To offer the best results, Google has very powerful algorithms that scan the entire web , continuously classifying , reclassifying and downgrading websites . To therefore claim to enjoy a place of choice in the ranking of this search engine thanks to natural referencing (SEO), it is vital to know as much as possible about Google algorithms.

Such knowledge would make it possible to better adapt to these algorithms in order to make its site as “eligible” as possible for the best positions in the search results. And it is this knowledge that we deliver to you in this article.

What is an algorithm?

Simply defined, an algorithm is a sequence of instructions or operations that solves a given problem or obtains a certain result. It’s a bit like a mill in which we enter data X to obtain a result Y, given a set of instructions previously provided.

One could therefore design an algorithm to determine the highest number in a set of the following numbers: 5; 13; 4; 24; 9; 37. In this case, the algorithm will return the number 37 as a result, depending on the instruction which may look something like “  display the highest number  ”.

You will soon understand the principle on which Google algorithms work.

How do Google algorithms work?

The query entered in the Google search bar constitutes the data that the Google algorithms will process according to the instructions integrated into them by their designers. These instructions can be summarized under the following wording: display the link corresponding to the request in order of relevance .

Even if it seems really simple when explained like that, it must be recognized that Google algorithms are designed with a very high level of complexity. And it does, indeed, need it to process the more than 30 billion pages and nearly 4.3 billion websites that currently exist in the world.

The least we can say is that Google’s algorithmic robots perform their tasks well. As proof of this, Google grabs 95% of the search market share in the world, outside of China and Russia, which are served by Yandex and Baidu.

So if we have to talk about capacity and performance, Google has its say. You could even say, rightly, that it works with the most complex algorithms in the world . And this is what makes it different from other search engines like Bing , Yahoo , Qwant , DuckDuckGo , etc.

Can we know the Google algorithms?

How nice would it be to know what those damn algorithms look like! Let’s say it ‘s the holy grail of the web . It is to this day, the best kept secret of the entire web universe. And it is better that it is so because if it happened that an entrepreneur discovered the functioning of these algorithms , he would then have enough to control the ranking of his website . Any individual would do the same, as long as he knows that it is about Google algorithms.

However, even if they are intended to be unfathomable by nature, Google algorithms are not therefore uncontrollable. Indeed, the profession of referencing was born from this need to understand their operation and to configure the sites so that they respect the requirements of these algorithms. And here we are.

For many years now, SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ) or natural referencing and its counterpart paid referencing have been in vogue. While the first is based on the use of keywords chosen at will, the second works through the purchase of keywords and advertisements . But the more popular of the two is the SEO strategy.

Although it is slower to produce effects, its effects are long lasting. But the strategies are not fixed. They change slightly according to Google algorithm updates.

Why does Google update its algorithms?

Google and the SEO specialist or consultant , it’s a fascinating story. As soon as SEOs start looking too good at Google’s algorithms, the search engine releases an update .

It usually does not update all of its algorithms. Only a part will. Then, web SEOs will manage to find a solution to Google algorithms. Google realizes this and will update part of its algorithm again, and so on.

That’s how we ended up with hundreds of Google algorithm updates . While most go unnoticed, a few turn the entire web community on its head. The effects are felt on the ranking of the vast majority of websites.

Either way, if you’re going to be successful with SEO, you can’t afford not to know the main Google algorithms . Even if we can’t really know how they work, we can try to get an idea of ​​them in order to know how to position ourselves favorably .

To begin with, remember that Google algorithm updates respond to a need to improve the quality of the results offered to Internet users. As soon as an update is released, most of the strategies used by webmasters to trick Google bots become obsolete. These strategies are known as Black Hat SEO.

That said, here are the major Google algorithm updates.

The 2011 Google Panda Update

Its goal was to downgrade websites that were unfairly ranked higher in search results. This update established the “Content Quality Score” . This is a score that has allowed Google algorithms to downgrade or reclassify websites in search results based on their performance.

The update downgraded sites if:

  • duplicate content was found;
  • the visits of Internet users were of short duration ;
  • the bounce rate was high;
  • there were too many advertisements on the site;
  • the content was over – optimized .

At the time, 12% of websites had been affected . Since then, only the sites with the most relevant content are positioned at the top of the rankings.

The Google Penguin update in 2012

It was nicknamed the “Web Spam Update” . Its purpose was to remove all spam from search results. Indeed, some sites were then only optimized through strategies known as Black Hat SEO, Cloaking, Keyword Stuffing , etc.

With these updates, sites were downgraded if:

  • incoming links came from sites with a poor reputation;
  • there are too many links in their texts;
  • the links are not relative to their domain, etc.

This update had also “skinned” many websites. Since then, webmasters manage to no longer find themselves guilty of such practices.

The Hummingbird (Colibri) update in 2013


Thanks to this update, Google was able to optimize its personal evaluation procedure for queries. Since then, the words that make up a query are no longer analyzed in isolation. This is semantic search . The words are therefore understood and interpreted in relation to each other to allow the results to be as precise as possible. The texts will now have to have a background specifically adapted to the request of the Internet user.

All sites whose content had little relevance to the needs of Internet users were penalized. 90% of websites were then impacted.

The Pigeon update in 2014

This is one of the biggest changes that Google would have made. It mainly consisted of integrating the “geographical location” parameter into the analysis of requests. The objective was to present the Internet user with the results of his research according to his geographical location. Since then, all companies have changed their approach in their search for visibility. Most SMBs had to register on Google Maps and so the focus was on local SEO . In turn, qualified connection rates have increased significantly.

