New & Noteworthy Google Algorithm Updates 2021

Google algorithm updates 2021

It’s crucial to remember that Google algorithms change constantly. As a result, it can be extremely difficult to keep up because Google don’t always notify us about an update.

Added to that their advice is frequently insufficient in detail on how to optimise our sites correctly. And to be fair if we did, we could and probably would find ways to manipulate our sites to the exact requirements. Google does not want that.

Through the years of search engine optimisation, there have been many loopholes that have been exploited by disreputable companies. Therefore Google constantly seeks to improve these areas in its quest to provide quality, accurate content and an outstanding user experience.

This article will take you through some of the biggest updates to affect the Google Algorithm and what kind of impact they have had on optimisation.

Google Updates 2021 explained

image of 2 phones to show passage ranking update

Passage ranking update

Passage-based indexing updates

The most difficult types of searches to execute are the ones that are extremely particular because often the single sentence that answers your question may be hidden deep in a website. Google has made significant progress in this area lately and is now able to not just index web pages, but also individual sections from them.

They can locate that needle-in-a-haystack single sentence and target it for a specific search query. This will be a huge improvement for users to find specific information in the shortest possible time.

Google has also been drastically improving its use of machine learning to determine how important a particular section is on a webpage, ultimately sorting your results based on this value.

Helping the user find exactly what they’re looking for

Google Search is based on their ability to comprehend your query and serve relevant results for that search. They have put a lot of energy into language understanding research, and last year showed how BERT language understanding systems are helping to provide more relevant outcomes in Google Search.

The idea however is not to optimise your posts for passage ranking, but rather to:

  • Use Long-tail Keywords

Most of your organic traffic will come from long-tail keywords, so it is important to have the correct content on your pages.

A long-tail keyword is a search query with three or more words. For example, instead of using the short-tail ‘running shoes” you could use a longer, more precise version like “best running shoes for plantar fasciitis”. 

  • High-Quality Content

Improve user experience by having longer more in-depth posts that target a wider range of keywords and allow for more understanding.Make sure every post has valuable insights that add value to help the Google Search Engine along.

  • Site Structure

To make Googlebot’s indexing job easier, structure your webpage content correctly. Use structured data markup where you can. Also, ensure your content is 100% crawlable and responsive across devices and browsers.

  • Spelling

For good reason, Google continues to improve their ability to interpret misspelled words. One in 10 queries is misspelled, which is why they’ve developed a new spelling technology that employs a deep neural net to significantly enhance their ability to understand a search query.

two phones show goole update about this result icons

About This Result update

Now appearing alongside most Google search results, you’ll see a menu icon that you can tap to learn more about the result or feature. With this additional information, you’ll have a better idea of which websites to visit and what results might be beneficial to you.

You may also discover a Wikipedia description of the website, which is free and accurate information about hundreds of thousands of websites on the web. If you’re seeking something essential, like health or financial data, that extra information might give you context or peace of mind, especially if you’ve never heard of it before.

If a website does not have a Wikipedia description, Google will display extra information, such as when the site was initially indexed by Google.

illustration of social media newsfeed

Google MUM - Multitask Unified Model (MUM)

A new information-understanding AI achievement.

The MUM text-to-text framework is 1,000 times more powerful than BERT. MUM not only comprehends language, but it also creates it. It’s been trained to understand information in 75 different languages and perform a variety of tasks at the same time, allowing it to build a deeper knowledge of facts and world knowledge than previous language-understanding AI’s.

Google MUM’s biggest achievement is 100% accuracy in language comprehension and generation, allowing it to understand natural language queries and generate relevant answers for users.

It does this by carrying out deep learning tasks that require major computing power to resolve complex issues like semantic reasoning, question answering, sentence modelling, and general science.

SEE: Introducing MUM

illustration of backlinks

Link Spam Update

To combat the rise in low-quality content and other deceptive practices such as paid links, Google’s launching a new spam classifier update.

Google says it’ll dole out lower rankings for sites with misleading links, which includes links from compromised sites, purchased links intended to manipulate page rank, and any site deliberately trying to influence search engine results.

