In 2022, Google remains the most used search engine in France (92%) with 8.2 billion searches typed per day, i.e., 95,000 queries/second (infographic Stéphane Serra, digital benchmark and SEO audit specialist). You therefore watch, like fuel on the fire, for changes in your positions in the Google results pages, especially if you are betting on your organic traffic to attract customers or readers. And you shudder at each announcement of changes to the search algorithm, to know which SEO parameters will be affected. Multiple 2022 Google Algorithm Updates were rolled out between June and September causing SERP positions to waltz this summer and in the months that follow.
If the minor or major changes to the search engine’s algorithm have impacted you, don’t panic! SEO experts have analyzed the variations in positions following these 2022 Google algorithm updates, to understand the reasons. And the least we can say is that the impact seems small for most of the 1.98 billion websites, especially for those that prioritize the user experience, rather than robots. Google. Summary of everything you need to know about Google Updates 2022.
A constantly improved complex search algorithm
How does the Google Search algorithm work?
The Google Search algorithm aims to understand the search intent of the Internet user in order to extract the most relevant information from all the resources on the web. The exact recipe for how the Google algorithm works remains partly a mystery. It is a computer program that combines already existing heterogeneous elements to predict the user’s search intent and provide him with a relevant ranking of answers. The launch of major updates (MAJ) is now announced, but not their effects, which often collide. Indeed, the evolutions of the predictive algorithm of the search engine do not immediately modify the positioning of the pages, because the robots take some time to update the index.
The Google search engine is a predictive algorithm updated regularly, which seeks to understand, thanks to artificial intelligence, the search intention of the Internet user.
To appear in the search results pages (SERPs), one of the Google robots must first visit your page: they thus browse 20 billion pages each day. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the bots sort and list by keywords the URLs in Google’s Mobile First index. Then, using weighted parameters, the Google search engine algorithm can sort through the 130 billion indexed pages in order to respond to the Internet user’s request.
Over a dozen daily algorithm changes in 2022
There is not a ranking algorithm, but a superposition of a multitude of computer programs implemented little by little by the Mountain View firm. They make it possible to refine the search results, to each fight against a specific problem or to highlight an SEO performance parameter. Natural referencing is therefore a volatile science!
Google engineers are constantly testing new modifications (460,000 tests in 2019, according to the firm). For example, in 2020, the company implemented (added, modified or removed) nearly 5,000 algorithm improvements, or 13 updates/day. It is therefore difficult to keep abreast of all these developments. Especially since Danny Sullivan, their spokesperson, only announces major updates via Twitter (@searchliaison) and the advice given by Google to webmasters is often very general. They have long taken names of animals or characters (Penguin, Panda, Bert, Phantom, Fred), to be called now more soberly Core Updates.
Main updates: Core Updates
An extra layer of artificial intelligence: MUM
Google announced in mid-May, during the Google I/O event, the internal test of a new version of its algorithm with MUM (Multitask Unified Model or Unified Multitasking Model). This is an improvement in the semantic understanding of search intentions by artificial intelligence, 1,000 times more powerful than BERT (algorithm deployed at the end of 2019). As Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President, explains, “MUM doesn’t just understand language, it also generates it. He is trained in 75 different languages and many different tasks at once, allowing him to develop a more comprehensive understanding of information and knowledge of the world than previous models. This summer, a test was launched to demonstrate its potential, which enabled MUM to collect, in a few seconds,
MUM should also reduce the number of consecutive queries needed to find complex information (comparative or contextual). This currently requires 8 on average, but ideally, the user should find his answer the first time. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be able to retrieve information from a site in a different language if the answer is more relevant there and translate it to us, in order to have a more complete knowledge of the world. Finally, MUM is multitasking (faster) and will eventually be multimodal with visual and voice recognition of texts, images or videos. We are beginning to see the functionalities possible thanks to MUM in the United States: enlarged images according to the search topic, enriched information on the source in the SERP,
Two 2022 Google Algorithm Updates in One: The June and July Core Updates
The year ended with a Core Update, launched on December 4, 2020, which caused major positioning changes for many websites. After 6 months of respite to recover from this earthquake and the announcement of the future deployment of MUM in mid-May, Google reveals on June 2, 2022 the launch of the June Core Update.
It is actually a double update of the Google 2022 algorithm, with a 1st part implemented from June 2 to 12 and a 2nd part, the July Core Update, which came to complete it between July 1 and end of August.
The effects of this double update were not very visible compared to the previous ones, probably because it was deployed over time. Additionally, its release framed other 2022 Google Algorithm Updates this summer, which diluted the effects of both. Webmasters and SEO consultants who tried to analyze the why and how of winning and losing sites must have had a lot of headaches this summer.
