List of Google Algorithm updates in 2021
Every year, Google updates its search algorithms multiple times to ensure the users get the most relevant results whenever they search for anything on the search engine.
Google has shown a huge commitment towards offering an efficient searcher experience without losing the quality of results. This has helped the search engine decrease the number of irrelevant results by more than 40% in the last five years.
Though the majority of these updates go unnoticed, often digital marketing professionals come across changes that really rock the SEO boat.
A New Year has begun, and it's a best time to take a look back at the updates released by Google during the past year, 2021. Here we will talk about the updates that have driven SEO over the past year and how they can impact the plans in the future.
Here are the most impactful Google Search updates from 2021.
- Passage Ranking Update (February 2021)
With this update by Google, it can now use AI to index web pages along with individual passages from those pages. This means the search result now can show paragraphs or passages as the featured snippet. The motto was to be able to quickly answer specific search queries, rather than making the user go through the relevant web page to find it.
- 'About this result' update (February 2021)
With this update, Google offers extra context to search results so that searchers can decide which results would be most helpful to them.
Here's what the 'About this result' section shares:
When did Google index the website page for the first time?
Whether your connection to the site is safe?
Which terms that you searched are present on the page?
Are there any other websites that have the same search terms and are linked to the page?
The language of the page, and more.
With this update, a user can decide if the site is credible or not. This will improve user discovery of trustworthy but unpopular websites. However, the update is available in beta mode.
The thing to note about this update is that it doesn't impact your ranking; However, you need to make sure you use:
- Get quality backlinks.
- Content matching the intent of the keyword.
- 100% Mobile-First Indexing Update (March 2021)
As the use of mobile phones has increased, Google began giving more importance to mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor in 2015. In 2016, mobile-first indexing was introduced. This means, Google crawls and ranks search results as per your website pages according to the mobile version of that content. As of June 2021, it became the default for all websites, old and new.
In order to improve your mobile-friendliness, you can do the following:
- Make sure your site is responsive.
- Adopt lazy loading and image compression.
- Test popups manually and form functionalities on your mobile phone
- You can find site-wide mobile performance measurements.
- Product Reviews Update (April 2021)
This update was introduced in April 2021 with a view to encouraging product reviews that not only include a list of products but also offer in-depth research, insightful analysis, and unique content. Here is what Google suggests to you:
- Include expert knowledge of the products on the website.
- Share unique content.
- Include quantitative performance measures.
- Show the comparison to previous models and other products.
- Help consumers make intelligent purchasing decisions.
- MUM Update (May 2021)
Google has already shown interest and is using AI technologies in its algorithms, and recently it has introduced an update. This update called Multitask Unified Model (MUM) was introduced in May 2021.
It is a natural language model that is more powerful than BERT, which was introduced in October 2019. MUM is introduced with the objective of helping users when there is no simple answer. The goal of MUM is to use contextual data from different sources to offer comprehensive results to even complex questions.
The Multitask Unified Model is being designed and trained throughout 75 languages, so it can find relevant research results in languages other than the one in which the query was raised.
This doesn't mean users can get answers to complex questions. All you have to do is do the keyword research and publish long-form content to target long-tail and question keywords.
- Link Spam Update (June 2021)
This update was introduced in June 2021 and was integrated with web page and image results.
The update had two phases, and Google said they would start and finish on the same day—but in reality, they lasted for a couple of weeks.
- Page experience update (June 2021)
The update came in June 2021. Apart from indexing the mobile version of websites, Google introduced a specific set of metrics named Core Web Vitals.
These matrixes include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Which shows how fast the content on the main page can load?
- First Input Delay (FID): Which means how fast a webpage responds to the user activities on the page.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This means how stable the layout is.
You need to improve core web vitals LCP FID CLS to not to get bothered by the new update.
The real data for these metrics can be accessed via Pagespeed Insights. You can also access the full Core Web Vitals report in Search Console. These reports come with suggestions to improve page responsiveness.
- Core Update (June - July 2021)
Google announces one or additional changes to enhance its search engine results every day. At the beginning of June, Google released its initial core algorithm updates for 2021. The update was dubbed the 30th June Core Update and then followed with The core update for July 20, 2021. Update that completes the two-part update to the core.
- Page title update (August 2021)
It has been years that Google has been tweaking page titles in the SERP as per the query. But then Google started changing their page titles. Then the search engine confirmed that it would launch a new system that will no longer adjust titles according to queries but will represent pages better as per the queries. This news did not get digested well as titles are being generated from H1s, image tags, and even anchor text from other pages. There has not much come on this update since August 2021, though.
- November 2021 Spam Update (November 3)
On November 3, Google announced another spam update, and the fourth one rolled out this year.
Although the update was significant, it only affected websites that were clearly affected by security breaches or hacked. If you're adhering to Google's guidelines for webmasters and implementing the required security precautions, you shouldn't have any issues with these updates.
Finally, data has shown that the Google search results were more volatile this year than all previous years. SEOs have been working hard with all these changes, and there has been more awareness around work-life balance in this space.