“I don’t know, let me Google that.” is more than a common phrase in our vocabulary, it’s become a cornerstone of society. In America, for example, roughly ¾ of Americans have access to the internet, and globally 63,000 Google searches happen every second.
With sites dedicated to every topic imaginable, how does Google know which ones to display after your search query? The answer is their revolutionary search algorithm. It’s constantly being updated, and in 2018, 9 updates were released each day.
This is a testament to Google’s goal of providing relevant content to its users. This article is designed to explain the 7 updates that are more than likely affecting your website, what is causing your website to be adversely affected by the update, and how you can remedy the situation.
In this article, we will cover the following updates to the search Algorithm
- Google Panda
- Google Penguin
- Google Hummingbird
- Google Pigeon
- Google Mobile Friendly
- Google Fred
- Google Top Heavy
We will also recommend several tools to help you optimize your content for the internet, and talk about the benefits of using each product, as well as why you should use each one, before publishing an article.
Google Panda Algorithm Update (Most Likely to Affect Your Site)
This portion of the Google Algorithm looks at the quality of the content on a website. The more unique the content is, the more likely the site is going to be pushed up to the top of the search query.
“Bland” content uses the same terms over and over again, like this sentence, because “over and over” could have been replaced with repeatability, and it would have worked.
What Causes a Site to Be Negatively Affected By Google Panda?
- Low-Quality Content- If your site has poorly written content full of grammar mistakes, irrelevant images, and content, or a lack of keyword richness hurts your article’s ranking on Google in the long run.
- Plagiarism- Google Panda loves original content. You can use images, upload videos, and add short sections of text as long as they’re in quotation marks. However, blatantly copying another website will adversely affect your Google Ranking.
How to Improve Your Rating if it’s Negatively Affected By Google Panda
- Write original content
- Proofread the page
- Use Grammarly to check for grammar mistakes
- Use Copyscape to check for plagiarism
How to Track Updates for Google Panda
Check your site at least once a month with Website Auditor. Use the SEO PowerSuite function to check for plagiarism, websites with content that is similar to yours, and excessive use of keywords or phrases people are searching for.
Google Penguin Algorithm Update
This program is similar to Google Panda, but rather than looking at the text itself; its focus is on the anchor texts and links being used. You want to use a variety of anchors and links, or it will appear as though your page is trying to link out to a particular site, or you’re using the anchor as a way to attract people to your page.
Using links from trusted sites or scholarly sources can positively impact your SEO rating. Besides, reputable sources linking to different domains like .com, .edu, and .org, can also boost your overall ranking.
What Causes a Site to Be Negatively Affected By Google Penguin?
- Being Repetitive- As previously mentioned, whether you are repeating an anchor or the website you’re linking to, both affect your ranking. This is because the Google Algorithm sees this as a way to artificially inflate your Google search ranking.
- Linking to Low-Quality Sites- By linking to sites that Google Panda ranks lowly, pages that are irrelevant to the content of your page, or unsecured sites, this can adversely affect your SEO ranking.
- As a quick example, if you have a food blog, linking to a page about the FBI’s most wanted would adversely affect your page’s rating.
- Keyword Stuffing- Although you would think that this would be what Google Panda would be doing, Penguin does it on a larger scale. This is because it looks for keyword richness in relationship to your anchor texts. If you repeat the same anchor, then you’ll have a lower ranking. Strive for keyword richness, not for repetition when it comes to anchor texts.
How to Track Updates for Google Penguin
Use a tool to check for growth and check your backlinks using a tool like SEO Spyglass. It’s an intuitive program, and you can look at your site’s overall visits, and ranking. If you see any spikes, it may be indicative of a problem with either a site you are linking to or a poorly written site, linking to your page.
Google Hummingbird Algorithm Update
This update is our favorite because it’s a great use of AI. What Hummingbird does is it takes what you searched for, and rather than search for what you typed, it tries to guess the motivation for your search, and directs you to sites that match your intended meaning.
This update works by keeping track of similar searches, and the sites that are clicked on the most, and have people stay on them the longest, will appear at the top of your search. This allows you to have a better chance of finding what you’re looking for.
What Causes a Site to Be Negatively Affected By Google Hummingbird?
- Low-Quality Content- If your content is vague, full of grammatical errors, or anything else that would be an issue with Google Panda or Google Penguin, then Hummingbird will not rank that page highly.
- Not Using Keywords Consistently- When writing an article, think about how people will find your page, and incorporate those searched words and phrases into your article. Have these words in not only the body but also the section headers and, if possible, the title.
