August 5, 2019 Last updated January 14th, 2020 1,335 Reads share

How Has the Google Algorithm and SEO Evolved?

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Definition of SEO

In its purest form, SEO is an online marketing service that can be defined as a data-driven tactic to optimizing a website in a way that it drives organic and relevant traffic from Google and other similar search engines. You get 10 results on a single search result page on Google. Every search results are ordered by rank which remain as their position on a search result page. The higher your page ranks on any search query on the search engine results page, the better your click-through rate is.

History of SEO

Google is getting smarter by the day – Nowadays they use artificial intelligence to help learn, process information and rank website accordingly, they are even able to understand human speech, such is their intelligence now which aids them in providing incredibly relevant results that not only understand words and queries but the meaning and intent behind them.

Long before in the mid-90s, search engines used to define relevance by considering the text of a website, their domain names, and overall site structure. Then on one fortunate day Larry Page, one of Google’s founders, designed an algorithm which was to observe the relevance of certain pages by evaluating the patterns formed by hyperlinks. Now, instead of using text to determine relevance, the search engine would determine the relevancy of a page based on a numerical value of links rooted in its HTML and by external links to the page, this algorithm update eventually came to known as PageRank. Moving fast forward to now PageRank is just one of the hundreds of factors on which Google ranks a certain page and website. To be somewhat precise there are more than 200 signals, and increasing gradually, that are currently in use and provide to the master algorithm.

About Algorithms

Google has a history of unexpected algorithm updates and algorithm refreshment from time to time, some are ground breaking and some are easy to adapt to. Google releases at least two algorithm updates to their index every day albeit bringing changes very small to be noticed. But below we have mentioned some of the most major and ground breaking algorithm updates which have changed the scenario of website optimization on Google search engine.

  • Panda
    • Panda was launched on February 24th, 2011 and dropped a bombshell. This algorithm was introduced to penalize any websites that had plagiarized, duplicate or thin content, also including websites with user-generated spam and keyword stuffing. Panda came with a “quality score” which started to score website based on their content, which was later used as a ranking factor. Panda paved the way to something which we now call “user-intent.”
  • Venice
    • Second important update was Venice which was thrown onto the scene on February 27th, 2012. The Venice algorithm eradicated irrelevant results that were not valid to the location of the searcher. This update highlighted the fact that Google noticed that some users want a product or service which is near to them, this increased the importance and usage of geo specific keywords in your content.
  • Penguin
    • Third, Penguin came on April 24th, 2012 and quickly started to freeze out irrelevant and spammy backlinks. This also comprised links with over-optimized anchor text. Any website who created backlinks such that they seemed to manipulate the search engine to achieve higher rank got penalized through Penguin. Penguin is now a core part of Google algorithm.
  • Hummingbird
    • Fourth and a very important first AI update of Google, Hummingbird was launched on August 22, 2013. The Hummingbird algorithm penalized not only keyword stuffing but also sites whose content could be determined as low quality. Hummingbird helps Google understand search queries and deliver results that match the searchers intent, in short you as a user could make long search queries and Google would respond to them rather than displaying no results. Hummingbird gave significance to long tailed keywords
  • Pigeon
    • Fifth, Pigeon was introduced on July 24, 2014. This launch was to increase the significance of local search results. This update also affected the search results shown in Google maps
  • Mobile
    • Sixth, Mobile update was launched on April 21, 2015. Google started noticing the importance of smartphones as the mobile traffic was steadily increasing. This update gave ranking preferences to those website whose mobile version was up to speed alongside their desktop version.
  • RankBrain
    • Seventh and the second AI update from Google, RankBrain was launched on October 26, 2015. RankBrain is a machine learning system that gives Google the power to comprehend the meaning behind search queries, allowing it to deliver the most relevant results for those queries. This is by far the most important ranking factor right now.
  • Possum
    • Eighth, Possum was launched on September 1, 2016. With this update Google started providing you with search results more close to your location.
  • Fred
    • Ninth and the last major update, Fred was launched March 8, 2017. Any website violating Google webmaster guidelines was penalized by Fred. Websites or blogs with low quality content created to generate ad revenue were targeted

These above mentioned updated from Google have completely revolutionized website creation, SEO and browsing experience, for the better I must add. And still it is evolving continuously.

On Page SEO

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing the website and its inner pages as per the guidelines provided by Google and also the latest user trends to rank higher on search engines. If you have complete grip of how to change and create the content of your website then it is fairly easy to carry out, also if your On-Page SEO is on point then you can consider 75% of your website SEO to be complete. Some On-Page SEO factors include

  • Title tags
  • Header tags
  • URLs
  • Alt image tags

The most important factor of on-page SEO is website content. If you would remember I mentioned something about “user-intent” back in the algorithm section, Google’s philosophy revolves around providing the best to the user and fulfilling their intent. Due to that Google demands from website owners and SEO experts to create quality content which is relevant to what they are offering, it must be informative and also engaging so that the user is satisfied. Believe me when I say this, without quality content, as required by Google, your On-Page SEO is dead and without on-page, your website will be buried. You can learn more about On Page SEO factors here

Off Page SEO

Off-page SEO is a process where you optimize your website by taking actions which impacts your website externally and helps increase your website authority and its ranking. It is all about increasing the perception of your website in the eyes of user and increasing trust and loyalty among users. Off-Page SEO can be done by creating links on directories, guest posting, building your broken links and similar actions.

Obtaining backlinks requires some work and in order to create great authority over the internet it is important that your website gets the most natural and approved links. Some of the signals which determine a great link are

  1. Linking the site’s popularity
  2. The relevance of the link with regards to the website’s topic
  3. How “fresh the link is
  4. Use of anchor text
  5. Number of different links on the linking page and how trustworthy they are
  6. Authority of the website and page you have linked your website on

Relevance, authority and trustworthiness are still considered important among the SEO community even though the landscape of website SEO has been changing a lot recently.

The Future of SEO

You can never be sure of SEO and what it will bring in the coming days, but what we can be sure of is the fact that Google will keep on brining something after another from time to time. Two areas which we can say that they will probably become the part of SEO in future days are voice search and virtual reality.

  1. Voice search is quickly becoming an important ranking factor in the eyes of Google. Search queries nowadays have increased from voice searches rather than being typed in and with technologies such as Alexa and Echo taking charge you can expect voice search to take center stage real soon.
  2. Virtual reality is becoming somewhat popular among internet users, though there is still time as it has not reached the heights of voice search but gradually it is coming to become a part of SEO in future. It is the same as visual content, it is just that it will require some adjusting to do in the world of SEO.



SEO and Google are moving consistently and the recipe to a successful website and SEO career is to keep pace with Google by researching and being on-point with all the latest SEO trends and updates.

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Muhammad Asjad khan

Muhammad Asjad khan

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