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The latest Google search algorithm updates for SEO success

June 28, 2024

In 2024, Google remains the top choice for finding answers online. That’s why it continuously refines its search policies and algorithms to improve user experience (UX) and provide more accurate search results. 

Discover what these updates are to ensure your website stays visible and caters to how people search today. Don’t fall behind in the dynamic digital world. Check the latest Google updates here using this helpful guide from QWERTYLABS.

What are Google updates?

These changes to Google’s complex systems affect how websites rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). Think of it like Google constantly making improvements behind the scenes to guarantee you find the most relevant and helpful info. 

You’ll find a summary of the key characteristics of these updates below.

Types Most involve tweaks that enhance functions, such as database refreshes or strengthening security features. Others are major upgrades to Google’s core algorithm.
PurposeAll updates aim to improve Google’s services for delivering high-value content that answers users’ questions and gives a great UX.
Frequency Minor updates happen more often and are rolled out manually for specific regions. Meanwhile, major ones happen less often but seamlessly integrate into the core algorithm to keep things fresh. 
Publicity While some go unnoticed, core updates receive a lot of publicity through big announcements.

The core algorithm is the secret recipe behind Google’s search engine. It decides which websites appear at the top of SERPs. No matter the update, the main objective is to provide the best possible results for every online search. 

By updating its algorithm, Google ensures it can display websites that offer high-quality and valuable content that directly answers your questions. 

The effect of updates on your website

Google updates can cause some bumps in the road, but there’s no need to worry. When an update hits, it’s normal to see changes in your website traffic and search rankings. However, how much it affects you depends on your content and web design.

Here’s the surprising part: even high-quality content might temporarily dip right after an update. Don’t worry; it typically bounces back to normal soon after.

Here are some things you can expect to see before, during, and after a new update:

SERP volatilityStrange movements in your rankings and traffic could mean an update in progress, a test of a new update, or one already being rolled out.
Low-quality content ranking highInstances of low-quality content randomly rank high. This can prompt Google to revisit and adjust the update.
High-ranking websites losing trafficSystem changes can suddenly cause top websites to lose traffic. Don’t rush into making SEO changes while this happens, as you may not have enough info about the update yet.

In the long run, websites with informative and relevant content tend to climb higher in SERPs after an update. On the other hand, those with low-quality content or using tricks to appear higher might see the opposite effect. 

How often does Google update?

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Google regularly updates its algorithm 500 to 600 times yearly to keep search results fresh and relevant. These tweaks can be minor or major. The big ones, called Google core updates, might require website owners to adjust their SEO strategy to stay competitive in search results.

The key to SEO success is understanding the latest Google algorithm updates and knowing what it values most in websites. While Google might not reveal its updates’ exact time frame, it shares info about past updates and offers resources to track potential new ones. This way, you’re prepared to adapt your SEO approach if needed.

Core updates over the years

Google has changed a lot since its creation in 1998. At first, it was a basic search engine that found web content based solely on the words typed. Through strategic updates, the algorithm has evolved to become much smarter.

Explore the Google search algorithm updates timeline below to understand its evolution.

Core updatesNotable updates
Google Panda (2011)Focused on content qualityPenalised low-quality content, duplicate content, keyword stuffing, etc.
Google Penguin (2012)Targeted sites with spammy and manipulative backlinks Penalised websites with excessive links and keyword stuffing.
Google Venice (2012)Improved local SEOLearned how to recognise local search intent.
Google Hummingbird (2013)Introduced semantic search capabilitiesImproved interpretation of context and search intent.
Google Pigeon (2014)Enhanced local SEO for businessesGave more accurate and relevant local search results.
Google RankBrain (2015)Introduced machine learningLearned how to filter search results.
Google Mobilegeddon (2015)Prioritised mobile-friendly websites for mobile users.
Google Medic (2016)Targeted Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages that can impact a user’s well-beingFavoured websites with experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).
Google BERT (2019)Employed natural language processing modelRecognised the context hidden in the search terms.
Product Review (2021)Prioritised websites that offer authentic product reviews.
E.E.A.T Helpful content (2022)Started considering helpful content as a ranking factorRemoved websites with low-value or not specificTop-ranking websites exhibit E-E-A-T criteria.
Core updates (several times a year)Broad, unnamed updates over the years that influenced how websites ranked on SERPs.