Last major update of 2022: the November Core Update
Announced on social networks on November 18, still without notice of launch, the November Core Update will be deployed by the social media verification agency from November 17 over a period of 15 days. As usual, no specifics on what’s new or fixed, other than to refer to the generic advice on what site owners need to know about algorithm updates.
Core Updates are a global process that goes to the heart of the sites ranking system. We can at least note that they concern pages as much as images, videos, featured snippets, local SEO, FAQs, Google News, Google Discover, Google shopping, etc.
Other 2022 Google Algorithm Updates
La Page Experience Update et les Core Web Vitals
Among the 2022 Google Algorithm Updates that have been buzzing all summer is the Page Experience Update which started on June 15 and ended at the end of August. Its objective is to better measure the quality of the user experience (UX) by grouping KPIs (key performance indicators) already taken into account:
- the loading speed of the site;
- secure browsing (HTTPS);
- mobile compatibility;
- guidelines on intrusive interstitials (pop-up window, for example).
To these UX benchmarks, the Page Experience update adds 3 new, highly technical metrics, Core Web Vitals:
- Loading: the LCP, Largest Concertful Paint, measures the loading time of the most important and visible part of the site in the browser window. LCP is good below 2.5s.
- Interactivity: the FID, First Input Delay, corresponds to the reaction time of the page when the user performs his first action (for example a click). Preferably < 100 Ms.
- Visual stability: the CLS, Cumulative Layout Shift, does not measure the loading speed, but rather the loading shift of different more or less heavy elements, which can cause unexpected movement of the elements during the course of the page. The user experience is then very unpleasant when you want to click on an element and it moves before being able to select it.
Finally, since June 15, this update also provides access to Search Console Insights. These combine the analysis of KPIs from Google Analytics and Search Console, to help you better understand the content that attracts your audience.
A major adaptation of the search system to combat spam
Announced this time on the Google Search Central blog, the Link Spam Update 2022 is an adaptation of the algorithm (doubled with a manual check) aimed at penalizing webmasters who do not declare their affiliate or sponsored links. They must use the appropriate attribute or tag and in no follow. The implementation lasted a month and hit hard the economic model of certain sites which live partly from the affiliation. This will also affect guest blogging articles written for the sole purpose of having a backlink. Google is targeting low-quality link building sites that “will see changes in search as those links are re-evaluated by our algorithms.”
Google claims to detect 40 billion spam messages per day in total. Thanks to its AI, Google robots do not index most spam and the search algorithm filters the others. So, for 99% of visits to Google Search, no spam will show up.
Google Search Results Page Appearance Changes in 2022
Also note this summer 2022, changes in the display of titles in the SERPs, on which the firm had not communicated, and which caused a real Title gate among specialists. Google can potentially truncate, lengthen, replace your meta title with h1 or h2. In fact, 87% of <title> tags are not rewritten. Additionally, it may affect your click-through rate by altering the appearance of the SERPs, but it does not affect page rankings.
Many other length variations were also observed (featured snippets, FAQ, People Also Asked, etc.) in the results pages, pushing the natural results always a little lower. But as with the titles, the appearance of the SERPs seems to have stabilized.
In summary, if you have seen a slight change in your positions following the 2022 Google algorithm updates, do not panic. Finally, the positioning variations are very low (+1% to -3%) at the end of the summer, even for those who have improved their KPIs. To rank on many queries, no more SEO tricks more or less unpleasant for the user experience. Make way for high-quality content that will bring you credibility, qualified traffic, leads by working on your expertise (EAT) and browsing experience on your site (UX). Do not think about pleasing Google robots anymore, because the search algorithm, thanks to MUM, thinks more and more like a human!
Article written by Diane Schachinger during the Web Writing Training
History of the major evolutions of the algorithm until 2020
- September 1998: founding of Google Inc. by Larry Page and Sergey Brin who created Google Search.
- 2002: 1st update of the website ranking tool.
- September 2003: creation of a secondary index.
- February 2011: Panda, very important evolution of the algorithm to favor quality sites. Thanks to machine learning, it evaluates the content of indexed pages and the behavior of Internet users.
- April 2012: Penguin aims to penalize sites that over-optimize their SEO (black hat SEO).
- September 2013: Colibri is the advent of semantic search for voice search in particular.
- July 2014: Pigeon for local results.
- April 2015: Mobile First Index, Google’s main index is now based on the evaluation of sites on their mobile version, even for their ranking on desktop (PC). It penalizes sites whose layout does not adapt well to different screen formats (responsive design).
- October 2015: With Rank Brain, Google leverages AI machine learning to better analyze the long tails (long queries) of Google Search users.
- October and December 2019: Bert makes it possible, thanks to ever more efficient AI, to understand natural and conversational language and to understand keyword variations.