Content Marketing

SEO Terminology: What Is an Algorithm?

What is an algorithm in SEO terms?

Simply put, algorithms are a series of instructions for completing a task. They’re used every day for a multitude of purposes, and you likely use them without even thinking about it. When you get dressed, tie your shoes, or drive to work each day, you perform a series of steps to arrive at an end goal. It’s essential to execute the steps in a specific order or the outcome won’t be right.

Some might compare an algorithm to a recipe, but cooking recipes tend to have wiggle room for creativity and interpretation — not so with an algorithm. The program instructions need to be very clear with a focused terminating point to be effective. Another difference between algorithms and recipes? You can’t eat an algorithm — though some of them take the shape of cookies.

In the computer science sense, algorithms are used to solve problems like finding the largest number in a list or sorting items alphabetically. Similarly, search engines like Google use algorithms to determine the ideal order of websites to display in their results based on a series of specific criteria.

What Are SEO Algorithms?

When it comes to search engines and social media platforms, algorithms are used to provide the most beneficial answers to a person’s query. While companies like Google often keep the exact details of their algorithms secret, some hints are often given to guide website owners, and other information can often be deduced by how the results have changed.

Algorithms used in search engine optimization (SEO) are constantly changing to become more sophisticated. In fact, Google releases thousands of algorithm updates per year to refine its results, but most of these go unnoticed because of how insignificant they are. Every once in a while, though, there are major updates, including what Google calls “Core Updates” to its algorithm. Depending on your industry and how your website is set up, you may notice big changes in your site performance or none at all.

Examples of Google Algorithms

Our SEO specialists keep a close eye on how search engines like Google evolve over time, ensuring your dental or medical website remains relevant and visible within your market. As algorithms are gradually updated, even with small changes to various ranking factors, we utilize this data to continuously optimize our clients’ websites. We often introduce and explain these updates here in our weekly Rosemont Review posts, as well, to keep you in the know.

Some of Google’s major algorithm updates over the years that had more of an impact on the medical and dental industries include:

  • Page Experience Update: Offered a boost in rankings for websites with fast loading speeds, a responsive layout, and stable visual elements.
  • May 2020 Core Update: Reinforced the goal of having regularly updated, high-quality website content.
  • “Medic” Core Update: Rewarded sites that demonstrated expertise, authoritativeness, trust, and high-quality interlinking.
  • Mobile-Friendly Update: Gave priority in mobile search results to websites with mobile-friendly layouts.
  • Penguin Updates: A series of updates built into Google’s core algorithm that target the need to avoid manipulative behavior like keyword stuffing and bad links.
  • HTTPS/SSL Update: Favored sites that were secure, offering a subtle rankings boost to those that utilized encryption as well.
  • Panda Updates: A series of updates to prevent websites with low-quality content, like shallow or duplicate content, from ranking at the top of search results.
  • Pigeon Updates: Prioritized sites in local search that had more helpful and relevant information for the searcher.
  • Hummingbird Updates: Focused on each word of a search query and its overall meaning to deliver more precise search results.

The above list of SEO algorithm updates is only a tiny fraction of what Google has released over the past decade-plus. This is why it’s essential to not only create a great website for your practice, but regularly maintain it based on what’s most beneficial for readers and, therefore, search engines.

Stay on Top of Algorithm Updates with Rosemont Media

With the ever-changing nature of Google and other search engines’ algorithms, it can be difficult to know if your website is up to the current standards. And while some ranking changes are inevitable, it can help to have a dedicated digital marketing team on your side to enhance your success. Contact our team at Rosemont Media today to learn more!

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on March 14, 2017.

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Katie is the Senior Content & SEO Strategist at Rosemont Media. Growing up in Illinois surrounded by corn fields, Katie started her transition west by attending Augustana College in the Quad Cities, where she received her BA in Business Administration and Communication Studies. After earning her degree, Katie made her way to San Diego to experience the bliss of living in paradise as she pursued a career in marketing. A Midwesterner at heart, she ultimately returned to Illinois to be closer to family. In her free time, Katie enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and exploring the local brewery scene.