Latest SEO updates by Google

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Google is dedicated to constantly improving its platform. These enhancements help it respond to unique searches and deliver the most relevant answers, making it feel almost like Google can read your mind. 

The Google update 2024 has functions to make browsing smoother and more effective. Explore the Google new features introduced recently here:

Site reputation abuse

In its May 2024 update, Google is targeting spammy SEO tactics called ‘parasite SEO’. This refers to placing low-quality content on reputable websites, often created by others. Imagine a trusted educational platform suddenly filled with payday loan reviews—the kind of scheme Google wants to stop.

They will use automatic and manual actions to penalise those who use this tactic. This means third-party websites can no longer piggyback on the reputation of established brands to boost their search rankings.

This update was announced in advance in March 2024, giving website owners time to clean up their websites and avoid penalties.

March 2024 core update

Google's major update was more complex, upgrading several core ranking systems simultaneously, which caused more fluctuations in search rankings than usual. The goal was to reduce unhelpful content by 40%, making search results more relevant. A key change is that Google’s helpful content system is now permanently part of its core algorithm.

March 2024 spam updates

Google implemented a significant spam update to combat spammy tactics using algorithmic spam systems and manual actions, addressing two new types of spam:

  • Scaled content abuse: Publishing low-quality content in bulk, whether by AI or humans, to boost search rankings.
  • Expired domain abuse: Buying expired domains and repurposing them to pass on the search value.
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Google updates from 2023 you may have missed

‘Openness’ local search update

Google updated local search rankings to help users find open stores more easily. Having accurate business hours can now help you rank higher. Transparency is essential, and Google endorses open stores when customers need them.

November 2023 reviews update

Google expanded reviews to include services, places, and media such as movies or video games. This means doing reviews for restaurants or local services now has a bigger impact. This also marked the last official announcement about review updates. They will no longer announce future ones.

October 2023 core update

If you noticed less traffic from Google Discover after October 5th, 2023, there is a simple answer. Google found a bug in its October core update that affected Discover website traffic. This update addressed the technical glitch that caused top-performing sites to drop rankings.

October 2023 spam update

Google aimed to clean up search results in multiple languages, including Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, and Chinese. This update helped Google better identify and remove spam content, including:

  • Hidden content (cloaking)
  • Hacked websites
  • Auto-generated content 
  • Stolen content (scraped).

Impact of Google Updates on SEO

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Google updates for SEO have a major effect on how brands optimise their websites, which in turn impacts their SERP position. By being aware of new updates and adapting your website accordingly, you can increase your chances of getting higher rankings and attracting more visitors. 

Here are some key areas that’ll influence your rankings when Google makes an update:

On-page optimisation

Get noticed online by creating content that fits Google’s criteria. Updates can greatly impact your on-page elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and overall structure. Imagine a store that’s messy and hard to find. Your website will not rank well if it gives off the same impression.

Core updates like Panda emphasise high-quality content that users enjoy. Today, the quality and relevance of your content are vital factors in your search rankings.

Link building

Google updates can also influence your link-building strategy. The Penguin update targeted websites with low-quality or spammy links, causing their rankings to drop. This showed that Google values high-quality, natural links.

You want connections with reputable sources, not just anyone online. Focusing on quality links can ensure better search engine visibility in the long run.

User experience (UX)

Google also cares about how happy your website visitors are. Many core updates like Pigeon and BERT highlighted the importance of creating a smooth and enjoyable UX. This includes how fast your website loads, whether it works well on mobile phones, and how engaged visitors are with your content.

Google wants users to have a positive experience when they visit your website. So, those who prioritise UX are more likely to rank higher in search results.

Adapting Google updates for SEO strategies

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Make it a habit to adapt your content strategies to recent Google SEO updates so that your website ranks well. Google loves websites with content that users find helpful. Following the latest SEO trends can give your website a real boost.

Here are some strategies you can implement to ensure your website stays up-to-date with Google’s ranking system:

Understanding Google’s core values

In Google’s eyes, knowledge is power—but so is how you share it. The search engine values expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in your niche. So, the deeper you understand your topic and the more credible you appear, the better.

However, it’s not just about what you know; it’s also about making it clear and easy to digest. Your website should be informative, engaging, and mobile-friendly. This ensures users have a good experience while finding the answers they need.

Staying informed about algorithm updates

Google’s search engine is constantly adapting to give you the best results. Big updates can sometimes shake up search rankings, so staying informed is critical.

