The key to ranking high in the Google search engines rankings is to produce websites that are SEO friendly. Google uses algorithms to decide which sites deserve to be on the top pages and this guarantees these sites a high level of traffic. However, there are more than 200 algorithms used by Google with an estimated 500 or more changes made every year. While some of these changes are extremely minor and have no real bearing on organic search results, there have been a number of huge alterations which caused real problems for webmasters. These webmasters continue to play the guessing game and in the meantime, we will give you a brief history of important Google algorithm changes.
? The Google Toolbar was launched in December 2000 with Toolbar PageRank also introduced. This is when the SEO race really began.
? The search engine proceeded serenely for almost two years until an update was made in September 2002. Even today, no one is entirely sure what happened but webmasters were convinced that it altered search engine rankings.
? The Boston update occurred in February 2003 and was the first to be named. It was announced in Boston and involved algorithm changes and a host of index refreshes. Originally, Google were going to make monthly changes but it soon became clear that there would be minor alterations on an almost daily basis so these plans were eventually scrapped in July 2003.
? The Florida update of November 2003 really upset business owners as thousands of websites lost their ranking overnight. It was to see the end of techniques such as keyword stuffing as Google strived to improve the searcher’s experience.
? The Brandy update of February 2004 saw the introduction of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) which increased anchor text relevance.
? January 2005 saw the introduction of the ‘no follow’ tag which was used to prevent spam comments.
? There were a host of minor changes to deal with technical issues made thereafter but in May 2007, Universal Search was introduced. This was to see traditional search results integrated with video, news, local and other search results. It was said that the traditional 10-listing SERP was now dead.
? Real-Time Search was introduced in December 2009 with Google News, Twitter feeds and numerous other sources integrated to create a real-time feed.
? In April 2010, a significant change was made which was to affect the way local businesses advertised forever. Google Places was created to help local businesses rank in the top pages of organic search results. The idea was to remove well-optimised sites that had nothing to do with the area.
? The following month’s May Day algorithm changes severely affected long-tail keyword usage as sites with thin content suffered the most.
? On 23 February 2011, one of the most far-reaching algorithm changes was made in the form of Panda. It was another attempt at quality control by Google with the search engine rankings changed by as much as 12% though many SEO experts believe the impact to be even greater.
? Google + was the search engine giant’s most successful foray into social media with 10 million followers joining within a fortnight. This occurred on 28 June 2011.
? The most recent update came on 19 January 2012. It affected sites that had too much ad space ‘above the fold’.
As you can plainly see, Google algorithms change faster than the weather. These are just a small number of the changes that have occurred in the last 10 years. Expect more to come quickly after this article is published but please bear in mind that the majority of these changes are attempts by Google to improve the quality of sites visible to search engine users.
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David, Chief Project Manager www.BoutiqueLaFleur.com
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