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In the world of search engine optimisation (SEO), you could be forgiven for believing that appeasing the Google search algorithm is the width and breadth of the entire practise. Since Google is the world’s most used search engine it makes sense that SEO tactics are tailored heavily to meet the standards Google sets out.

Following Google’s guidelines are not only essential to getting a high ranking but essential to avoiding a rankings penalty or a ban for breaking the rules. It is in this way that the Google algorithm sets out the ground rules for how websites can gain organic visibility.

Since the Google algorithms goes through hundreds of minor updates and tweaks each year, it is easier to count major iterations of the algorithm one after the other. Major named updates like Google Panda or Google Penguin provide significant changes to the search algorithm that completely turn the SEO game on its head.

Let’s take a look at how the Google algorithm has affected SEO over time.

Shutting down black hat operators

With the Florida update in 2003 we saw the first major steps being taken by Google to address black hat SEO tactics like keyword stuffing. The following updates Jagger and Big Daddy went even further in shutting down insincere, paid-for backlinks networks.

The Google algorithm, responding to a constantly expanding and more complex internet, set the stage for itself as a policing tool as much as it was an indexer. Now, black hat SEO operators would need to try and find new ways to work around the Google algorithm which always seems to be one step ahead.

Shutting down content farms

Google’s next big update, Panda, effectively turned 12% of the internet on its head as many sites were listed as ‘content farms’. These sites were accused of pushing low-quality, thin content for the sake of SEO purposes and were not considered sincere search results.

Shutting down even more backlinks

Google’s infamous Penguin update is probably the most well-known as it effectively shut down the many inauthentic backlinking networks that had been set up in order to push sites inorganically.

Shutting down EMD’s

Exact match domains (EMD’s) allowed operators to target keywords in the domain name of their website’s URL. Google patched this so that low quality domains that targeted keyword in their domain did not rank highly for those keywords.