Here are two great ways to follow the latest SEO news:

  • Check out Google’s Search Central blog and developer documentation for official updates from the source.
  • Follow reliable SEO websites like QWERTYLABS. These experts offer valuable insights on the latest algorithm changes.

By reading official and trusted sources, you can stay ahead of the curve and keep your website ranking high in search results.

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Monitoring your websit​​e’s performance

How do you know if a Google update has hit your website? Look at the data! Use free tools like the Google Search Console to check your website’s search performance. You can see if a particular update has affected your website by tracking factors like how you rank for specific keywords, how much organic traffic you get, and how many people click on your links.

Remember that some ups and downs are normal, especially after an update. The best action is to monitor your website’s performance during and after the update.

Optimise your web content

It’s crucial to keep creating valuable content. This doesn’t mean writing longer articles for the sake of it. Focus on understanding what users are searching for when creating content. Keyword research tools can help you discover the questions people are asking online. Then, you can craft your content to answer those questions. 

Further, try incorporating high-quality images, infographics, and videos, as these capture users’ attention and enhance their experience. By strategically using these visual elements, you can turn your website into a one-stop shop for helpful information.

Keep your technical SEO in check

Great content is a must for SEO, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Technical SEO is just as important. Here are three things to focus on:

  1. Mobile-friendliness

Most people search on their phones, so Google prioritises websites that look good and work smoothly on smaller screens. 

  1. Website speed

No one likes waiting for a slow website. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to check your website’s speed and see how to make it faster.

  1. Website structure

Search engines need to understand how you organise your website. A clear hierarchy of pages makes it easier for them to find and index your content.

Build strong backlinks

The more high-quality backlinks you have, the more trustworthy and established your website appears to Google. The best way to get backlinks is naturally. This could involve guest blogging on relevant websites in your niche or creating top-notch content that others would want to link to.

As per the Penguin update, Google doesn’t like it when you cheat by buying backlinks or engaging in shady schemes. Instead, try to get natural backlinks from high-quality websites relevant to your niche and have a strong online reputation.

Leverage the power of structured data

Structured data is a way to communicate with search engines using unique code. It’s like adding labels to your website content and explaining what it is (products, reviews, help centres, etc.). This helps search engines understand your website better when they crawl it.

Here’s why you’d want to take advantage of this:

  • SERPs offer ‘rich results’, snippets that show key details like star product ratings or your store address.
  • Users are more likely to click on links that are easy to read and straight to the point. Rich snippets that display relevant info are exactly that.

There are a lot of online tools and resources that can help you translate your website content into structured data. Don’t miss out on this feature to give your website an edge over competitors.

Stay informed with the latest Google updates and SEO practices with QWERTYLABS

By staying on top of Google’s latest updates and best practices, QWERTYLABS can help you to utilise the power of content. We’ll help your website connect with the right people, furthering your position as an industry leader. We’ll also work on your brand’s reputation with effective SEO strategies and help you appear on the coveted first page of search results.

You can expect a lot of algorithm updates in the future, which may require you to update your content optimisation efforts. To stay ahead of the trends, partner with the experts at QWERTYLABS. Don’t wait for the next update to impact your rankings. Contact us today and discover how our services can keep your website on top.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many Google algorithm updates per year?

Google keeps its search engine running smoothly with hundreds of updates every year. These can be minor tweaks or core updates that change how people find things online.

While the exact number of updates isn’t publicly known, experts estimate that around 500 to 600 updates happen yearly.

Can I utilise Google updates with various SEO strategies?

You can use the updates to benefit your SEO efforts. By knowing what Google prioritises in websites, you can align your SEO strategies with the nature of the updates. This ensures your website remains resilient to changes and continues to perform well.

What role does SEO play when adapting to new Google updates?

SEO can help website owners and marketers understand and monitor how an update impacts your website. With the right knowledge, you can adjust your strategy to remain visible and rank high in SERPs even after an update.

How do the recent Google updates affect a website’s ranking?

Because of the recent updates, your website can rank higher if:

  • You deliver informative and valuable content.
  • It works well on phones and tablets.
  • It’s easy and enjoyable to use.
  • You have a strong and reliable backlinks profile.

Your website can rank lower if:

  • You publish low-quality and spam content.
  • The website speed is slow.
  • The website design is messy.
  • You try to cheat the system with fake links.
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