Another intense year on Google’s research field is about to close, with the algorithm that has undergone multiple changes and updates in order to always keep up with the times or even anticipate them. Among aesthetic trasformations on the layout both from desktop and mobile, new features on SERPs influencing users interaction or more classical broad core modifications, thanks to the support of the Search Engine Journal we traced back all of the Google search engine algorithm’s updates throughout 2019.

A summary for Google’s 2019

This list is very long, but it is not really a surprise: over the last few years the pace at which Google modifies and updates the search system has experienced Questa lista è molto lunga, ma il fatto non sorprende: negli ultimi anni il ritmo con cui Google modifica e aggiorna il sistema di ricerca has experienced a sensational speed-up. All over 2010 the interventions were less than 400, while in 2018 the company claimed to have worked about 3.200 edits on the research, almost 10 times more.

Only a slice of these variations receives public confirmation or attracts SEOs attention, though, generally only the kind of changes that can help to understand the direction the search engine decided to take to evaluate the types of contents it prioritize and better ranks.

During this ending year have been some broad core updates and other interventions on the search algorithm publicly divulged; moreover, for the first time Google instituted a convention for the naming of basic updates and implemented the comprehension of the natural language on search results.

Google’s 2019 broad core updates

We know that big updates to Google’s main engine can spark devastating effects on SERPs – everyone remembers the so-called 2018 medic update – and over this year there have been at least 3 moments in which these kind of “shake-ups” happened.

The true news of 2019 was the new Google’s way of communicating, that began to preventively inform or confirm users about main updates, that as previously mentioned were also “baptized“.

Google’s March 2019 Core Update

Already back in March we had the first variation, with the Google’s March 2019 Core Update that, even if “it is not the biggest update ever performed by Google”, still had significant impact on SERPs,  causing a volatility that lasted a few months.

Google’s June 2019 Core Update

In June there was another important modification, made even more special by the tweet with which the Google SearchLiasion account heralded its launch, first time ever: Google’s June 2019 Core Update caused several aftershocks to search results and had quite blatant effects even here in Italy.

Google’s September 2019 Core Update

Three months go by and here goes yet another broad core update, precisely called September 2019 core update: the effects onto SERPs are milder this time around, but it seems that the algorithm’s attention mainly turned to the ranking of the Your Money Your Life sites.

Here it comes Google Bert for the comprehension of natural language

On October 25th there was another crucial announcement, a.k.a the integration of Google BERT, the new algorithm to interpret queries: announced as the biggest change to the search system since 2015, BERT is an open source technique for the comprehension of the natural language that is going to improve the search engine’s understanding of queries, especially for the written or read out loud long tail queries.

This technique’s debut had mild effects or effects still not really measurable by the tools, but it is something we are surely going to deal with in the next months and beyond; furthermore, BERT not only concernes the ranking of blue links inside the SERPs, but featured snippet and other enriched features of the search result pages as well. Moreover, right after a running-in phase Google BERT has also been released in over 70 different languages and countries.

Other confirmed Google updates

If this was the list of the “juiciest” changes, over the year there has been other fluctuations, variations and swings sparked by less visible interventions; on some cases, Google confirmed its fingerprints, especially for 4 specific changes in the algorithm.

Different factors and EAT impact on YMYL queries

Google published a white paper in order to explain its battle against misinformation on products such as Google News, YouTube and Search, in which we can also read about the different kind of attention the Your Money Your Life contents are under. A topic covered in details over and over again given its sensitiveness, that indeed concernes financial, medical or any other kind of vital question to people.

This translates into a different possible evaluation of contents about the subject, that need to more strictly comply with the reliability and safety standards of the search engine and match the EAT paradigm criterion, that influence their ranking.

Google Diversity Change

Alongside the broad core update, back in June Google also launched an update aiming to bring more variation and diversity on SERPs, by limiting a single domain to have two results tops among the main search results for a query.

This rule only applies to main results (so not to other functions such as featured stories, video snippets, carousels of images and so on), and Google reserves its right to show multiple results from the same domain whenever it deems particularly fitting to do so; at the same time, sub-domains can be treated as a separate site when considered appropriate.

An analysis on the eeffects of Diversity Change revealed that the keywords giving back three URLs of the same domain has dropped from the 6,7% of times to 3,5% and that the intent the query is based on (navigational, informational or transactional) plays a key role in the actual diversity of results.

Prompt featured snippet

At the beginning of August Big G’s interest focused on the promptness of info, with modifications targeted to make the most recent contens emerge on featured snippets. Thanks to this update, editors who keep their pages updated or that regularly publish the most recent information available can benefit of a greater visibility on featured snippets.

Quality news and original reports

In September, yet again, Google News manager Richard Gingras announces an algorithmic change made to better highlight on Research SERPs, Google News and Discovery all the unique reports and quality news resulting from a fair journalistic work of sources discovery, further insight and release.

Other cases of noted but not confirmed volatility

We knsow that Google works daily modification to search algorithms and the major part of them is not even announced; in some cases, though, the SEO community perceive some heavier variations than the usual average, often confirmed by tracking tools.

During this 2019 these cases happened back in January, July and last November, when Google also commented (in a very mild way) to “have performed several updates, as we regularly perform several updates every week”.

According to the SEO we don’t need to chase updates

In the end, 2019 was quite an intense and bumpy year, that made the on-site SEO activity pretty hectic. The suggestion we can give to whoever works in this field is to not try and chase the updates, any given Google’s modification and set the strategy only “ex post”, but to rather focus on some pivotal aspects and keep on doing that.

There are some best pratices to follow to recover a site’s rank after any Google update happens, revealed by the Googlers themselves, but most of all we have as reference the indications to build quality sites, a.k.a to focus on the production of good contents, to provide a good user experience, not to cave in the black hat SEO temptations of ranking manipulation and so on.