Google Search Algorithm Changes

Waking up and finding your biker website’s search rankings have dropped is a bad way to start your day. But, when your site drops by a few pages, it is a wreck.

One reason your motorcycle website drops in rankings can be a major change in Google’s search algorithm. Over the years, Google has made many significant changes to its search algorithm.

What Is an Algorithm?

Note, for non-technical people, by “algorithm,” I’m referring to the formula that Google uses to determine where your site is ranked in Google’s SERP (search engine results pages). Importantly, every day, there are minor changes. However, the more significant changes can drastically drop your motorcycle website’s rankings overnight.

Google Algorithm Changes

Google’s Updates (2003-2016)

Below is a list of the major/Core Google algorithm changes over the years. These changes affect your Google rankings and your biker site’s SEO strategies. In 2017, Google started using the term “Core” for major algorithm changes. After each algorithm change is made, below is a brief explanation of what it is.

Florida Update in 2003

In late 2003, Google’s first major search engine algorithm was released. It was named “Florida” because it was like a Florida storm. The impact was on retail sites, so many motorcycle websites were impacted. For many e-commerce biker sites, it was released at the wrong time – during the holidays. And you know how important holiday sales are for those who make a large percentage of their money online.

Notably, Florida’s impact on Google search results was for spam websites. The impacted motorcycle e-comm stores were those using keyword stuffing on pages. These spam pages had an unusually high density of keywords intended to raise the pages in Google’s rankings. In addition, e-commerce biker websites that used hidden text and links took a big hit.

Jagger Update in 2005

Primarily, the Jagger Update lowered the search rankings from backlink spam. Included were motorcycle sites that bought links.

Also, links from pages with duplicate content from multiple domains were impacted. Furthermore, this Google update negatively impacted biker sites with links from link farms. Note that a “link farm” is a website with a free-for-all link page. Additionally, this type of links page has lots of links to all different kinds of industries.

These pages were simple to spot; when you checked the link page, it was clear that it was a link farm. Back then, some link farms had a dedicated link page for each industry. But this was still a problem. A motorcycle webmaster could see this if the homepage’s content matched the industry on a link page.

Big Daddy Update in 2006

Then, in early 2006, Google’s search algorithm changed when Big Daddy was released. This update also focused on spam backlinks. However, this time, the focus was on sites buying links or those that only did reciprocal link exchanges.

Vince Update in 2009

Back in early 2009, Google’s search formula Vince Update significantly impacted big brands and those without solid website SEO practices. This update valued trust. Google looked at traffic volume, competitiveness, and popular keywords. Consequently, big companies like Harley-Davidson and some motorcycle superstores benefited.

May Day Update in 2010

Then, in the spring of 2010, the May Day Update was announced. Specifically, it changed how long-tail keyword searches ranked. ”Long-tail” searches are specific and four or more words. Again, this was a significant benefit for many large motorcycle companies’ websites.

Caffeine Update in 2010

Next was Google’s Caffeine Update, which gave websites with fresh/new content a higher ranking. Caffeine made it important for sites to produce new content on your motorcycle website. Also, web pages needed to be updated regularly. This made having a quality website SEO marketing strategy a must. It also increased the amount of work motorcycle websites required to rank in Google results.

Panda Update in 2011

Then, in the fall of 2011, the Panda Update rolled out the “quality score.” And biker sites with poor or limited content dropped in search rankings. Additionally, motorcycle websites were penalized because they had low “quality scores.” A good example is a motorcycle superstore. As you’ve seen, superstores have endless product category pages. Too often, the sites penalized had only a little content, which is not considered quality.

Penguin Update in 2012

In 2012, the “website spam update” rolled out. After it was released, the name was changed to the Panda update. The losers were motorcycle sites using “black-hat” link techniques.

If you aren’t familiar with the “black hat,” it is like the old cowboy movies in which the “black hat” cowboys were the villains. Then, “white-hat” cowboys were the “good guys.” It is the same thing with search practices. Google penalizes the “black-hat”/unethical SEO techniques.

Top Heavy Update in 2012

With this update, the focus was on down-ranking sites and pages with tons of ads. Back then, some biker sites had a large to ridiculous number of ads. Often, these motorcycle ads were above the “fold.” Note that the “fold” is the part of a site you can see when you land on a page. And it is before you need to scroll down.

Hummingbird Update in 2013

Following Panda, the following major Google search algorithm change was Hummingbird. Again, this update also penalized keyword stuffing and low-quality website content.