How to Track Updates for Google Hummingbird
To get the best results with this update, use keywords and phrases, and think about how people will stumble upon your website. Be sure to include a variety of keywords and add as many similar terms and phrases in your article.
By playing with the syntax and language associated with your site, it will serve as a catchall. Because the site will be keyword-rich, Hummingbird will be more likely to boost you up the rankings, because a variety of keywords and well-written content are positively correlated.
Another tool you can take advantage of in Website Auditor is the Term Frequency–Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF). This will allow you to find synonyms that are commonly searched by people when looking up content relevant to your page.
It also can display usage rates of keywords found on other pages. Both of these features make TF-IDF useful for evaluating the importance of words and phrases associated with your site.
Google Pigeon Algorithm Update
This update is different from the others on the list because it’s focused on geographic location as opposed to content. Another thing that makes Pigeon different from other updates is that there isn’t necessarily a penalty associated with this update, because it would be hard to change the location of a business.
The way Pigeon displays the businesses is through a map of your area, and the closest business is point A, and there is also a point B and C. This allows you to see the general area of where a business is, before heading to it.
What Causes a Site to Be Negatively Affected By Google Pigeon?
- Distance- Pigeon displays the 3 closest businesses that provide what you’re looking for. The farther the store, the lower it will be on the ranking.
How to Track Updates for Google Pigeon
Since Google Pigeon works through geotags, and there aren’t penalties, rather than focus on updates, focus on how you can incorporate Google Pigeon’s parameters into your text. On your site, you can mention your physical address multiple times, and that may help boost your rankings below the map portion of the search results.
If you use the Website Auditor tool, we’ve been mentioning throughout this article; there’s a roundabout way to boost your SEO in relation to location. Go to Link Assistant, Look for Prospects, select Directories, and enter a keyword and location. By doing this at least once a month, you can be sure that you’re on all the directories relevant to your business.
For example, if you search OB-GYN and San Diego, the directory will show you a variety of pages that list your search parameters. There’s also an email address for each site, so you can email the host, asking for your website to be included. This helps spread links to different parts of the internet to help boost traffic.
Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update
When this update dropped, for a short period, it shook up SEO and rankings in a way that had never been seen before. Rather than focus on content, links, or locations, this update placed more importance on how user-friendly and how aesthetically pleasing a website would be on mobile devices.
A quick example of this update in action is if you Google “Santa’s reindeer names” on a PC and a phone, the order is slightly different, based on mobile optimization. Wikipedia, Holidappy, and Sno.co.uk host the top 3 links for PC, but on the mobile search Sno.co.uk is bumped to second, and Holidappy rounds out the top 3.
What Causes a Site to Be Negatively Affected By Google Mobile-Friendly?
There are a variety of factors that can affect this update, but we’re going to limit our list to 5
- The Design- When creating a website, you should build it in a way to where it can detect if it’s accessed from a mobile device or a PC, and load the page optimized the device. This is done to improve the functionality of mobile devices because tapping in and out to zoom would discourage users from going to your site.
- Device Friendly Content- Be mindful of what is on your page before adding it to the mobile version. This is because some software won’t be compatible with all devices. A great example of this is Adobe Flash doesn’t work on some phone models, and this may negatively impact your ranking, due to inaccessibility.
- Popup Advertisements- These annoy users, but depending on the popup, it could cause issues for the viewer, due to NSFW content, or the possibility of malware. Instead of using pop up ads, consider ads on either side of the text, or used as a way to break up different sections.
- Lack of Functionality- This point piggybacks off of the design feature in the sense that you need to make text and interactive portions huge. This is because everything will shrink on the mobile version, and if you have large fingers, you’ll select the wrong option and have to go back and change your response.
- Loading Speeds- The slower the loading speed for the page, images, videos, and GIFs, the bigger hit it takes from this update. When it comes to mobile devices, they close slow pages faster than their PC counterparts.
How to Track Updates for Google Mobile Friendly
As you probably guessed, there’s an application on Website Auditor that can check for how well a site will read on a mobile device. To access this utility, select Content Analysis, then Technical Factors listed in the Page Audit Tab.
This update dings websites that have poor UX and loading speeds on mobile devices. By using this test, you can quickly check the mobile-friendliness of your site.
Google Fred Algorithm Update
Google Fred is the name for a variety of updates that were released that were designed to hurt the ranking of websites focused on generating ad revenue. When these updates dropped, it seemed as though a variety of pages were receiving large ranking boosts or drops.
Over time people were able to piece together some of the characteristics of all the websites that were positively or negatively affected, and each site had three things in common.
What Causes a Site to Be Negatively Affected By Google Fred?
