Unraveling Google's Algorithm

Overview of Google’s Algorithm

Google’s main job is to find you exactly what you’re looking for on the web, no matter how you search for it.

But let’s face it; Google is a glorified computer program, with thoughts barely extending beyond 1’s and 0’s. So to accomplish that goal, Google needs to constantly update and tweak their search algorithms to ensure the right information is taken in the right context, and the right information is delivered in return. And with billions of pages on the internet, this is no easy task.

That’s why search engine optimization experts spend vast amounts of time poring over in-depth technical articles and press releases to keep themselves up to date with Google’s current algorithms, to ensure their client’s websites stay at the top of search results.



The first important update to know about is Panda. Back in 2011, Google introduced this search filter to reduce the prevalence of websites with low-quality content appearing in the top results.

Think of it as quality control; Google doesn’t want to show users poor content, so they rank websites with well-written, quality articles higher than those with low-grade or little content.



Next, we look at Hummingbird. This Google algorithm change, implemented in September 2013, improves the contextual understanding of the search engine. Now, Google analyzes each and every word of a query to determine the intent of your search even deeper.

The easiest way to understand this is Google is focusing on “conversational searches”, such as those from virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa. It helps the search engine understand the goal of a search query, such as determining whether you’re looking for a restaurant that serves a specific dish versus a recipe for that dish.



As the name might imply, this algorithm update introduced in 2015 gives websites that are mobile-friendly a boost in the search rankings. That means that if your site is not optimized for mobile devices and tablets, it’s going to be significantly harder for people to find you after this update.

Luckily, Google provides webmasters search engine optimization experts with a useful Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. This allows you to check your website to ensure it is properly optimized for these devices.



This Google algorithm update brought major changes to local search results for business listings. Most notably, it did two things:

1. Businesses outside city limits got a boost

Before this update, businesses that were located outside of the designated limits of a city would have been filtered from the search results. However, after the Possum update, many of these businesses have experienced notable improvement in their local 3-pack rankings.

2. Affiliation-based filters

When several businesses within the same industry share a building, it is now more likely that only one or two of those businesses will appear in search results after this algorithm update.



Although never officially confirmed, this Google algorithm change brought panic to many webmasters and search engine optimization experts alike. It is theorized that this update focused on penalizing sites that implement aggressive monetization strategies and poor backlink quality.

To combat the negative effects of this update, it is important to emphasize improving the quality of the content and user experience of your website, as well as your website’s on-page search engine optimization practices.



The Pidgeon update improves the ties to their hundreds of web search signals, increasing the relevancy and accuracy of top search results. It also focuses on improving the distance and location ranking parameters in Google Maps.

This algorithm update is said to have only taken place in the US and has not been confirmed in other countries at this time.

Edward Lahm

Author Edward Lahm

2018 graduate of Temple University, experienced SEO guy at Infinity Digital, 9-time rewatcher of The Office, groove-keeper for Presidential Top Knot, and lover of great beers! Something I take great pride in is helping small businesses stay competitive online amidst their fierce competition using the many elements of digital marketing.

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