Google changes its search engine algorithm hundreds of times per year, but how has Google’s algorithm changed? The algorithm has evolved just as much as the technology that we use to seek information has. To keep up with Google, many companies rigorously test and analyze web site code to gain insight into what will put a web site in the top ten on a search engine results page, where nearly all ecommerce transactions begin.

In the early days of search engines, keywords and links were the ranking factors that web sites needed on their pages to get recognized by the search engines. It was a quantity over quality world. In 2013, Google released an update to its algorithm that addressed issues like bad links, certain on-page elements and spam. These changes seemed to shift Google’s focus to quality over quantity.

Also, in 2013, Google announced an update that ranks sites for having relevant, high quality content that makes sense to a person reading it. This so-called “semantic search” placed value on “natural” word use on web sites.

2014 saw even more updates to the Google search algorithm, including changes that addressed the number of advertisements on a page, users’ location data and local results, HTTPS/SSL for web site security, and data and software piracy. Another important update came in 2016 when Google announced changes to how it would handle its own AdWords listings in search results, which affected organic search results and paid results for competitive keywords. Google also began to favor mobile-friendly and responsive web sites and went so far as to penalize mobile versions of web sites for including disruptive pop-ups. It also devalued web sites for having bad links.

The most recent updates to Google’s search algorithm came in 2017 and 2018, and further solidified Google’s commitment to favoring high-quality content. With these recent updates, Google has also committed to valuing web site security, fast page loading speed and video content. Video content on web sites has subsequently risen significantly.

In the future, Google will further update its search algorithm for the benefit of its users. And, it will likely continue to favor local results and mobile-friendliness, as well as responsive and efficient web sites with high-quality, relevant, and most importantly, useful content.

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