The First Google Algorithm Update: Florida

The early days of the internet were like the wild west.  For those that didn’t know, finding your way around the Web relied on word-of-mouth for the most part. Then, directories like Yahoo came around making it easier to find websites around the world.

It wasn’t long after that we saw directories switch to search engines. Google, Ask, and Yahoo were dominant players. Tech-savvy webmasters used SEO efforts to rank well in search engine results. But their efforts muddied search results.

When Google rolled out their first algorithm the internet was in a panic.  This algorithm was called Florida.

Many websites who were performing well tanked overnight.  Many SEO’s and webmasters were shocked by the loss of traffic as a result of the algorithm update.

15 Years Ago: The First Google Algorithm Update

The year was 2003 and search listings were a mess.  The widespread of abuse with black hat SEO tactics like  keyword stuffing propelled low-quality sites  up the search rankings.

But we need to understand that Google is a business.  Like any business you want your consumers to enjoy their experience.  But when irrelevant websites are manipulating the search results to gain placement…users will have a poor experience and will stop using the search engine.

With that being said, Google’s intent is to deliver quality information in a timely manner. The purpose of the Florida algorithm update was to “clean up” the search results by targeting sites that use abusive SEO tactics. But there were unintended consequences…

The Blowback of the Florida Update

It seemed that e-commerce websites were hit the hardest with the new update.  Many of these sites relied on affiliate websites for leads and sales.  But in 2003 many e-commerce websites relied on black hat SEO which made them a primary target.

It wasn’t long before SEO’s took to the forums complaining about Google’s first algorithm update.  They accused Google of re-indexing to place greater value on AdWords.  And some speculated that it was an attack on these websites through selective filtering.

The goal was to promotive websites who had:

  • Clean meta data
  • Quality website content
  • Selective link building

How Algorithm Changes Have Reshaped the Web

The first Google update wasn’t all that bad, but it definately forced sites rethink their strategy by:

  • Reworking their content strategy as a central focus
  • Developed more broad long-term SEO strategies
  • And focus on link quality rather than quantity

There are more than 120 Google algorithm updates.  With the growing list of algorithm updates, the search engine continues to refine its results to provide the highest quality experience for searchers.

Adapting to Google: What to Do Today

I think we can all agree that Google has already rolled out their major algorithm changes.  In the future we will probably see more small tweaks to the search results if anything .  It seems that Google is happy with its current rendition of the SERP’s.

But as we all know, RankBrain is the driving force behind Google today. This AI/Machine learns and understands user queries beyond simple keyword use.  RankBrain is both adapting and learning from users which provides searchers a higher standard of relevancy than before.

But what kind of changes can you make today?

Mobile First

The mobile-first indexing rollout is an obvious hint that Google is trying to give you. If your website isn’t mobile friendly you might want to pick a  website theme that offers a responsive design.

Natural Link Building

Backlinks should account for nearly 50% of your SEO.  One of the best ways to gain natural links is by publishing quality content that attract visitors.  If your content strategy isn’t engaging and useful web developers wont link to your site.  You can find quality content writers on sites like UpWork.

Quality Content

If you have the ability to write content that is both informative and entertaining you will have success in the SERP’s.   With that being said, most of your pages should have at least 1,500 words of quality content.  If your landing pages are light on content you may not rank well in todays competitive search engine rankings.

Smart Keyword Use

Before you start writing your content you should be focused on keyword research.  There are many tools available like SEM Rush that provide in-depth reporting on search volume and competition.  Your targeted keywords should be written in your website content for proper optimization.

User Experience

There are two main factors that concern you: Bounce Rate and Click-Thru-Rate.  A bounce rate is when consumers visit your site and leave in a short period of time.  Most successful websites have bounce rates under 30%.  You can reduce your bounce rate with quality content.  You will soon see that content is one of the most important factors in SEO.

On the other hand, CTR is calculated by dividing impressions into clicks.  One of the best ways to increase your CTR is by rethinking your ad copy.  You should consider beta testing when choosing the best ad copy that serves your business.




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Tired of the Google Algorithm Dance?

You can’t fault the first Google algorithm — it corrected a murky, muddy search experience. But, updates do create an annoyance if your rankings slip. It seems like you’re teetering, one step from losing it all from a random update.

Let’s talk about Google SEO. Give us a call (855-819-3799).

Our SEO services have helped countless business in the past decade. Clients continue ranking (and growing) because our work is true to what Google wants.

We’re looking forward to how we can help your business with SEO, today.