The Changing World of SEO

At Accelerator Websites, we pretty much live and breathe to get your site to rank higher for keywords your prospects might enter into Google.  I thought it’d be fun to show you what we’ve been up against the past few years in the pursuit of doing just that.

The Algo

Google searches are still the most predominate searches today, so this is certainly one search engine we pay attention to.  No one knows exactly how the Google search algorithm works to rank sites in search results, but there are thousands of people who have specialized their careers in trying.

Google is fond of changing their algorithm on a regular basis, and they’ve even named some of the major updates.  Here are the big ones over the last few years:


Panda first appeared in 2011 and got much stronger in 2016.  It penalizes sites for duplicate or thin content, spammy comments, and keyword-stuffing.  The intent is to penalize lower quality sites and reward high quality sites with original content.


Google runs a sort of personality contest when they rank sites. Sites that have links to them from other sites, especially high credibility sites, will rank higher than sites with fewer links.  Penguin’s goal is to penalize sites that took advantage of this feature simply for ranking purposes.  Some people exchanged links, others filled links with keywords, still others asked for links.  I get several emails every week asking me to put links on my sites.  There are even types of links: dofollow, nofollow, etc.

Links are still incredibly important; they are the #1 or #2 top ranking factor. But they must be earned naturally.


In 2013, Google introduced Hummingbird which is designed to bring AI into Google search and better interpret longer keyword phrase searches.


Pigeon makes local SEO much more important.  As of 2014, putting a city in your search results and on your pages can help Google send better local results.


In 2015, Google started rewarding sites that were designed for mobile.  That includes the design as well as speed and UI.


This is part of Hummingbird and was first introduced in 2015.  This is the algorithm change that is causing us the most trouble in the profession.  When someone searches for a bookkeeper, jobs come up before small accounting firms.  Small business owners will need to search for bookkeeping services, bookkeeping businesses, or CPA firms in order for us to rank.


In 2016, Possum affected local search.  Businesses need to use far more keywords than before to rank well after Possum.


Fred came along in 2017.  It doesn’t have much impact on us. It targets affiliate sites and sites with low content and high ads.


Medic first dropped in August 2018.  It is believed to impact sites in the health care field, but we’re still learning about this one.

So, as you can see, we’re pretty busy behind the scenes trying to adjust your site content for these changes.  Do know we’re on it, so you don’t have to be.  But also be patient with us as our world changes as much as yours does.