Backlinks are a direct and significant ranking signal. Websites that have more links are generally viewed as being more reputable, and therefore are ranked higher up. They are also seen as having better, more authoritative content. However high-quality links far outweigh the quantity of links.

Google has become increasingly sophisticated at understanding link quality as website owners have tried various methods to manipulate rankings through unnatural backlinking practices.

Google Advises – 

The Following are the best practices for links, both incoming and outgoing. Instead of trying to manipulate links, focusing on producing high-quality content and improving user experience will to lead to better results.

Use appropriately tagged links to promote awareness of your site while and show monetised links with appropriately labelled affiliate connections. 

SEE: Link Schemes

core web vitals LCP FID CLS diagram

Page Experience Update

Google analyses all of the above signals and gives each website an overall “page experience” rating. Site owners may see their score in the new page experience report in Search Console.

They use the following signals to determine an overall user experience

Core Algorithm Update

  • Interruptive self-promotion/website redirection – Does your webpage redirect elsewhere or contain overly promotional content, like pop-up ads?
  • Mobile-friendliness – When your site is viewed on mobile devices, does it perform well?
  • Ads – Are there ads that obstruct webpage content?
  • Page Loading Speed – not only the load of the entire page – but the time to the first interaction.

SEE: Page Experience Update.

This article goes into more depth about the Core Web Vitals signals and how you can optimise your site accordingly.

illustration of man looking at search results

Page Title Update

Google says it will alter how it implements the title element, in order to support more descriptive titles.

At the moment, if there are multiple elements on a webpage that could be used as a page title (including modules like breadcrumbs), Google will look at all of them and display the most relevant one. Google says this change is meant to support more accurate and informative titles.

This change has enraged the SEO community as Google hasn’t always been able to replace the context of the page with an accurate title, and many site owners have seen drops in traffic as a result.

Google made a statement to say this was not a new update and has for a long time use this algorithm to provide a more accurate description of the page content. The major goal for webmasters should be to provide accurate, high-quality content that is relevant to the page title.

It’s not necessary to do any special preparations in advance of the change. Instead, keep an eye on your analytics and make adjustments as needed if there is a loss in traffic.

illustration of customers sharing content

Product reviews update

From Google:

Through testing, experimenting, and review procedures, Google Search is always working to provide the most useful and beneficial information possible. From this, we know that consumers value in-depth product reviews rather than thin content that simply summarises a number of items.

That’s why we’re announcing an update to our ranking systems, referred to as the product reviews update. Google is seeking comprehensive and unique product review material.

To create high-quality product review content, Google recommends that you:

  • Demonstrate your product knowledge and expertise.
  • Exceed the usual content supplied by your supplier.
  • Look at quantifiable criteria for success.
  • Highlight product comparisons.
  • Assist your customer in making an educated purchasing decision.


Illustration of social media forum

Mobile-First Indexing

The mobile-friendly update was important for websites that want to rank well in Google Search. Google uses mobile only to index your site. It is imperative that site owners focus on all things mobile:

  • Mobile Speed
  • Responsiveness
  • User Experience

When developing a website to meet this requirement, keep in mind that more than half of all users are currently using a mobile device for search. And we can anticipate that number to rise dramatically as time goes on. That is why Google has moved to mobile-first indexing.


Google’s Algorithms have been updated a number of times over the last decade, and we can expect to see more changes in 2021. If you want your website to stay at the top of search engine rankings for as long as possible, now is the time to start thinking about what those updates might mean for you.

If you’re not ready for the next iteration of the search engine wars, don’t worry, with time and research, most things can be fixed.

SEO specialists are an essential part of any business marketing strategy and there’s no better time than right now to get started with one. Contact us today if you need help implementing our proven SEO strategies that will ensure your site stays high on Google’s SERPs this year and beyond.


As we turn to the digital age, marketers need to stay up-to-date with best marketing practices. Hardcraft Digital provides cutting edge advice and tips for success in an ever-changing world of digital marketing.

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