Google's Primary Algorithm Updates Explained | AdvisorUp

Google is constantly updating its ranking algorithm. Usually these updates feature small tweaks, but often Google rolls out changes that can make or break a company’s SEO strategy. Read on to learn about Google’s most significant algorithm updates.


Panda was originally designed to filter out possible duplicate and plagiarized content. There was a lot of keyword stuffing and duplicated content being produced in 2011. Panda was launched in response to that. At first it simply worked as a filter, but in 2016 it was integrated with the main algorithm. Make sure that you check your sites regularly for any duplicated content, or content that might seem extraneous or contain too much of any keywords. Using a website auditor is a great way to track these things.


This update, first incorporated into the core algorithm in 2012, works to downgrade sites that have too much spam or irrelevant links. It has had a major impact on SEO strategies ever since. Now, a backlink cannot be from any site. It must be a from a site that can demonstrate that it shares relevant content and information. You can monitor your site’s link profiles using a backlink checker to make sure that your links are relevant and you are not being penalized.


Hummingbird works to try and decipher the intent of the searcher to produce more relevant search results. It combats keyword stuffing by looking at the entirety of content, not just by identifying keywords. Keywords are still vital for a good SEO strategy, but Hummingbird makes it theoretically possible for a site to rank for a certain search term without having that search term in the content. It does this by deciphering semantics, synonyms and terms that are often used together and interchangeably. As a result of Hummingbird, you need to make sure that your content contains natural language that is relevant to the keywords you are strategizing for.


Pigeon plays a vital role in local search rankings. It will tie together the core Google algorithm with the local algorithm. This means that the SEO factors used for non-location specific searches will not apply to local searches and results. To adjust to this, make sure your site is following solid SEO practices over all. Make sure to get listed in any local business listings and create content geared towards keywords and search terms that locals might use.

Mobile Friendly

An increasing number of users are doing their searching and web browsing on their phones and other devices. The mobile-friendly update was developed so that the rankings acknowledged those sites that were mobile friendly. As things have developed, if a page is not optimized for mobile, then it is not likely to rank high in the search results. A site that is optimized for mobile should be fast and easy to use. Google’s mobile-friendly update will take those factors into consideration as well.


RankBrain is in actuality a part of the Hummingbird algorithm. It helps to figure out how relevant a site’s content is in relation to queries. It weeds out sites that do not have enough relevant information outside of keywords. Make sure that your site is replete with solid, relevant content that will connect to the topics and keywords you are targeting.


Possum was integrated in 2016. It works to tie the searcher’s location to the search results. The closer that a searcher is to an address, the higher the likelihood that they will see that business in the local results. It has made it vital to (1) have an expanded keyword list to catch those who might not be close to the business address (2) to perform rank tracking that is specific to the business location. Make sure to check rankings for locations around the address as well to better show up for searchers from those outlying areas.

A quality SEO strategy is built around Google’s core algorithm. Hopefully this guide has given you a basic understanding of some of the most important Google updates in recent years so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.

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