Google is the most frequently used search engine in the world. For this reason, SEO experts always try to use Google’s search algorithm to their advantage, hoping their site will rank on the first page. But how often can webmasters expect an update to this search engine’s algorithm?
It’s estimated that Google’s search engine algorithm is updated between 500-600 times per year. Google often releases multiple updates within a single day, followed by several days with no updates whatsoever. While the algorithm is updated frequently, very few actually impact your site’s ranking.
Below, we’ll discuss more information on Google’s search engine algorithm updates, as well as how to respond appropriately. Keep reading to learn more.
How Often Does Google Update Their Search Algorithm?
Google updates its search algorithm quite frequently. Experts estimate that it’s as high as 500-600 times per year! While this translates to around one to two times per day, Google does not typically release an update every single day.
Instead, there will often be a day where multiple updates are released, followed by several with no updates at all. These updates are intended to maintain and increase the user’s search experience. Many of these are smaller updates, which do not significantly change your website’s rankings. However, the Google core updates will impact your rankings the most.
What Are Google Core Updates?
Several times each year, Google releases something known as a “core update.” These often bring significant and broad changes to the site’s search algorithm to ensure Google can offer relevant content for every search. Overall, core updates are about improving how the system assesses online content.
As a result of core updates, many sites notice significant drops or gains in their rankings. This can give underperforming sites a boost and lets websites that previously ranked high know that they need to make changes to their SEO strategy.
To limit a core update’s impact on your website, focus on creating high-quality, user-focused content. Only link to credible, relevant websites within your content, and never “spin” articles from other sites.
How to Tell When Google Releases an Update
While Google will publicly announce any upcoming update that they expect to significantly impact a lot of websites, they do not announce every update. However, it’s still important for SEO experts to know about any updates that could affect the SERPs related to their industry.
A few ways you can keep track of these updates include:
- Set up Google Alerts
- Watch Google Analytics
- Follow SEO industry leaders
Set Up Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a free notification service offered by Google. You choose a phrase or topic, and Google will send you emails that summarize search activity related to them.
If you set up a Google Alert for the term “Google algorithm update,” you’ll know exactly when these updates come out. The news will come straight to your inbox, no additional work required.
Watch Google Analytics
Google Analytics lets you track all the metrics related to your website, including traffic flow. If you keep up with your website’s analytics, you’ll understand what normal fluctuations look like. When updates are released that affect your search engine ranking, your analytics will let you know.
Follow SEO Industry Leaders
Certain leaders in the SEO industry are known for their work within Google’s world and will be credible sources when it comes to reporting major changes.
Some of the best people and organizations to follow include:
- John Mueller
- Search Engine Land
- Search Engine Round Table
Visit these leaders’ websites and sign up for any newsletters or email lists they offer. This is another great way to have credible information sent right to your inbox, limiting the amount of legwork you have to do yourself.
What to Do After a Major Update
When a Google core update or other major update is released, the most important thing to do is not panic. It can be stressful not to know how something will affect your site but taking the following steps will help you adjust your website accordingly.
Remain Calm and Wait to React
When Google announces an upcoming major update, it’s important not to panic and act too quickly. While it can be stressful when you don’t know what’s coming, trying to update your site too soon could negatively impact your rankings more than any update could.
As long as you’re doing SEO right by focusing on quality, user-friendly, and credible content with the appropriate keywords, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice any major changes. In fact, you may even see a boost in your rankings!
Once the update goes live, wait up to a week to see how it has impacted your site. During this time, you should be keeping a close eye on your Google Analytics and any other metrics to see potential changes. If you notice anything after a week or two, then you can begin making changes where it matters most.
Look to Credible Sources and Make Changes Accordingly
Once an update goes live, read credible sources to see what exactly it’s meant to target. The Google Webmaster Blog is a great place to start, but if you need a little more information, you could also check other credible sources.
Sources like these will highlight everything you need to know, including specific aspects of your site you should keep an eye on. Once you know what needs to be adjusted, start by making one change at a time. That way, you can better see the impact of each change you make.
Google updates its search engine algorithm hundreds of times per year. Although most of these changes are minor, and will not affect your rankings, the core updates and other major updates could. It’s important to keep track of when these updates come out so you can better prepare and make the changes necessary to keep your rankings high.
When a major update is released, the most important thing to do is wait to react. Read all the documents associated with the update, then make changes where they’re needed most.