Google is constantly evolving its algorithms to display the users the most accurate, relevant, and secure pages. And every year, it seems to introduce more and more updates every year. Knowing what kind of updates have been made will help you keep up with SEO best practices, improve your rankings, and understand any reasons behind performance shifts.
Here we cover the ten most influential Google algorithm updates for 2021 in chronological order.
We have also provided tips for optimizing your content according to these updates. The new year is just around the corner. This is a good time to check for updates released last year. 2021 was a year-round for Google and SEO: multi-core updates, page experience updates, spam updates and more. To give you an overview, here’s an infographic of Google’s 2021 updates. We hope this infographic will help you understand the latest Google guidelines and updates to launch your new 2022 strategy.
Infographic by PageTraffic
Most Important Google Algorithm Updates of 2021
Passage Ranking Update (February 2021)
Google may now utilize artificial intelligence to index not only web pages, but also individual passages (paragraphs, phrases) from those pages, thanks to the passage ranking update. As a result, certain passages may appear as the featured snippet. Instead of making the user trawl through the relevant web page to locate the answer, the goal is to immediately respond to specific queries.
“About this result” Update (February 2021)
Google’s “About this result” feature, introduced in February 2021, adds context to individual search results, allowing users to select which results will be most useful to them. The “About this result” box shares the following:
The page’s language
100% Mobile-First Indexing Update (March 2021)
As mobile traffic grew in popularity in the 2010s, Google began to emphasize mobile friendliness as a ranking criteria in 2015.
A year later, Google implemented mobile-first indexing, which refers to when Google scans and ranks your website pages based on the mobile version of that material.
Mobile-first indexing became the default for all new websites in July 2019.
It became the default for all websites, old and new, in June 2021.
In its must-read guide on the matter, Google goes on to say
“Previously, when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query, the index predominantly used the desktop version of the website’s content.” Because the majority of Google Search customers currently access the service via a mobile device, Googlebot will predominantly crawl and index pages using the smartphone agent in the future.”
To make your site more mobile-friendly, do the following:
Mobile-friendliness works on a page-by-page basis, but the mobile usability report in Search Console and Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool can provide site-wide mobile performance data.
Product Reviews are Being Updated (April 2021)
The purpose of Google’s April 2021 product reviews update was to encourage product reviews that included in-depth research, intelligent analysis, and original material rather than just summarizing a list of products.
Google discovered that a lot of review content doesn’t provide information that genuinely helps individuals make purchasing selections after a testing, experimenting, and review process.
In its statement, Google stated the following.
“As a result of this, we know that people prefer in-depth product reviews to shallow content that merely summarises a bunch of things.
That’s why we’re announcing a change to our ranking methods called the product reviews update, which is designed to better reward this type of material.
For the time being, this update only includes English language evaluations.
We feel this will benefit people who create valuable information in the product review area even more.”
MUM Update (May 2021)
Google has made progress with AI in its algorithms, the most recent of which was the MUM upgrade in May 2021.
The Multitask Unified Model (MUM) is a natural language model that is substantially more powerful than BERT, which was released in October of this year (bidirectional encoder representations from transformers).
“Helping you when there isn’t an easy answer,” MUM says.
MUM’s purpose is to offer comprehensive answers to complex problems by combining contextual information from several sources.
Instead of needing to look for something like:
a person can inquire
and find out everything you need to know in one search.
MUM is being trained in 75 languages, allowing it to find suitable replies in languages other than the one in which the query was typed.
This isn’t to say you should start answering complicated queries in your postings.
Simply conduct keyword research and continue to generate long-form content that focuses on long-tail and query keywords.
Link Spam Update (June 2021)
It was divided into two sections, each of which Google claimed would begin and end on the same day—but it took two weeks longer than intended.
There weren’t many specifics in this update, but it’s always a good idea to double-check that your website is spam-free.
If your website allows users to interact with it through comments, forums, or other means, you should be extremely wary of these malevolent actors.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your website safe from spammers:
Page Experience Update (June 2021)
In addition to the mobile website index, Google has introduced a specific set of indicators through a Page Experience update called Core Web Vitals. The new Core Web Vitals signals, which monitor loading speeds, the responsiveness of interactive components, and the visual stability of pages, were merged with numerous existing user experience signals.
These are not new indicators, but re-prioritized elements used to quantify an individual’s experience on a website. These include:
The actual data for these metrics can be accessed from Page Speed Insights or the full Core Web Vitals report in the search console. Each of these reports contains recommendations to improve the responsiveness of your site.
Google initially stated that the page experience upgrade will have a minor impact, claiming that quality is the most important component in ranking. The page experience signal, according to the report, could help distinguish between two pages of equivalent quality.
It turns out that Google may have done a better job of downplaying the upgrade than it planned, with Danny Sullivan later insisting that it might have a significant long-term impact, even if the immediate impacts were minor.
Here are some things you can do to improve your core web vitals:
Page Title Update (August 2021)
For over a decade, Google has been following queries to optimize SERP page titles. But by August 16th, people started to notice that Google had changed the page title significantly. A week later, Google confirmed that it introduced a new system that stopped adjusting titles based on queries but was supposed to better represent the entire page. This update is not well accepted as the title is generated from H1, image tags, and even anchor text from other sites.
In mid-August, SEO reported a significant increase in Google rewriting page titles in SERP. Google often adjusts page titles to make them more relevant to user inquiries, but the frequency and scope of changes reported in late August was extreme.
On August 24th, Google confirmed an update to an algorithm that coordinates the search engine process for generating website titles in SERP results. “Last week we introduced a new system for generating website titles. Previously, titles could change based on the queries issued. In principle, this does not happen on the new system. This is because, in our opinion, the new system creates a title that is totally suitable for explaining what the document is, regardless of the particular query.” Danny Sullivan, Google search liaison, suggests.
As a result, the frequency and level of page title changes have subsided since its peak in August, but Google has more power over page titles than it did before the update. Google argues that “focusing on good HTML title tags” is still important, and has posted new guidelines for website owners on its Search Central website.
This post was originally published on PageTraffic blog.