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Google’s Changing Algorithms and How They Affect Your Website

There’s no doubt Google is the sultan of search engines. For around two-thirds of the world’s internet users it’s their first port, or rather search engine, of call. According to the internet giant, their mission is “…to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. But Google is only interested in making the highest quality information available, and they are constantly changing their search algorithms to provide better, more relevant and more intuitive search results.

As a website owner and/or content creator, it’s in your interest to know how these changes affect you, and how to use this knowledge to optimise your site and boost your ranking to prime position on Google’s results page.


A search engine algorithm is the set of instructions a search engine uses to look for and display results to a search enquiry. In the split-second between hitting enter and seeing results on your screen, Google’s engine trawls through billions of webpages, processing data according to its algorithms, to prioritise the most relevant and reliable results. These algorithms are responsible for your website being at the top – or the bottom – of the rank, and the way they are updated impacts everyone with an online presence.

Have you ever been hit by a panda?

Here are some of the big updates that you should know about:


Let’s call this update Google’s content overhaul. Originally released in 2011, its purpose was to penalize content farms (websites full of content written purely to boost search engine rankings) and websites with unoriginal, copied, short, superficial, ad-dense or “thin” content, to prevent them from ranking highly on the results page. Thanks to Panda, content that is long, detailed, unique and useful to users reaps rewards in search rankings.


Following the content overhaul, the 2012 Penguin update was Google’s link overhaul. In a further bid to crack down on underhanded results-boosting tactics and to instead promote relevant, high quality content, sites attempting to manipulate search engines through link schemes or keyword stuffing were targeted. Penguin saw an increase in favourable ranking results for websites with inbound links from reputable sites relevant to their content.


2014’s Pigeon update saw changes to search results based on location, providing query results tailored to a user’s locale. You can read more about why localised SEO is important for your business here: http://www.heffernanwebdesigns.com.au/articles/local_seo_important.html.


This 2015 update resulted in better search rankings for websites optimised for mobile devices, such as those featuring mobile friendly navigation, easy-to-read content and simple touch screen display. You can read more about this update and how it affects your website here: http://www.heffernanwebdesigns.com.au/articles/importance_responsive_website.html.

Surviving the change

The good news is no matter how many algorithm updates are made, the key factors are still key. With a good SEO plan in place you can not only survive, but thrive in their wake. Remember:

  1. Create for consumers, not search engines
  2. Content is king
  3. Be Crawl-able
  4. Link well
  5. Be user-friendly

If your audience likes your site and content, if you have a good conversion rate, if your site is easy to navigate at a desk or on the go, and if your content is useful and endorsed by links from relevant and reputable sites, Google will recognize you. You can tickle that panda under its chin, high-five that penguin, and stand fearlessly under that pigeon!

If you want more information on advertising strategies or any how to market a product call Phil Heffernan on 0415 171 998 or email Phil at: phil@heffernanwebdesigns.com.au