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Google Algorithms & Updates That Are Focused on User Experience

Optimizing for the user has never been more crucial than it is now, as search’s role expands to include many marketing and consumer touchpoints. Google’s ongoing emphasis on the searcher experience shows this. Whether in terms of its fundamental algorithmic improvements, new functions, goods, or SERP format modifications. While some of these Google upgrades have targeted spam, links, and low-quality content, other modifications try to better comprehend user intent and behavior.

For instance, the most recent improvements have prioritized product reviews, Core Web Vitals, and page speed. Due to the fierce rivalry between businesses for SERP real estate, even little decreases in position will have a significant effect on traffic, earnings, and conversions. In this post, I look at a selection of Google updates and technological developments that, from Panda in 2011 through Page and Product Experience in 2021 and 2022, significantly demonstrate the search engine’s focus on the human user and their online experiences.

Google Panda (2011)

After being introduced in February 2011, continual improvements were made to Google’s core algorithm. One of the earliest signs that Google was paying attention to content for the user experience was the announcement that Panda will target websites with poor content.

Producing and improving original, captivating content is the main goal.

  • Focus on producing high-quality information rather than producing thin stuff.
  • Assess quality before quantity.
  • Although content length is not important, it must provide information that satisfies the user’s needs.
  • Avoid duplicating material, which used to be a major worry for e-commerce websites. John Mueller from Google has clarified that duplicate content is not a ranking issue.

Google Hummingbird (2013)

The semantic search-oriented Hummingbird emerged after the Knowledge Graph’s debut. To assist Google in comprehending the context and intent underlying searches, Hummingbird was created. It became crucial to optimize for user experience by focusing on material beyond the keyword with a renewed focus on the long tail as consumers wanted to enter searches more conversationally. This was the first instance where natural language processing (NLP) was used by Google to detect black hat SEO tactics and produce customized SERP results.

The goal is to produce and optimize content that people will want to read and find useful.

  • It became essential to use intent model tactics and long-tail keywords.
  • To accommodate user interests and learning preferences, content production is required.
  • Include conceptual and contextual elements in keyword research.
  • To personalize experiences, stay away from keyword stuffing and providing low-quality content.

E-A-T (2014)

The Google E-A-T idea first surfaced in 2014 in Google’s Quality Guidelines, despite receiving prominence in 2018. Now, it is a requirement of Google’s YMYL (your money or your life) rules. Marketers were encouraged to concentrate on material that might affect the future pleasure, health, financial security, or safety of their users. To give customers an experience that included the most relevant material from sources they may trust, Google produced E-A-T recommendations to assist advertisers in customizing on and off-page SEO and content strategies.

To put it another way: Knowledge, Credibility, and Trust.

Making sure websites provide knowledgeable and trustworthy content is the main goal.

  • Produce content that demonstrates your subject-matter competence and knowledge.
  • Pay attention to the authority and authenticity of websites that post content.
  • Enhance the overall security and structure of websites.
  • Earn off-page press coverage from reviews, testimonials, and knowledgeable authors on reliable websites.

Mobile Update (2015)

This was the first time Google informed advertisers of an impending update (or, for many, a warning). An important indicator showing the increased use of mobile as part of the consumer search journey was a focus on the user’s mobile experience. Google made it very clear that this update would give mobile-friendly websites preference in mobile SERPs. Then came a tonne more mobile upgrades. The emphasis is on mobile content and the user experience on mobile sites.

  • Emphasize design elements like mobile page frameworks and responsive design.
  • Improve the site’s navigation so users on mobile devices can locate what they need easily.
  • Prevent formatting difficulties that were different from the desktop experience on mobile.
  • Verify that websites are optimized for mobile use.

Google unobtrusively released a Quality upgrade shortly after the mobile version went live. Websites that prioritized the user experience by emphasizing high-quality information and staying away from excessive amounts of useless user-generated content and advertisements did well. This was again another indication that Google prioritized the user experience.

RankBrain (2015)

Similar to the Hummingbird principles and NLP that were previously discussed, Google RankBrain was more of an algorithmic shift. It demonstrated to us the importance of machine learning in all marketing and technological forms. RankBrain-powered search results are based on an even greater understanding of users’ intent thanks to this, which is used to learn and predict user behavior. The key points are making sure that content reflects user intent and conversational search optimization.

  • Increase your attention to detail and concentrate on producing content that is in line with user intent.
  • Make sure that technical SEO is updated in all respects (such as schema markup, for example).
  • According to Google, RankBrain is the third-most significant ranking signal.

Google Mobile-First Indexing (2018)

With the introduction of the “Mobile-First Indexing Update,” Google began indexing and ranking websites based on their mobile versions. Once more, the goal was to improve user experience and make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. Success became largely dependent on creating content for mobile devices and paying attention to speed and performance. Reiterating the value of content, speed, and mobile site performance was the main goal.

  • Improve AMP and mobile page speed and performance.
  • Ensure that URL structures for mobile and desktop sites meet Google requirements.
  • Add structured data for both desktop and mobile versions.
  • Make sure the mobile site contains the same content as the desktop site.

Google has said that March 2021 is the rollout date for its mobile-first index.

Shortly afterward, Google made mobile page speed a ranking factor so website owners would focus on load times and page speed to enhance the user experience.

Broad Core Algorithm Updates (2018)

Google updated its core algorithm frequently throughout 2018, making changes in areas like social signals and the so-called medic update. Particularly following the August change, Google’s John Mueller recommended making content more pertinent. While there was a considerable misunderstanding over ranking variables and how to resolve particular problems, it did force many SEO specialists and content marketers to prioritize E-A-T and content for the user.

