The first few years after Google launched its search engine were a bit of a “wild west” for search engine optimization. It was easy to game the system with spammy SEO tactics but it wasn’t long before Google started cracking down.
The first “official” Google search algorithm update was in 2003 when it implemented the Florida Update. Since then, Google updates SEO algorithms regularly with dozens over the intervening years.
But as much as things change with those core updates, a few factors carry through all the algorithm changes. Let’s look at 5 evergreen components of SEO.
1. Content is King
Content is the most fundamental part of Google’s business. The whole point of the search engine is to find helpful content on the web.
Creating valuable content for your site’s visitors is critical, no matter how the algorithm changes. If your content isn’t worth your visitors’ time, Google isn’t going to recommend it in the results.
This is one of the things that changed with that first update in 2003. Sites that gamed the system saw their SEO ranking drop overnight.
2. Site Speed is Important
When a visitor clicks through to your site from the search results, you only have a few seconds to get their attention. If your site takes too long to load, they’ll click back and find another option.
Google knows when this happens and will drop your site in the results. Your website must load quickly.
3. Mobile Support is Non-Negotiable
Over the last decade, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have overtaken desktop computers as people’s primary devices. That means more people are looking at your website on a small screen than on a full-sized display.
Google understands this and ranks sites that have mobile-friendly designs at the top of the results. If your website doesn’t work well on those devices, it’s not going to show up in the results.
4. User Intent is Not so Black and White
Google is at the leading edge of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) and it shows in how they rank websites.
The algorithm doesn’t only look at the content on a webpage to determine how it ranks. It also considers user intent – what a user is looking for when they search.
For example, someone searching for “pizza” could want recipes, pictures, or a local pizza delivery service. If they search for “pizza near me” the intent is much clearer.
Google micro-updates happen all the time to fine-tune how ML and AI impact search rankings.
5. How Important Are Backlinks?
The original Google algorithm used a measurement called Pagerank. The idea was that web pages with more sites linking to them were likely more useful and should rank higher in the results. It worked as a sort of recommendation engine.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to create fake backlinks to boost the reputation of a page. While backlinks are still part of the ranking algorithm, they don’t carry as much weight as they did in the early years of Google.
There’s a Common Thread When Google Updates SEO Algorithms
If you look back at all the times Google updates SEO algorithms, you’ll find a common thread — user experience. If you focus on providing the best possible experience to visitors coming to your website, you’ll have a better chance of ranking at or near the top of the Google results.
Browse through the Business category on our site for more helpful SEO and online marketing articles.