Most Impactful Google Algorithm Updates, 2021

By APPNWEB Technologies | December 29, 2021

Google leaves no page unturned to provide the most relevant, accurate and secure results to its users. Google algorithm is  always evolving and introducing more updates each year. To stay up to date and on top with these changes, it is necessary to know how to optimize your content accordingly.

SEO Specialists often seem to be confused about performance shifts. Knowing what kind of updates have taken place, recently and a while ago, will help them in understanding reason behind the same and also to stay in line with best SEO practices. As the year is coming to an end, we thought to list out the most impactful Google algorithm updates of 2021 in a single blog.

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  • Passage Ranking Update (Feb 2021)

Passage Ranking update is a new way to how Google ranks passages on a web page. Google use artificial intelligence to index web pages and individual paragraphs/sentences from these pages with the passage ranking update. This means that Google now gets a better understanding of page content and quickly answer specific queries with the most relevant results.

This update allows Google to set apart different passages topics on the same page and rank them separately as the featured snippet.

  • ‘About this result’ Update (Feb 2021)

Google’s update on “about this result” feature provides additional context to individual search results that helps user determine which result would be most relevant to them. This feature helps users to properly vet additional background information about a website so they can determine if the site is trustworthy and authoritative or not.

It’s just a list of facts about the site (some of which are ranking factors) and doesn’t impact ranking.

  • Mobile-first Indexing Update (Mar 2021)

No doubt that we now exist in a mobile-first world and today most of the searches on Google are made by mobile devices. So, the company started placing more importance on mobile-first indexing which was first introduced in 2016.

As stated by Google, there is not a separate mobile-first index. Instead it fundamentally uses the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking purposes. This update is applied to all websites published after 1st July, 2019, by default. In this update, the mobile-friendly URL of a site is indexed. That means, if the site has different URLs for mobile and desktop, Google will show mobile users the mobile URL and desktop users the desktop URL.

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  • Product Reviews Update (Apr 2021)

The product reviews update, in April, by Google caused a fuss in the affiliate sector. This update was introduced to promote high quality product reviews and products testing that include quality and useful content. It helps improving ranking in Google searches.

Before this, most of the affiliate sites focused only on clicks and commissions instead of providing in-depth, researched, original content to the users. The update had rolled out for English-language Google search.

  • MUM Update (May 2021)

MUM is short for Multitask Unified Model. It’s a new AI-based technology trained in 75 different languages, by Google to understand and answer complex searches. This technology is based on transformer architecture and helps search engine transfer the knowledge across languages. Meaning, it can identify relevant answers in a different language (other than the one in which query was made) as well.

Google MUM is said to be more powerful that BERT. It is designed to use contextual information from different sources to provide extensive result to complex questions.

  • Page Experience Update (Jun 2021)

Google started to roll out this broad core algorithm update on 16th June, 2021. The Page Experience Update is intended to provide a better user experience by prioritizing pages with good load time, interactivity and mobile friendliness. These metrics are called Core Web Vitals that includes the following:

    1. LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) – It is the content load time. 2.5 sec or faster LCP is considered the best.
    2. FID (First Input Delay) – It is how fast the page become interactive. 100 millisecond or faster FID is considered best.
    3. CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift) – It is visual stability of the layout. CLS of less than 0.1 is considered the best.
  • Link Spam Update (July 2021)

Link Spam Update began rolling out on 26th July and was completed on 24th August, 2021. It was implemented on web page and image results. As such there weren’t full detail on this update but Google informed that “This algorithm update, which will roll out across the next two weeks, is even more effective at nullifying and identifying link spam more broadly, across multiple languages.”

If you are providing interaction on your website via comments, forums, etc. you got to be especially careful of these malicious players. You can protect your site from spammers by using noindex and Google Search Console, updating your site’s SSL certificate and doing regular site clean-ups.

  • Page Title Update (Aug 2021)

Google has updated the way it creates page titles for SERPs, in its Page Title update. In this new system, Google no longer adjust titles according to queries but to better represent the page as a whole in search results. Before, it used to display dynamic page titles in the SERP. No matter what the user searches, now more relevant title will get the maximum clicks.

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