim is to provide the best possible user experience.
When you type a query into the search bar, Google wants to ensure that the most relevant, high-quality information appears at the top of your search results. To achieve this, Google continually refines its algorithms, affecting how websites are ranked.
In the past, Google algorithms like Hummingbird were designed to understand the context of a search query better. Then came the Mobile-friendly Ranking System, which preferred websites optimized for mobile devices.
Page speed was another big focus. Google had a separate algorithm that rewarded websites that loaded quickly.
But now, that’s been integrated into a broader set of metrics known as Core Web Vitals, which look at various aspects like loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of a page.
So, why does all this matter? Well, understanding these shifts can help you better align your SEO strategies with what Google considers important right now: not chasing the latest trends but understanding the underlying principles that guide these changes.
Google Algorithms that Have Been Retired
Let’s look at some that have been retired. Understanding these can offer insights into the current state of SEO and what Google considers necessary.
Hummingbird understands the context of a search query. It wasn’t keyword-centric but aimed to grasp the intent behind the words you typed into the search bar.
Before Hummingbird, if you typed “best coffee shops,” you’d get results based on those keywords. Hummingbird tried to understand what you were actually looking for—maybe the closest coffee shops with high ratings.
Mobile-friendly Ranking System
With the explosion of smartphone usage, people were increasingly searching on the go. A site that wasn’t mobile-friendly was a hassle to navigate on a small screen, leading to a poor user experience.
This algorithm gave a boost to websites that were optimized for mobile devices. If your site looked good and functioned well on a smartphone, Google considered that when ranking your site.
Panda was all about content quality. It aimed to lower the rankings of “low-quality” or “thin” sites and boost the rankings of sites with valuable, high-quality content.
Why did it matter? The internet was becoming a dumping ground for poor-quality content. Many websites produced low-value articles stuffed with keywords, hoping to game the system. Panda stopped that, forcing websites to focus on quality over quantity.
Panda is no longer a separate entity, but its functionalities have been absorbed into Google’s main algorithm. So, while you won’t see updates specifically named “Panda,” the focus on high-quality content remains a cornerstone of Google’s ranking criteria.
Page Speed System
Slow-loading websites is a user experience nightmare. We’ve all felt the frustration of staring at a loading screen. Google algorithms wanted the best user experience, including quick page loading times.
The Page Speed System was designed to reward websites that loaded quickly. You’d get a little rank bump if your site were a speedster. While the Page Speed System as a standalone algorithm is no more, its principles are far from forgotten.
How? The system has been incorporated into Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics that measure a website’s speed, interactivity, and visual stability.
The link-building scene was like the Wild West before Penguin. Websites were acquiring links through shady practices, undermining the integrity of search results.
Penguin aimed to catch sites spamming search results and level the playing field by penalizing such behavior. Specifically, it targeted websites buying links or using link networks to boost their rankings artificially.
Right now, this system has been integrated into the core of Google algorithms, meaning that spammy link-building practices are still penalized. So, if you’re thinking about taking shortcuts with your link-building strategies, you should reconsider.
Secure Sites System
Security is a big deal, especially when sensitive information is involved. Google wanted to incentivize website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to offer a more secure browsing experience.
That’s why this algorithm gave a slight ranking boost to websites that used HTTPS, making web security a ranking factor for the first time.
Although the Secure Sites System may have been retired, but the emphasis on website security hasn’t diminished. It’s still a ranking factor, just not a standalone one.
The Page Experience Update is a comprehensive approach by Google algorithms to evaluate the quality of the content on a webpage and the overall user experience it provides.
Core Web Vitals
It’s a set of metrics that Google has identified as crucial for a good user experience. These vitals look at the loading performance of a page, its interactivity, and its visual stability.
While excelling in these areas is highly recommended, it’s worth noting that good Core Web Vitals alone won’t guarantee you a top spot in the search rankings.
Security is another cornerstone of the Page Experience Update. Google checks if your website is served over HTTPS, a secure version of HTTP. This is especially important if your site handles sensitive information like personal data or financial transactions.
With the surge in smartphone usage, it’s imperative that your website is optimized for mobile viewing. Google search engine’s algorithms now check for this and can penalize your site in rankings if it’s not up to par.
Google evaluates whether the ads on your page are too intrusive or distract from the main content. The idea is to ensure that users can easily access the information they seek without being bombarded by ads.
Ease of Navigation
Google looks at how straightforward it is for users to find the information they’re seeking on your site. If your website is cluttered with pop-ups or has a confusing layout, that could negatively impact your rankings.
Conclusion The Latest Update of Google Algorithms
In wrapping up, it’s clear that Google search engine’s algorithms constantly evolve. While some older algorithms have been retired, their core principles often find a new home in updated algorithms.
For example, the focus on mobile usability and page speed has been integrated into broader metrics like Core Web Vitals. Security and content quality remain constant priorities.
The Page Experience Update marks a shift towards a more comprehensive approach to SEO, emphasizing content and user experience. Understanding these changes and their foundational principles is vital to SEO success.
So, you’ve got the rundown on the changes in Google algorithms, both past and present. It’s a lot to take in, right? Keeping up with these changes can feel like a full-time job. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to go it alone.
Check out SEO Services from Essentials! We focus on optimizing all your digital assets, so you don’t have to sweat about keeping up with every algorithm twist and turn. Visit us, and let’s make your SEO life a whole lot easier.