Introduction to google algorithm and metrics

Google changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times a year

That’s up to twice updates each day.

Changes and improvements take time, making it a slow and steady process. Just like Google, which has improved its search algorithms over the years. This way, Google has provided us with more preferred results based on our individual preferences.


What Is Google Algorithm?

In simple terms, Google’s algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index. BTW, search index holds information of all websites around the web. This actually helps Google to instantly deliver the best possible results for a query in the shortest time possible.


A search engine uses a combination of algorithms and various other ranking factors to deliver web pages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages or SERPs for short.

Now, the most benefit that search engine offers are to us and online marketers. Marketers use special Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques that has improved their rankings based on specific keywords or queries that we use. This way they were able to sell their products and services online to their potential customers.


But have you ever wondered about the updates of Google? What have they changed over time?


Other than the updates to their looks, and fonts, most updates were to algorithms and metrics. This have impacted and constantly improving the SEO, search engine, personalized result and much more. This changed the SEO game for marketers forever.


History of Google algorithm updates

Google started its updates back in 2003 that started improving the search result metrics at a steady pace. Little by little, it has improved and became one of the most used search engines in the world for searching anything, popularizing the term “Google it”. Let’s go through each decade of upgrading as follows:


Google algorithm updates before 2010:


The first-ever update came in the form of Google toolbar, launched far back in the month of December 2000. It allowed users to search anything from any webpage, even it doesn’t have a search engine function. The toolbar later was discontinued, but the basic functions of the search remained in development, which changed the SEO game.

Later, updates to the Google algorithm were basically to counter the weird black hat practices that were widely used at that time. These practices include:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Invisible text
  • Meta-tag stuffing
  • Poor backlinking
  • Low-quality links
  • Duplicate content

Google algorithm updates between 2010 & 2020


This decade was one of the most productive for Google as they changed the SEO game. During this time there were many major core updates that introduced new features that were improvements to old ones. Following were the major updates that came during this era:

  • Panda – A major update in ‘modern SEO’, which is more focused on ‘On-Page SEO’. This often runs time to time.
  • Penguin – A unique update that check the backlinks of a website, if they are genuine or not.
  • Hummingbird – It is the groundwork laid for the voice -search option, still widely used today.
  • Pigeon – Another bird update from Google, which focused on local SEO. It improved results providing local/location based results.
  • RankBrain – This cutting-edge Google algorithm handles queries using machine learning. Simply put, it can make educated guesses about words it doesn’t know in order to find words with similar meanings and then provide relevant results.
  • Mobilegeddon – By 2015, there was an increase in smartphone users, which made this mobile update change the SEO game forever. It favored websites that were mobile friendly, which became a part of each web development from that point on.
  • Fred – This update affected websites with thin content who were more ads based. With this the importance of quality content on website became important.
  • Medic – Intrusive Interstitials Update – What if a website isn’t relevant to a search query? This update solves this problem by improving the match between intent and results based on the said query.
  • Payday – It was an algorithm that targeted spammy queries, spammy sites, and practices. This resulted in SEO professionals following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and risks associated with using gray/black hat SEO.
  • Bert – EMD (Exact Match Domain) – Google added a machine learning experience to its algorithm using BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) through Natural Language Processing or NLP. It identifies and understands the word in a context, word(s) before and after the in a query.
  • Core Updates – These updates include all algorithm fixes that Google improves time to time. Started back in 2019, it still continues today.
  • Page Layout Algorithm / Page Experience Updates – Through this update, real-life of user experience is measured using page experience signals combined with Core Web Vitals. This improved the overall website rankings of sites that had easy to navigate UI on desktop as well as on mobile.

Google algorithm updates for 2021


Between the Covid-19 lockdown, Google improved its page UI identifier through page layout / page experience update. This update took into account the user experience for a webpage based on their on-page actions. These improvements are clearly visible in Google’s search console, where you can monitor your Core Web Vitals and page experience to make actionable improvements.


Future algorithm updates:


During the Google I/O exhibition 2021, Google announced the MUM update, which will make big changes in search for the years to come.


Multitask United Model, or MUM for short, acts like a hint that points out at the power of this new algorithm. The idea behind it is that MUM will combine information from many sources to deliver a multi-layered answer to complex search queries. Although it’s still an announcement, its application is groundbreaking.


But don’t panic!

Since the dawn of Google, there were no guidelines or rules for ranking, which resulted in weird tactics. Once the algorithm updates started rolling in, self-claiming SEO professionals created rules, which all of us abide by. Those guidelines are still widely used today, with new modifications rolling in after each algorithm update.


What’s your take on the history of Google algorithm updates? Comment below.


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