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How SEO's Algorithms Have Evolved Over the Last Decade

SEO constantly evolves, as evidenced by the last couple of years.  Algorithms continually change to bring more relevant and higher-quality content to people browsing online.  SEOs have increasingly prioritized comprehensive information over keywords, taking a "people first" approach to providing better content in different ways. However, it is essential to remember that SEO can only work optimally if you keep your blog and content strategy updated.   

Search Engines Focus More on Intent  

Google's cryptic algorithms are highly complex, designed to take large amounts of data from its search index and deliver high-quality results based on user behavior,  location, and page ranking. As with any technology, changes are inevitable to stay relevant and valuable. However, the frequency of those changes has seen the most growth. Occasional revisions in the early days expanded to thousands of annual algorithm updates in recent years. 

In 2013, Google changed its algorithm to focus on natural language, mobile search, and localization. Though Google algorithms constantly change in small ways, the significant changes create the most impact. In 2016, a significant update altered the algorithm to prioritize intent and long-form keywords. Today, the trend continues to leverage comprehensive data based on what people need based on the intent of their searches.  

How to Stay Updated on Changes  

It is crucial for business owners to stay apprised of these changes and alter their content strategy accordingly. For instance, keywords are still important but get prioritized differently based on how Google interprets the context in which you use them. If you rely heavily on keywords as part of your SEO strategy, ensure you understand how that affects your page rankings as you implement changes. A digital partner can help you navigate the ever-changing landscape to ensure you continuously show up in searches without additional effort.   

It will take vigilance, patience, and a good recovery plan if you want to monitor the changes and update your strategy yourself. The first step is utilizing Google Alerts to analyze keyword results and other third-party tools to be alerted to algorithm changes and how they affect your page rankings. The next step is constantly researching and reading what SEO experts have to say while keeping your site updated with quality content. Finally, make changes systematically and thoughtfully, and have a fallback plan if things don't work out as expected.  

More Changes Are To Come  

Google is committed to implementing its "people-first" approach to create more helpful content. It continues to prioritize unique input over low-quality or generated content. A primary target is any site that seems to have the intended purpose of generating site rankings rather than providing information or helping people. This "search engine-first" strategy creates frustration among users and directly conflicts with Google's "people-first" focus.  

Sites created for search engine results tend to fall into the following categories: 

  • Arts and Entertainment 
  • Online educational materials 
  • Shopping 
  • Technology 

The helpful content update is the algorithm changes to provide more quality search results. According to Google, they want the user to get a broader range of relevant information when they search for a topic, such as a new movie release. Previously, you may have seen pages of aggregated reviews, but the latest updates aim to add more content from across the web. Google implemented the helpful content and core updates in September 2022, according to their updates page.  

Constantly Evolving Algorithm Changes Don't Have to Divert Your Attention 

Search engine algorithms constantly evolve, causing much grumbling and gnashing of teeth for site administrators, SEO specialists, and developers everywhere. While Google posts its updates on its site along with the intended effects, it does not give insight into how the algorithm works. That means valuable hours of trial and error trying to uncover the impact on your site rankings and how to change and improve your strategies accordingly. Many changes caused a content strategy shift from shorter posts of about 500 words to 2,000 words, or even up to 7,000 words. There is also some debate as to putting additional focus on guest blogs than onsite blogs. However, both blog types are valuable, and having expert guidance helps you know how to navigate your strategy. 

Is changing all your content to long-form the right move for you? Do you have to rewrite your entire site to maintain or improve your site rankings? These types of questions strike fear into the heart of business owners and web admins multiple times each year. It can be a considerable time commitment and potentially divert your team's attention away from more value-added work. 

You don't have to divert your or your team's attention each time Google changes its algorithm. Leverage the experience, expertise, tools, and technology of an experienced team. Work with a respected digital marketing partner who understands how to manage your SEO strategy effectively. 



Rory Kemerer

Written by Rory Kemerer

With over 9 years of digital marketing experience, Rory Harris is a leader in the digital playing field. Her passion is clear when she is helping her clients identify their goals or challenges and connecting that to a digital strategy to bring them the highest ROI. Her knowledge not only comes from both branding and lead generation solutions but also the experience she brings to the table to help her clients understand that the data tells a story on what is going on with their marketing.

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