The year 2019 was a big one for Google’s search algorithm updates. Each year, the search engine giant has refined itself to be more user-centric.
The complex, versatile, and often mysterious algorithms are continually changing how websites rank and how queries are answered. 2019 witnessed algorithm updates that went completely undetected and some that shook the SEO community. Words like ‘relevancy’, ‘content quality’, and ‘E-A-T’ became a norm and changed digital strategies forever.
As we greet the new year of 2020, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the changes that Google underwent in the past year. Paying close attention to previous changes can help marketers anticipate what the future may hold.
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SERP trackers suspected that Google was updating its algorithm around Feb 7. As valentine’s day approached, there was significant volatility in search engine results witnessed worldwide. Though Google hasn’t confirmed this update, based on history it can be assumed that Valentine’s Day Update targeted the E-A-T, Content Quality, and User Intent.
There may have been yet another Google Search Ranking Algorithm update. Although this one did not get confirmed. Apparently, this involved tweaks and updates to the previous updates.
This is one of the biggest Google updates in years. According to Danny Sullivan, “There’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
On April 4th, pages started dropping out of the Google index. April 5th, Google confirmed a Deindexing bug that was responsible for the drop. According to Moz, 4% of the Google index was impacted. Most sites recovered soon after.
Two days in a row, Google confirmed indexing bugs. Businesses that depended on getting traffic to fresh content were most affected by this bug. According to Danny Sullivan, this issue wasn’t related to the previous one.
Google announced via Twitter that the update was live and rolling out across Google’s data centers
Google Search Liaison also tweeted “There is nothing, in particular, to “fix,” and we don’t want content owners to mistakenly try to change things that aren’t issues.”
Google announced a site diversity with the aim to show no more than two results from the same domain for a particular query in the top results. The update only impacts the core results, not the additional search features like top stories, video snippets, image carousels, etc. According to Moz, the impact of this update was relatively small.
Google provided a few hour’s notices before rolling out this update. The update impacted the rankings. Some sites saw a surge and others a drop in their rankings across categories and countries.
Google announced the BERT Update, the biggest change to Google search in the past 5 years. The aim was to make the search much better at understanding what a user is looking for and provide more relevant results and snippets.
This update hit all niches, industries, and verticals. Many people started talking about massive changes in rankings and traffic from Google Organic Search. The automated tracking tools showed no updates post-Friday, November 8.