Google Algorithm Updates: It is as often than you expect

Google Algorithm Updates: It is As Often Than You Expect

The only way to ensure that SEO is effective for institutions, businesses or anything online is understanding how often Google Algorithms are updated.

According to a report that was released in 2018, there were 3,000 improvements to search on Google, a number that was 8 times more that the updates that were recorded in 2017. This means that the algorithm updates are rapidly changing, putting in mind that the period recorded was less than a decade and an average record of 9 updates per day. Below is a list of the confirmed counts:

  • 2018 – 3,234 “improvements”
  • 2017 – 2,453 “changes”
  • 2016 – 1,653 “improvements”
  • 2013 – 890 “improvements”
  • 2012 – 665 “launches”
  • 2011 – 538 “launches”
  • 2010 – 516 “changes”
  • 2009 – 350–400 “changes”

A little Background on Algorithm Change Update

According to a youtube video by Matt Cutts responding to a question asked on the number of changes that Google had made for their primary search algorithm in 2010, he stated that they make an average of 1 update every day depending on how a language had been segmented or even a better synonym. This gives us an idea of the number of updates that were done then bringing them to an average of 350 to 400 annually depending on the number of launches lined up. If this was done then that means that presumably, Google is carrying out many more algorithm changes per day today.

READ: The History of Google Algorithms

According to Eric Schmidt’s testimony given to congress during the fall of 2011, a number of precise evaluations are carried out by Google in 2010 to understand if the proposed algorithm changes had an effect on the quality of search results. Two sets of search results from 8,175 experiments were done side by side, and presented to a panel of human testers who would then pick out a set of better results. In addition, 2,800 click evaluators were also engaged to gauge how real-life Google users would respond to the change. The results showed that 516 changes were dimmed useful based on the data. This showed a shocking revelation on the testing and changes.

In one of Google’s features documented online titled “How Search Works”, the above experiments and results were recorded. This however, did not include records for the earlier years, but they can be found in the Internet Archives. One of the most incredible growth of precision evaluation showed a remarkable shift from 13, 311 to 118,812 within a period of two years.

What is the relation between Weather and Algorithm Change?

It is interesting to note that there is a direct relation between Temperature and Google rankings. According to MozCast (an experiment in tracking the weather patterns of the Google algorithm), the higher the temperature, the more changes were noted on the rankings on Google within a period of 24 hours. MozCast used the same set of keywords during a period of 5 years at a temperature of 70 Degrees and the comparison made showed the temperature ranges were not fixed.

A set of 1,000 keywords were deliberately selected and distributed evenly in 5 bins and monitored at almost the same time every day from one location in order to maintain controls. Every set of about 10 keywords were picked and compared to the previous day’s set of the 10 top keywords and hence calculate the rate of change. It is, however, keen to note that the error measurements are somewhat huge, which tend to interfere with the interpretation, putting in mind that search engine rankings tend to be loud.

According to Matt Cutis, they would meet to discuss between 12 to 6 or 8 or 10 things to be launched, but this would only be rolled out once approved. This means that Google algorithm updates are likely not to have a specific pattern, since it is based on what has been approved and hence they are rolled out in batches. There is evidence of a weekly pattern during clear episodes of ranking changes according to a study done in 2016.

Although there are Google updates everyday, the main ranking factors stay the same. READ: Google Ranking Factors You Should Know About in 2020.

How Important are the Algorithm Updates

Some of the updates made would be considered as minimal. These changes may not be known to us especially where SEO is concerned. This is because the changes could either be new features in the market and a good example in this case would be User Interface (UI) changes.

New elements are being added even as Features and SERP verticals evolve. There are a number of areas that are already moving that need to be improved and if possible fixed. We are yet to see an increase in the rate of change putting in mind that Local SEO has in the recent past i.e. 2-3years experienced a rapid change. This tells us that we will expect to see an increase in the overall rate of change.


Some of the changes affected by Google might not necessarily applicable to user. A good example is when Google decides to make misspelled correction for a Kenyan brand, this will not be of use for most of the users in the United States, but it would be very useful for the Kenyan brand. Some changes might be vertical-specific bringing in a radical change in a specific Industry and yet have no effect beyond that industry.

This is however not to say that we should ignore any updates on algorithm changes. It is important to ensure that you look out for any changes despite the fact that they won’t affect SEOs. This will ensure that you are always prepared and also seize any opportunity that will present itself. It is a norm to experience different weather patterns but again you are almost always subconsciously looking out to know what tomorrow or the day after will look like. That is the right attitude towards algorithm changes.

We cannot ignore the fact that there have been thousands of algorithm changes that have occurred in the past. We therefore need to ensure that we check out for major changes that will present themselves in the near future in order to be relevant.

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About the Author:

My name is Wynn Zhou - SEO expert in Singapore, and I’m the founder & Director here at Digital M which provide digital marketing and SEO in Singapore. I’ll be getting my 10 years of digital marketing experience, I am personally focussed on getting your business to the top of Google so you can enjoy the growth of up to 295% year on year like my other clients.
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