Furthermore, it helped rank motorcycle sites based on “search intent.” Specifically, this meant that the words in a search did not need to match the terms on pages. Subsequently, synonyms and related searches were important to your motorcycle site’s rankings. Importantly, this helped give the end-users what they wanted, AKA providing them with relevant results.

RankBrain Update in 2015

In 2015, Google’s RankBrain Update came out. And it was the machine learning system of the Hummingbird algorithm change. Machine learning helped Google better understand a searcher’s intent. Again, Google was looking to understand search intent better. And they did this by looking at synonyms, implied words, and the end-users’ search history.

Mobilegeddon Update in 2015

After the mobilegeddon update, if your motorcycle company’s site design and content were not mobile-friendly, it dropped in rankings. Again, Google’s changes were all about the user, as they must be. Specifically, biker websites needed a mobile version of their site to perform well/be user-friendly.

Today, Google uses a “mobile-first.” This means that Google uses your biker site’s mobile version to determine indexing and ranking.

Subsequently, it became crucial that your motorcycle website developer be an expert in mobile-friendly design. One noteworthy item you’d be surprised by is how many biker sites, even popular ones, have significant mobile performance problems. Notably, these mobile issues can all be drastically improved.

With over 60% of searches done on mobile, it is no surprise that Google values a user-friendly mobile experience. The exact percentage of mobile searches varies by industry, product, etc. But your biker website must have a quality cell experience: easy to use, simple navigation, fast, etc.

Today, Google’s algorithm can tell the quality of your site by looking at several technical-SEO factors. Plus, Google can see the engagement metrics of cell users. “Engagement” metrics include:

  • Time on your biker site
  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Number of pages viewed
  • Purchases of your motorcycle products or services
  • Abandoned shopping carts

Quality Update in 2015

In May 2015, the Quality Update was launched. This algorithm update improved ways to assess quality factors.

Google “Core” Updates (2017-present)

As noted, in 2017, Google started referring to their major search algorithm updates as “Core” updates. Below are some of the most significant Google Core updates.

Fred Core Update in 2017

The first “Core” Google search algorithm change was Fred. Again, this change focused on removing thin content pages. In addition, it penalized sites with endless ads. Still, some of these affiliate pages were filled with ads. And you’ve seen them.

Most of the time, they were pages from which you/a visitor immediately click away. This happens especially when the sites are filled with ads. Or when the ads were designed to make you accidentally click on an ad.

Medic Core Update in 2018

Next, the Medic Core Update came out in 2018. This update focused on authority. Notably, E-A-T (Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness) came out. Your search rankings would increase if you had a motorcycle website with all three items.

Then, the YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) change was focused on important professional services sites like the following:

  • Medical
  • Legal
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Education
  • And other life-altering service sites.

BERT Core Update in 2019

Next was the Google BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) Core Update. This algorithm change focused on sorting through pages and sites by quality. For instance, a web page’s content must be focused and written well. This change was made using natural language processing.

Now, your motorcycle site search engine marketers need to write quality content. If not, their sites dropped in Google rankings.

Featured Snippet 2020

Before this update, a website that was the featured snippet could also be in position 1 in the organic rankings. But this changed to avoid clutter and make it easier for searchers to find what they were looking for.

Page Experience Update in 2021

I often note that Google needs happy users to keep them using their search engine. Next, to keep them happy, a user must like the content of the pages they land on. Also, there was an update to Google’s Core Web Vitals. Subsequently, your motorcycle website’s content must be of high quality. Part of this is providing information that is useful and that users engage with

Helpful Content Update in 2022

We’ve noted that the focus of this Google update impacted on-page SEO marketing and writing web page content. As the Update’s name implies, content must be helpful to rank. Importantly, quality search engine marketers always write for the end-user first, then for Google and other search engines second.

Winning or Losing with Changes

It can be a great or a terrible day when Google rolls out search changes. Of course, this is because the change can drastically affect your revenue. As an example, let’s say that before an algorithm change, your site ranked number 5 for a specific phrase. Now, the farthest you can rise is four places. But you could drop down to number 50, 100, or no longer can be found in search results.

How do you gain in rankings rather than lose in rankings? That is primarily based on who is doing your biker site’s SEO. They will follow Google’s rules if they are genuinely search engine experts. Plus, they will always avoid trying to trick Google by manipulating your motorcycle website’s rankings.

That being said, your rankings can still drop if you have a motorcycle SEO expert. However, they will be smaller, and they will be able to regain rankings in Google.

Furthermore, we have many other informative marketing pages; just check out our Marketing Academy articles, one of which will really help you understand how quality customer service impacts your bottomline. You can also read more about marketing on our biker search and website marketing services pages. Even better, the information is geared specifically toward marketing motorcycle companies.

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