Algorithms are often considered to be complex and difficult to understand. So it is quite interesting to know how Google Search algorithm works. There must be something unique about the Google which made it been around us for more than two decades. Here are some fun facts about Google’s algorithm and how it changed our search patterns over the span of time.
What exactly is an Algorithm?
According to Google itself, “Algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that take your questions and turn them into answers.” They traverse through trillions of available pages to find the information you are looking for.
Without algorithms, it is almost impossible to search particular information among trillions of pages manually. Luckily, Google developed an algorithm which can easily understand the signals which indicate how likely they can answer a search query.
Not only the words on the pages but Google algorithms also take into consideration, how recent the content is, how likely it can contain spam and how it relates to your location.
For marketers, all these points matter. For organic search traffic to be effective, it is important to understand how this algorithm works and how to ethically optimize for it. Moreover, it is important to be adjustable. Google algorithm has changed a lot over last few years and will continue to do so to make it more user-friendly.
8 Fun Facts about Google’s Algorithm
1) Google’s algorithm has the same name since 2013: Hummingbird
On the off chance that you do stay aware of the progressions to Google’s algorithm, you might have found algorithm’s name interesting — Panda Penguin, and Pigeon etc. However, those names have only been assigned to updates made to the overall algorithm itself, which is known as Hummingbird these days.
Google’s overall algorithm was formally announced in 2013 with the purpose of making search results more “precise and fast”.
As per Search Engine Land (SEL), Hummingbird is a recipe which contains hundreds of ingredients. These ingredients are different elements which help the algorithm to find out the quality of trillions of pages and how effectively they can provide results for your search.
2) Google rolls out improvements to its algorithm about 500 times each year.
SEO community group Moz states that Google rolls out between 500-600 improvements to its algorithm every year, most of them are so small that people don’t know about them.
Even without those minor changes, Moz has recorded around 140 updates to the Google algorithm since 2000.
To count the items accurately, they can be divided into 2 sections — eight years before and after 2008. While there were only 25 noticeable updates prior to 2008, years after that have noticed 115 updates.
There can be several reasons behind more frequent changes in recent years. It can be due to an enormous increase in users. Or it can also be about the variations in search patterns by users. Google’ algorithm is not optimized for mobile platforms despite the fact that 51% of digital media is consumed via mobile.
There is also increase in voice search. While Google has no particular plan to rank these searches, one can expect that it will start changing its algorithms to be adaptable for voice searches.
Google algorithms will continue to change in order to maintain good search quality. Hence marketers need to be adaptable and require agility.
3) One of the first objectives was to slice through spammy content from promoters.
Around 20 years ago, in 1997, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on their first search engine also known as BackRub at that time. In 1998, they published a paper at Stanford with title “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine”. In this paper, PageRank was mentioned for the first time. PageRank is a technology used by Google to help rank search results.
From the starting itself, Google is very focused on the users. Page and Brin have also mentioned about users concerns in their paper.
To focus on users, Google continues to change algorithms in order to provide the best content to them. The original vision of Google’s founders was to provide high-quality content to its users and even after eighteen years it is working towards that vision.
4) PageRank was named after Google co-founder Larry Page.
From the name “PageRank”, one can assume that it is named after technology that helps Google to rank pages. But the Fact is that it was actually named after Larry Page, one of Google’s co-founder.
PageRank technology was very useful but at the same time, it was also very confusing to understand even for some SEO experts. Only a few people understood it completely when SEL publishes a detailed article on “What’s Google PageRank?”
As per Google, PageRank considers links between pages to determine their relevance. But according to SEL, it is similar to a voting system in which inbound links to a given page are counted as votes to measure its accountability.
In 2016, Google announced that PageRank technology would be used to adjust its algorithm but the public would not be able to view any of its data which could be seen by anyone earlier.
5) There’s a Google Dance – but it’s not what it sounds like.
Google dance name was given to sudden changes to its rankings when every month major updates were made to Google algorithm. In February 2003 at Florida, Google stopped making major changes to its algorithm every month. After that Google started making general changes without bringing them to people notifications.
Google Weather Report helps to keep track of minor changes. It assigns a temperature that indicates how much the algorithm has changed since last day. Google has also hosted an event at the SMX West conference called “Google Dance” to celebrate “an annual gathering for search marketers”.
6) There isn’t really a reason behind the names for updates.
Google does not use any formal method to name algorithm updates. Google has used different criteria to name the updates like places (Boston), the name of Google engineers etc. Some other self-named algorithm updates are “Caffeine”, “Panda”, and “Vince” etc.
7) Cloud Vision API – Google search algorithm for images.
Recently, Google announced its newest Smartphone – Pixel. The camera is the highest rated feature among others in the Smartphone.
The unique feature of the camera is its world-class software algorithms, as mentioned by Isaac Reynolds, Google camera product lead. Pixel’s HDR+ algorithm helps users to capture best quality photos, despite lighting or movement conditions.
This algorithm is an add-on to Google’s search algorithm in order to get the best content for users including images. Google’s Cloud vision API allows Google to analyze and determine the content of images. Cloud vision API was made accessible to the public in 2015.
After playing with the algorithm, one can easily find out that it has been programmed using millions of existing images with various facial expressions, objects, landmarks and much more to detect and recognize the elements and objects in an image.
8) There’s a human side – the “search evaluators.”
Each year, Google performs around 40,000 precision evaluations to evaluate the quality of search results. In this, search evaluators determine the quality of results for a variety of searches.
A 146-page document explains the guidelines used by search evaluators to rate search results. It can be helpful for people who are interested in becoming evaluators. But after further analysis of these guidelines, the information could also be helpful for developers and marketers.
Each section of the guidelines can be helpful for people who are just getting started with SEO. For e.g. “Your Money or Your Life” section evaluates a page’s potential implications for a user’s health and finances. Some of the data might look like very common, but to give advice it can provide valuable information to keep your content accountable.
Three different sections are dedicated to highest, lowest, and medium quality pages. To develop and manage your content one has to keep in mind few things. Users need to read the content and see if it requires any changes.
Overall, algorithms can be fun and interesting.
– written by Ritu Chaudhary