As an SEO company, it is our responsibility to stay up to date with any recent Google Algorithm Update so we can keep ourselves and our clients ranking on the first page of the SERPs.

Unfortunately, Google does not disclose or unveil when they launch algorithm updates. This keeps us, SEO Sydney and the rest of the SEO community on our ‘toes’ – hyper-vigilant and constantly monitoring rankings for any changes that would suggest the launch of a new Google Algorithm Update. We can only ever know of a Google update after it has happened, through changes in webpage rankings and vague suggestions from Google spokespeople.

Here is an example in response to the latest Fred Update in March this year.

John Mueller (webmaster trends analyst @ google), stated that “we (Google), makes changes almost every day”, which is 3 updates on average every day – according to Gary Illes

John Mueller Post Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney
Gary Illes Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney
Although algorithm updates come out every day, there is sometimes a significant update that can influence the search engine results and consequentially website design and development forever.

In keeping up with the Google Algorithm Updates, SEO Sydney presents you with a synopsis of the last 5 major updates.


We begin our synopsis with the most recent major update of 2017 – the ‘Fred’ update released on the 7th of March. In case you’re wondering, the Fred update got its name from Gary Illes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, who suggested in a twitter post that “From now on every update….shall be called Fred”.

Gary Illes Twitter Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney

Due to heightened forum activity within the Black Hat SEO Community shortly after the Fred update was released, it is speculated that the Fred update targeted low-value content and link quality. Various reputable sources analysed the affects of the Fred Update. Search Engine Round Table reviewed over 70 websites and found that affected websites experienced a massive 50% to 90% drop in Google organic traffic. Renown digital marketing expert, Glen Gabe reported similar scenarios on how “some sites lost 50-60% of their Google organic traffic overnight”, but also reported on a stagnant website surged 125% in organic sessions.

Although Google has not officially announced how the Fred Update has affected website rankings, enough time has elapsed for the SEO community to gauge the direction of the Fred Google Update.
It appears that the Fred Update was designed to enhance its algorithm to return higher quality content to its users. Websites that were affected seemed to contain one or a number of characteristics:
If you have a website and you believe that it was affected by the Fred update, then SEO Sydney recommends to do the following:
  • Remove duplicate and unrelated content
  • Limit the amount of advertisements on your website, and only place advertisements that are relevant
  • Create relevant content that reflects your specialisation or niche
  • Update content (along with keywords) that predates 2014

An important lesson to learn from the Fred Update is to always provide content with the user in mind. Content should be updated, relevant, targeted, authoritative and in-depth. Google has provided in-depth guidelines to help websites produce better quality content.


The Possum Update enabled Google to return more relevant Google Business Listing Results by filtering out business listings that were similar to each other and prioritised the searcher’s location in a search query.

For instance (using the city of Melbourne as an example), if I were in Richmond and searched for ‘coffee in Melbourne’, Google would return the most relevant business listings to me based on my location in Richmond. Prior the Possum update, Google would not have accounted for my physical location and would have returned business listings based on organic rankings for keywords ‘coffee in Melbourne’ – perhaps giving me business listings that were within Melbourne CBD.

Coffee In Melbourne Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney

In addition, the Possum Update would be able to filter-out similar business listings in a search result. For instance, if a business had 3 different Google Business Listings with different contact information, domains and Google accounts, the Possum Update was intelligent enough to understand that the 3 different business listings were actually of the same business and return the most relevant business listing to the searcher. As a result, only one (the most relevant) of the business listings would be displayed to the searcher rather than all 3 – as would appear prior to the Possum Update. Hence, the name Possum because just like possums, just because the business listing does not appear to be in the search results, it doesn’t mean the listings have been removed.


Rank Brain (an artificial intelligent machine learning program) was created to help Google better understand and interpret search queries expressed in natural human language – search queries that were very ambiguous and based on many colloquialisms.

In paraphrasing an example given by Google research scientist, Greg Corrado in an interview with Bloomberg, an ambiguous search query may read as:

Search Query Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney

The keywords; ‘title’ and ‘consumer’ in this context are ambiguous as they can have many other meanings. In this example, ‘consumer’ is a scientific term for something that consumes food, while ‘title’ is referring to the name of the ‘consumer’, which would mean a ‘predator’ in the food-chain context.

In this example, Rank Brain has the intelligence to understand these ambiguous keywords and the intent behind the search, and deliver the appropriate results. In a similar example, Rank Brain would understand the nuances of the same search query with the same search intent, but expressed in more natural human terms:

Search Query Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney

By understanding search terms that are ambiguous and based on colloquialisms, this added function of Rank Brain affects the results that are deliver delivered to the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), making Rank Brain the 3rd most important ranking factor, after ‘links’ and ‘content’ being the other two ranking factors.


Also named Mobilegeddon (like Armageddon), to reflect the level of impact perceived it would cause to webpage rankings, the Mobile-Friendly Update was designed to boost the ranking of mobile friendly webpages in mobile search results.

Content marketing company, Bright Edge surveyed over 20,000 URLs and reported a 21% decrease in non mobile-friendly URLs on the first 3 pages of search results.

On the day that the mobile-friendly update was launched, the Google Webmaster Blog published a post explaining that the update would affect webpages that contained “text that is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling”.

mobile friendly webpage example Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney

The blog post further explained that “while the mobile-friendly change is important…the intent of search query is still a very strong signal  – so even if a page with high-quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query”.


Named by Search Engine Land as the ‘Pigeon Update’, because Pigeons tend to fly back home, this update aimed to tie local results more closely with standard web ranking signals. An example of this change was reflected when Google Web corresponded with Google Map results:

coffee melbourne search Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney

….and gave greater recognition to local directories and review sites:

Google Algorithm Update | Company SEO Sydney

The top 4 results show review sites: beanhunter, broadsheet, theurbanlist & theculturetrip.

In addition, the pigeon update recognised multiple names that would be used to refer to one area. Search Engine Land gave the example where a particular place may be called “Uptown”, whereas locals may refer to the same place as “Trackville”. As per example, Google would recognise these two names as the same place.

Post the pigeon update, Forbes advised the following 3 strategies for businesses to make their business listings relevant in the search results:

  1. Ensure Data Accuracy and Consistency Across The Web – ensuring that name, address and phone number are consistent across all business profiles and listings.
  2. Drive Customers To Google + & Local Directories – register your business with top-ranking business directories
  3. Include More High-Quality Images & Video – a strong ranking signal that could give your business ranking a boost over your competitor.

So, What Does This Mean For Us As An SEO Company?

As an SEO company, we need to keep optimising websites that build quality links, and bring about the most relevant and authoritative information to our clients, and our clients’ web users.

When it comes to creating website content, the more punch we can pack into a paragraph, the better. SEO is a mutual relationship between the SEO company and the client. We ask our clients to provide us with as much detail as possible, so we can optimise their site to its optimum potential.

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