Google : the algorithms to know for a good SEO

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Google regularly announces new algorithms or updates. To help you navigate this jungle, check out this list with explanations and links for help.

The Google algorithm (natural referencing)

  • There is not 1 but multiple Google algorithms

To simplify, we can say that there is not a Google ranking algorithm, but a constellation of algorithms that accumulate. Incidentally, it has become so complex that even at Google it must be very hard to find your way around! I even think that because of this tangle of algos, filters and other criteria, there must be a lot of uncontrolled edge effects.

Most (if not all) algorithms are intended to improve the relevance of search results. But some are intended for:

penalize sites or pages that do not comply with the guidelines (for example artificial backlinks or keyword stuffing)

favor sites or pages that have a specific characteristic (for example speed, secure HTTPS protocol, mobile compatibility, etc.)

Google is constantly adding, modifying and deleting algorithms (several thousand modifications per year). It is important for you to stay informed of all these developments! But don’t worry, this article is constantly updated to stick to the Google 2021 algorithm.

Did you know ? In 2019, the Google search engine carried out more than 460,000 tests and then posted 3,620 modifications to its search algorithm.

  • The Google search algorithm in a nutshell

If you’re in a hurry, here’s the key to remember :

The main updates to Google’s algo now relate to the overall quality of the site. There is no unique name anymore, after talking about Fred, Phantom or Panda, the generic name is now Core Update.

The big update right now is Helpful Content. It only concerns content in English, so you can prepare for it before it arrives in French.

Your site must be mobile-friendly (according to Google), otherwise your mobile rankings will be lower. This is even more important now that Google has moved to a “mobile first” index. You must not display intrusive pop-ups or interstitial banners to the Internet user who arrives from Google.

Your site must also be very fast, both on desktop and on mobile (low impact). Other aspects related to UX (user experience) are taken into account by Google (essential web signals, Core Web Vitals)

The Panda algorithm is integrated into the general algorithm, so there is no longer an official date (the last dates back to 2015). It is a major algo of Google which seeks to promote quality sites.

Penguin is now also integrated with Google’s algorithm, with “real-time” updates. This is another major algo from Google.

Google encourages to migrate to HTTPS but the SEO impact is low

Google has a special algorithm against doorway pages (be careful, their definition seems broad, the impact can concern many people), in place since 2015


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