- Focused on Ad Revenue- Google searches are designed to provide people with answers to a variety of questions. If your site has a large number of ads, then you’ll see a drop in your ranking. This is because Fred is focused on finding well-written content, not generating people money.
- Poorly Written Content- When we say poor, this is bland, repetitive content. This served as an update to Panda because Google Panda was released 6 years before Fred. By lacking original content, or having articles with grammar mistakes, Google Fred lowers your page’s ranking.
- Low-Quality UI and UX- Besides the text, Fred focused on the aesthetic appeal of webpages. Google Mobile-Friendly applied to mobile devices, but Fred introduced the same ranking system for desktop users as well. This leads to poorly designed sites, or those with frequent popups to be bumped from the top of the search results query.
How to Track Updates for Google Fred
Review Google Search Quality guidelines and have good-quality content that fits the parameters of those guidelines. Fred can also tell what is worthwhile content and what is keyword stuff ad pages, so consider keyword richness and fewer ads, to help boost your ranking.
Google Top Heavy Algorithm Update
This update works along the same lines as Google Fred, but this update is focused exclusively on ads. Rather it’s focused on pages that have a large number of ads near the beginning of the site; hence, it’s top-heavy.
What Causes a Site to Be Negatively Affected By Google Top Heavy?
- A large number of ads- If the Google algorithm feels as though you have too many ads at the beginning of your page, you will be moved to a lower position in the search engine results. This is because top-heavy sites are designed to generate ad revenue, and they have low-quality content that is stuffed with keywords to attract people.
How to Track Updates for Google Top Heavy
This page isn’t necessarily updated, but according to Google AdSense, you can have up to 3 ads per page. Also, AdSense has a heat map that shows the best places to insert ads, they’re generally at the top or bottom of a page, or used to break up various sections of an article.
Various Tools You Can Use to Increase the Quality of your Website
To make your site look like it was written by a team of professional writers, you can take advantage of a variety of programs to help create SEO friendly content. In this section, we will take a brief look at five different programs you can use to help boost the ranking of your website.
This is arguably the most useful tool on the list because it can do the function of the other four and then some. However, it is the most costly option out of the five listed. This is because of the number of features included.
If you host a large number of articles or are trying to broaden the reach of your site, then this is a worthwhile investment, because it’s one of the best programs available for optimizing web-based content.
Grammarly is a proofreading tool that checks the correctness, clarity, engagement, and delivery of a text. Correctness refers to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and these issues are highlighted in red. Clarity helps make your writing clear and concise and also highlights when you use passive voice.
Engagement looks at the text and makes it more interesting by giving you synonyms to terms, or helping your text match the overall tone of the article. Delivery works along similar lines as Engagement, but it’s more focused on the reader’s attitude.
Most of the time, issues with Delivery revolve around technical issues that are commonplace in writing, such as ending sentences with a preposition. By using these four broad categories, an article is assigned a value between 1 and 100.
You should make sure that after using this tool, you have 0 correctness flags because these are what updates such as Google Panda and to a lesser degree, Google Fred will look at. Grammarly also lets you proofread articles in one of four English localizations, which is useful if you are publishing content for both U.S. and British audiences.
Hemingway is a great tool that looks at the readability of your text. It assigns a reading level to it and highlights passages that are hard or very hard to read, the use of passive voice. When it comes to the use of adverbs or terms that have simpler alternatives, it will highlight these and give you the option to change or omit the word or phrase.
When using this tool, you want to have a score between Grade 5 and Grade 9. It’s ok if it’s a lower grade, but the readability of Grade 10 or higher needs to be simplified. An easy way to do this is by splitting up longer sentences into shorter ones.
This checks for plagiarism, which can negatively impact your search engine ranking with updates such as Google Panda, Google Fred, or Google Pirate. The site allows you to copy-paste the URL, or the text into a search box, and check for any piracy flags.
This will also highlight quotes that aren’t in quotation marks, so you can fix that before Google’s search algorithm hurts your rank.
SEOBook’s Keyword Density Analyzer
This is a useful site for checking the occurrence rate of words and phrases in an article. If the rate is larger than 2.5%, consider lowering the occurrence rate of that word by using synonyms or using words given by Hummingbird or the TF-IDF feature on Website Auditor.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of a large website that talks about all things tech, or a part-time blogger, who writes articles about a wide variety of subjects that they find interesting, both can make use of search engine optimization.
By creating original content that is focused on informing the public about something rather than generating a page that’s full of keywords, you’re going to climb up the Google results rankings. This will allow you to share your thoughts, feelings, and opinions with a wide audience.