How Google Has Updated its Focus on User Experience Over the Years

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A new article on Search Engine Journal reports Google has always focused on searcher experience. Here's a short timeline of Google algorithm updates designed to improve user experience.

Google has prioritized user experience for years, and this article looks at a combination of some (not all) Google updates and upgrades that significantly reflect the search engine's focus on users and their online experiences:
  • Google Panda was launched in 2011, and targeted sites with low-quality content.
  • Google Hummingbird came in 2013, straight after the introduction of Knowledge Graph. Hummingbird focused on semantic search and was designed to help Google understand the intent and context behind searches.
  • E-A-T happened in 2014 and advised marketers to focus on content that could potentially impact their readers' future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.
  • Mobile Update arrived in 2015 and was the first time Google gave marketers a heads-up (or a warning, for many) that an update was coming. It concentrated on user experience on mobile.
  • RankBrain occurred in 2015 and was more of a change to the algorithm than anything else. It heralded the rising importance of machine learning in powering search results based on an even better understanding of users' intent.
  • Google Mobile-First Indexing arrived in 2018 and meant that Google would now use the mobile version of a webpage for indexation and ranking.
  • Broad Core Algorithm Updates came the same year. Google's Danny Sullivan offered the following advice at the time:

"Want to do better with a broad change? Have great content. Yeah, the same boring answer. But if you want a better idea of what we consider great content, read our raters guidelines. That's like almost 200 pages of things to consider."
  • BERT happened in 2019 and developed on RankBrain, using natural language processing to help Google understand conversational queries.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic, March 2020: This unprecedented period saw Google continue to focus on E-A-T signals in the context of a global pandemic. This is how Google announced the update back in May 2020:

"We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months notice before they're rolled out."
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  • Profile picture of the author john moss
    Whether it is a core algorithmic update, a change to SERP layouts, a new feature, or a set of guidelines, Google's continued focus on the consumer and behavior is relentless.
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