BERT (2019)

This neural network-based approach to natural language processing, which came after RankBrain, helped Google comprehend conversational inquiries more effectively. Users can find useful and accurate information more quickly thanks to BERT. According to Google, this constituted one of the biggest advancements in search history and the biggest step forward in the last five years. The goal is to better understand consumer intent by utilizing conversational search topics.

  • Increase the content’s richness and specificity.
  • Focus more on phrases longer than three words and long-tail inquiries.
  • Make sure the material is optimized properly and responds to the users’ questions or queries.
  • Ensure that your writing is easy to grasp by writing for humans clearly and concisely.

COVID-19 Pandemic (March 2020)

As Google continued to prioritize E-A-T signals, the global pandemic meant that consumer behavior and search trends were permanently altered. As the internet struggled to deal with false information and SEO professionals found it difficult to keep up with the quick changes and dips in consumer behavior, Google started to stress YMYL signals.

The user’s demands have never been more crucial, from establishing round-the-clock incident response teams with the World Health Organization and controlling material to assisting individuals in finding useful information and avoiding false information. In addition to Google releasing a COVID-19 plan, demand for SEO reached an all-time high.

Google Page Experience Update And Core Web Vitals Announced (May 2020)

Measuring the user experience of a page by concentrating on a site’s technical health and metrics entails looking at how rapidly page content loads, how quickly a browser can respond to a user’s input while loading a webpage, and how unstable the material is as it loads in the browser.

The main objective is to measure and enhance on-page experiences by incorporating new Core Web Vitals indicators.

  • The Google Page Experience Signal includes mobile friendliness, secure surfing, HTTPS, and invasive interstitials.
  • Improve page load times for huge photos and video backdrops using LCP (Largest Contentful Paint).
  • Make sure your browser reacts promptly to a user’s initial interaction with a website to minimize FID (First Input Delay).
  • Include size properties on your picture and video components, or use CSS aspect ratio boxes to reserve the space, and make sure that no new material is ever added on top of existing content unless it is in reaction to user input.
Broad Core Algorithm Updates (2020)

In December 2020, the third Google core algorithm upgrade of the year went live. This took the shape of minor adjustments to the weight and ranking of a few (rarely reported) ranking signals.

Passage Ranking (February 2021)

Google formally launched its passage-based indexing, which is intended to assist users in finding particular answers to questions. This enables Google to highlight important passages within a piece of text that relate to the question. You’ve seen it in action.

This implies that lengthy content that might not be skimmable but offers insightful answers may surface as a result. In the end, this enables Google to connect consumers to material more quickly without having to have them search for a specific response to their queries after clicking a page.

Returning to the idea of generating excellent material for the user, the secret to success with passage ranking is to do so.

Product Reviews Update (April 2021)

The purpose of this new product review update is to make it easier for users to find product reviews. Marketers were urged to concentrate on staying away from producing flimsy content because this update will favor the articles that customers find most useful.

The emphasis is on compensating content producers that offer users honest and thorough review content. Google provided nine practical queries to take into account while writing and publishing product reviews.

  • The display industry expertise of the products.
  • Make your goods stand out from the competition.
  • Clearly and succinctly state any advantages as well as any downsides.
  • Display how the product has changed to meet the user’s needs.
MUM (May 2021)

MUM (Multitask Unified Model) technology uses AI and NLP to enhance information retrieval, similar to RankBrain and BERT. This technological development assists the end user by processing many media types, including audio, video, and photos, to produce better information and outcomes.

Page Experience Update And Core Web Vitals (CWV) Rollout (June 2021)

The eagerly awaited Page Experience Update, which introduced Core Web Vitals, went live. Additional desktop enhancements will be released in March 2022. New research revealed how many sectors are modifying and enhancing their Core Web Vitals, nine months after the release of Google’s Core Web Vitals and more than a year after BrightEdge introduced pre-roll predictive research.

  • The goal is to swiftly and accurately enhance consumers’ Page Experiences.
  • Retail behemoths have improved experiences significantly.
  • CWV measures like input delay have been reduced in half in scenarios like Retail.
  • Even though Finance was the category with the finest preparation the previous year, it improved its performance the least.

Spam Update (June 2021) And Link Spam Algorithm Update (July 2021)

A positive experience starts with ensuring consumers receive the appropriate results depending on their searches. Updates and algorithm modifications also serve to safeguard user privacy to make searches safe and secure.

The goal is to safeguard user experiences.

Local Search Update (November 2021))

Google has always offered local search consumers updates and improved its algorithm to produce better user results. It’s important not to undervalue the power of local search, but that’s a topic for another essay. Additionally, this gives pointers on how companies might raise their local rankings for better client experiences.

Product Algorithm Update (March 2022)

Google updated its instructions on March 23, 2022, based on how product reviews had performed the previous year. The community was also made aware of the better rollout updates, which would assist consumers in surfacing accurate and pertinent information to support purchasing decisions. User experience and results that facilitate purchases are the main areas of attention.

Conclusion

A successful user experience requires both technological know-how and relevant content. Marketers are assisted in producing content for the consumer through updates and advice. Additionally, Google surfaces better results and presents accurate, pertinent, and reliable content as a result of algorithms and technical developments.

Google will keep putting its attention toward enhancing user experiences. As a marketer who wants to optimize for both, it’s critical to pay attention to content and the navigation, speed, and reliability of your website. Numerous Google improvements indicate a convergence of the best practices in technical SEO, data science, and content marketing.