Google is always evolving its search engine algorithm. Check out this guide to the Google algorithm updates of 2021 and how they’ll impact your market strategy.

“Hold on tight; here we go again!”
Yes, whenever Google announces an impending algorithm update, webmasters, business owners, and digital marketers hold their breath.

To be fair, Google isn’t known for its transparency, so when a Google algorithm is on the horizon, it tends to attract a good deal of scrutiny. And rightly so!

When your bottom line is tied in so closely with this behemoth, you simply must stay on top of what’s happening and why.

We’re taking a closer look at the algorithm updates from 2021, how they impacted businesses and ways to optimise your strategy to accommodate them.

Important Google Algorithm Updates in 2021

Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that Google’s reasons for these ongoing updates relate to offering the best results to its users. Being in the business of delivering accurate, timely data to – well – the whole world is a weighty responsibility. Plus, technology is racing along so quickly that these chaps have to stay on their toes.

Once we understand that the updates are not simply to upset the digital marketing community, then we’re more likely to adjust our brand marketing strategy to fit in.

Google Passage Indexing Clarify 1603279972

February 2021 – Passage Ranking Update

We love this update! Google flexed a little to show us how it can use AI to index web pages as well as paragraphs and sentences within those pages. This stroke of genius meant that the most relevant answer to a user query is potentially highlighted as a featured snippet.

Prior to this, the best answer to a query may have been buried in thousands of words of a long-form article; accurate but hard to find. It also gives credence to in-depth, well-researched articles, which can now rank based on the entire article and not simply the relevance of the opening paragraph. Great, well-written articles based on longtail keywords are key here.

Internet Browser Search Bar With Magnifier On Computer Screen With Text Search

February 2021 – About This Result

While this isn’t necessarily a Google algorithm for SEO specifically, it does benefit those websites that work hard to adhere to best practices. Here, Google offers additional information on a website so that users can see at a glance whether they can trust the site, how relevant it is to their search, and any other pertinent references.

Mobile First Indexing

March 2021 – Mobile-First Indexing

This one has been on the cards since 2015 as mobile devices gradually took the reins from desktop searches. Search engines prefer websites that offer the very best mobile user experience. Simple. Google now gives priority to mobile responsive sites – both old and new and ranks accordingly.

Mobile sites should be fast, easy to navigate, and secure. There are dozens of tools available to check the various elements of mobile friendliness, and changes should be made as a matter of priority. The bottom line is that if your site is not easy to navigate on a mobile device, it’s going to slide down the rankings pretty quick.

Google Review Link Generator

April 2021 – Product Reviews

The prevalence of online stores grows daily, which means more information and more choices for consumers. Google has decided that the best results will be those with comprehensive information, research, and analysis of products. Sites that offer original and high-quality content and salient reviews will rise to the top.

Google Mum 1621424492 1

May 2021 – Multitask Unified Model (MUM)

This complex Google ranking algorithm takes AI and natural language processing a step further. In trying to understand why a user would be interested in specific information, deciphering intent and predicting further follow-up questions, Google offers contextual search results from different sources.

Essentially, it takes a complex question, or what may normally be a series of questions, and consolidates the answer for the user. Businesses that offer well-researched articles with comprehensive insights will certainly benefit from this update.

Google Linkspam Update 1627311415

June – August 2021 – Link Spam

In an effort to supply links to a site to boost their backlink profile, some less-than-professional businesses use link spam.

This can take several forms such as:

Posting non-contextual links of guest books, comments or public forums
Hiding links in locations that only bots will see
Creating link farms where a group of sites all link back to each other
Placing links in thousands of online directories
Adding dozens of links in a single blog post regardless of their relevance

Google has determined that these “spammy” links were created as a way to cheat the system, and it now ignores them. If you’ve done this in the past, then stop! If you’re not sure, then our digital marketing gurus can run the necessary checks and balances to negate these issues.

Myriam Jessier Evei7mocsmw Unsplash

June 2021 – Page Experience

It’s all about user experience. This algorithm update focused on and prioritised a distinct set of web page vitals, including loading, interactivity, and stability. Google’s focus on user experience is nothing new, but this update encourages and rewards websites that make a real effort with UX.

Your mantra here should be simpler, better, faster.

Pawel Czerwinski Fpzzev0uqwa Unsplash 1

August 2021 – Page Title Update

The jury is still out on why Google would run this update. The digital marketing community as a whole hasn’t been thrilled with Google messing with their page titles, especially since the impact has been detrimental for most.

The Google brains decided to change page titles to better reflect the content of a page. While this may make sense from a user perspective, it’s not always 100% accurate. Plus, it throws all sorts of spanners in the works for businesses that have carefully constructed their pages according to “best practices.”

Souvik Banerjee Omhubjcrtu0 Unsplash

November 2021 – Local Search Update

Rolled out just prior to the busy shopping season, this update knocked the wind out of many businesses that relied on local search traffic. Again, Google’s comments were light on detail, but eagle-eyed SEOs noticed two main factors at play:
Companies that had dominated the local SERP results based on keyword-rich business names alone all but disappeared
Google tightened up on actual proximities as they related to the location of the search query
This update was a major shakeup in SEO terms with the search engine giant endeavouring to level the local playing field and, more accurately, position results.
We’re Watching You, Google

Aside from these important Google algorithm updates from 2021, word on the street has it that there were around 4,500 updates and changes made during the year. That’s a whole lot of changes to stay on top of, especially if your knowledge of SEO is a little thin.

Have you been impacted by these updates?

If you’ve lost traction or market share and you’re ready to scale the SERPs again, please get in touch. Our team has decades of experience doing exactly this, and we’re standing by to assist.