The Google mobile friendly update in 2015

Renamed ”  Mobilegeddon  “, this update was initiated due to the observation that searches were launched much more from smartphones and tablets than from computers.

Since the release of this update, no site may rank in search results if it:

  • is not optimized for mobile viewing;
  • does not offer smoother navigation;
  • is not user friendly .

The 2017 Intrusive Ads Update

This was intended to downgrade sites that contained too many pop-ups and banner ads.

It fits into the framework of respect for the Internet user and a more pronounced need for user-friendliness of the sites .

Indeed, some sites exaggerated with pop-ups that opened haphazardly. Reading the content itself was then very difficult.

Since the release of this update, there are fewer intrusive advertisements . And sites that are stubborn have no chance of one day finding themselves at the top of the rankings.

The 2018 Page Load Speed ​​Update

In a logic of SXOSearch eXperience Optimization) , this update was initiated to force website owners to reduce the loading time of their pages .

Since its publication, sites whose pages take too long to load have seen their chances of appearing in the top search results drastically reduced.

The ultimate goal here is to ensure that the quality of the user’s experience is as interesting as possible.

The March 12, 2019 update

In 2019, Google’s first algorithm update occurred on March 12. This update was dubbed by the company “March 2019 Core Update”. This hotfix was caused by two major facts. Indeed, the update was made to correct the sub-rankings suffered by certain websites .

On February 6, 2019, Google’s ranking algorithm experienced a computer error. Also, a spike in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) was observed. This is the page that a search engine generates in response to a survey. Google has made no statement about the contents of this patch.

The June 3, 2019 update

On June 3, 2019, Google made a new update. The name given to the latter was the “June 2019 Core Update”. This update had the role of increasing the level of transparency of Google in the operation of the algorithm . Indeed, the company has been the subject of a great deal of speculation. As with the previous update, the American giant made no revelations.

In fact, the June 3, 2019 update came about to provide fixes for a number of issues. For example, on April 5 of this year, the algorithm experienced a problem with the de-indexing of sites and web pages. This problem lasted for days before a fix was made.

The September 24, 2019 update

Google also made an update on September 24, 2019. This is the “September 2019 Core Update”. As in previous cases, the company did not reveal concrete information about this update. However, it has been noticed that websites involved in the health sector have been affected. This update occurred in response to several events.

On June 6, 2019, Google partially modified its algorithm to better manage the positioning of websites and web pages. This partial fix was done in response to some suspicions raised by abnormal fluctuations in the rankings.

The October 25, 2019 BERT Update

BERT means in English, Bidirectional Encoder Representations shows off Transformers. This is the name given to the update made by Google on October 25, 2019. It is one of the biggest that Google’s algorithm has seen. This update has allowed the algorithm to better understand the meaning of searches made by Internet users . The number of usable words is no longer limited.

The January 13, 2020 update

As the world gradually emerged from the fervor of the end-of-year celebrations, Google has not been idle. Indeed, on January 13, 2020, the company made an update to its algorithm. It was called “January 2020 Core Update”. This fix allowed the removal of position 0 at the SERP level .

The May 4, 2020 update

During 2020, Google also made a change to its algorithm on May 4. This is the “May 2020 Core Update”. This change was made despite the health crisis linked to the Coronavirus pandemic. It took two weeks for all internet users to see the effects of this update.

The December 3, 2020 update

The “December 2020 Core Update” was the last of the year. Indeed, Google had decided to close the year in style. Also, this update is explained by several facts. The spike in volatility in the SERPs of France is a palpable example. The company has made no statement on the content of this update.

The April 8, 2021 update

This is the first update of the year 2021. It has been named Product Review Update. This update affects English searches. It has facilitated testing and shared detailed opinions on products and services .

The July 26, 2021 update

Since the Product Review Update, Google’s algorithm has not seen any major changes. It is true that it was the subject of the June 2021 Core Update and the July 2021 Core Update. These updates did not bring major changes. The major patch was on July 26, 2021. Also, it was the Google Link Spam Update. It allowed better management of affiliate and non-sponsored links .

How to adapt to updates to succeed in natural referencing (SEO)?

The ultimate goal of natural referencing is compliance with the requirements of Google algorithms and their various updates.

Despite the multiplicity of updates, it is possible to synthesize the requirements of Google algorithms. Here is a guide to SEO practices for successful SEO.

Content optimization

Here, the content must be written with quality, conciseness and relevance . Filling will be avoided as much as possible.

Information must be communicated in an accessible language and without a relentless wringing the neck of grammatical and syntactical rules.

Likewise, the contents must be well structured and readable . To ventilate the content of the pages and make their indexing easier for search engines, we will indeed use the Title, Meta Description, Hn tags and Alt tags.

More importantly, the content should be optimized on quality keywords and with a density between 1 and 1.8%.

Technical optimization

Here it is a question of ensuring that the sites are secured by an SSL certificate . The advantage is that this reassures both Internet users and search engines of the security of banking information and other sensitive information provided on the site.

Also, the site must be optimized for mobile viewing . Each page should therefore:

  • adapt to the size of smartphone and tablet screens;
  • be very ergonomic and user- friendly .

Link optimization

Indeed, the quality of the internal link must be ensured to attract search engines. Use outbound links and ensure as much as possible to get some inbound links from reputable websites.

However, do not overdo it, at the risk of seeing your site sent to spam.

Here are in a few words the essential practices to optimize the natural referencing of your website. The ball is now in your court.

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About the Author

SAKHRI Mohamed

Founder & Editor

Passionate about the web, new technologies and IT, I share on tutorials, tips, advice, online tools and software for Windows, Mac and Linux.

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