Looking Back at 2019: An Overview of Google Search Algorithm Updates

Google has been launching new algorithm updates since its’ early days. It’s always working on improving user experience and the results the algorithms show. 

Some search updates are huge and affect websites of all sizes and industries. 

Google calls those “Core Updates.”

Other updates have a smaller impact in general. But once they add up, they can have a significant effect on your website and your company’s future.

In this detailed report, we’ll share with you the biggest updates we’ve seen on Google in 2019. You’ll get a better understanding of where Google is heading in the future. 

By the end of this, you’ll also learn how to align your business objectives with Google’s vision so you can achieve better rankings.

Let’s get started.


Newsgate Algorithm Update

This was the first algorithm update in 2019, which came out in the first two weeks of January. 

Google didn’t announce the roll-out of this update. Yet, tracking tools picked up some drastic changes in rankings and traffic. 

The new algorithm mainly affected news websites and popular blogs. It came to give original content creators a fair chance of getting traffic to their sites. 

Sites that publish slightly tweaked content without any new information were negatively affected and lost lots of traffic. Websites that shared unconfirmed news also saw a massive decrease in their rankings and visitors.


March 2019 Core Update

On March 12, Google rolled out of the first core update for 2019. It was first announced via Google SearchLiason’s Twitter account — and was later confirmed by Danny Sullivan.



There was a lot of talk about what has changed after this update and how it affected search results. 

Some said that it affected backlinks and spammy blog networks, others believe that it was directed towards the health sector. 

However, to this day, nothing was confirmed by Google. 


June 2019 Core Update

Google pre-announced on June 2nd, 2019, that a new core update was coming out in the next few days.

According to industry experts, this is one of the biggest updates Google rolled out in 2019. But, the search engine giant didn’t provide any further details about the changes it made. 

There was no clear pattern for what industries were most affected by this.



It took about five days for the whole update to roll out where SEOs began to see changes in their rankings and analytics.


Diversity Update

A few days later, Google rolled out a new algorithm update that was unrelated to the previous one.

The new algorithm came to offer some diversity in the search results. It minimized the number of results that come from the same website on a single page. 

Websites now can only get up to two spots in the SERPs for the same query. 



This update isn’t generalized across all websites where more than two results need to be displayed. For example, Amazon can still get multiple spots if the search term is related to items available on Amazon.

The diversity update also affects subdomains and treats them as part of the root domain. That means that a website with many subdomains can only get two spots on the first page for the same query.

The solution for this update is simple:

Create fresh content for different search terms. But remember, it has to be helpful to the user first.


Featured Snippets Update

On August 1st, Google announced on its blog a change to how featured snippets are now more focused on providing updated answers.

Some search queries require the most recent results to be displayed, while other questions have a fixed answer no matter the timing.

Here’s an example of how the results have changed:


Source: Google

As the results show, the new algorithm does a much better job of serving the most recent information. It helps provide relevant answers to the query while considering the timing. 

That allows users to get accurate results whenever timeliness matters. 

For example, if someone is looking for:

  • Updates about upcoming events
  • Recent news
  • Next solar eclipse


Search Reviews Update

Google rolled out yet another update on Monday, September 16. 

This one came to make rich results more helpful and less misleading. And It did that by limiting the schema types that displayed reviews on the SERPs.



The reason for this update was straightforward, and Google gave a full explanation for it.

Websites need to include star ratings about movies, books, and recipes, etc. But, a business displaying five-star reviews about its’ services on its site can be misleading.

Google doesn’t trust those ratings and believe them to be “biased” and “self-serving.”

The update hit websites from all industries. Yet, some companies were more affected by it than others. Businesses in finance, health, and real estate had all seen significant drops in their ratings and click-through-rates.


September 2019 Core Update

Google pre-announced another core update on 24 September 2019 on Twitter. Later that day, the search engine giant confirmed that the update was live.




This update seems to have had a significant effect on Health and Travel websites. 

The change wasn’t noticeable from the start. But, within a few days of its release, SEOs started seeing fluctuations in their rankings.


BERT Update

Google announced the rollout of BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) On October 25. 

The update is intended to improve search functionality across 70 languages worldwide. And it will be applied to both rankings and featured snippets. 

Billions of searches happen on Google every day. And 15% of those searches come with new queries the search engine has never seen before. 

Because of that, Google engineering teams have been working on developing new systems to better understand user intent and search queries.

Before this update, the search engine used to process words one-by-one. Then, it would try to guess the meaning depending on the words that preceded and followed them.

That’s where the change happened. Unlike the old system, BERT tries to understand words in relation to all the other words in the query. That allows Google to perceive the meaning of words based on the context — then deliver results accordingly.

The BERT update also allows Google to understand longer and conversational search queries.

Here’s an example of how the results have changed:

The “before” example shows how the search engine misunderstood “adult” for “young adult,” which resulted in inaccurate results.

After the update, Google can now understand that the word “adult” in the query is out of context. It can, therefore, provide more accurate results to the search user.

An update like BERT might seem like a small change because it only affects 1 in 10 queries. However, its influence on a larger scale will be significant in the next few upcoming years.


Where Google is Going With These Updates

Google’s mission for the past two decades has always been about serving the best user experience. 

Those trying to fool Google with tricks and bad content are disappearing out of sight very rapidly. 

It’s been a long time since we’ve last seen a website offering low-quality content rank first. In fact, with each new update, the black hat community loses more site rankings and traffic.

Here’s what Google had to say about this topic:




That’s why aligning your goals with that is key to the success of your online business.

Content is the most important aspect of the whole process. It has to provide genuine help to your visitors and improve their lives.

Then come other factors such as the experience users have when consuming your content. Make sure your website loads fast and is fully optimized for mobile. Don’t annoy your visitors with ads and irrelevant content.

Also, the quality of your backlinks plays a major role in putting you ahead of your competitors. 

Avoid low-quality backlinks at all costs. You should certainly stay away from any spammy blog networks or sneaky ways to get backlinks.

Planning to skyrocket your results in 2020? Get a free evaluation from our SEO experts team today. We’ll guide you through a detailed, winning process and help you improve your results in no time.

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