Is Google’s New Florida Algorithm a Game-Changer?

A man sitting on a lounger, with a speech bubble saying "Florida"

Google search results are based on certain criteria. That’s what Google algorithms are: a set of rules the search engine follows when determining the results of your search.

Google algorithms take a whole lot of factors into account: article length and keyword use, headers and titles, etc.

These criteria are constantly updated and improved.

Algorithms’ “broad core updates” aim to achieve better interpretation of search queries and web page structures, resulting in Google’s improved matchmaking of the queries with the webpages, and hence hopefully increase user satisfaction.

The Florida 1

The first big Google algorithm update, Google Florida, happened in 2003. The algorithm was named after the PubCon Florida SEO conference.

The update signified a huge revolution in the SEO history; it affected the ranking lists in a really major way. 50-98% of previously ranking websites were taken down. The update filter targeted affiliate sites with a bunch of keyword links pointing back to the homepage of the respective website.

While a big number of commercial websites, such as clothing and jewelry brands, were negatively affected by the Florida update, casino websites didn’t activate the filter.

At the same time, a number of authentic low-ranking websites were removed in the aftermath.

The Florida 2

The March Brand Core Update On March 2nd, 2019 a new broad core algorithm update, Florida 2, was released. While the name of the algorithm might make you assume it’s a newer, updated or improved version of the old Florida algorithm, in essence the new algorithm is not related to Florida 1 at all.

The only reason the new update was called Florida 2 by Brett Tabke, the owner of the WebmasterWorld forum, is that, the update again coincided with the date of the PubCon conference.

It’s worth a mention that Google representatives themselves rejected the name, saying they prefer concentrating on the core essence of the updates, instead of naming them.

screenshot, where google denies the Florida update name

As for a formal reference name to the update, Google prefers “March 2019 update,” as it gives information on the update type and release date.

How Big is the March 2019 Google Update?

how massive was the march brand core update

While the update is considered a brand core update and has caused a lot of buzz and guessing in the SEO world, Google has officially announced that the March 2019 update is by far not the biggest one.

However, the representatives refused to further explain just how big the new core update actually is.

It was stated that the update aims to improve previous Google algorithms and solve the issues of legit websites brutally hit by previous core updates.

It was also mentioned that the March 2019 update, being a brand core update, is not only related to the Florida 1 but to the previous Penguin update as well.

As for the neural matching algorithm factor, Google assured the brand core updates are not related to the updates of the neural matching algorithm. Moreover, no neural matching algorithm update releases fell on the same dates as the Florida 2. The former is an algorithm used for adjusting Google’s search results to its latest version of AI technology.

The Goal of the Update

Summarizing the official statements of Google, the March 2019 brand core update strives to improve user satisfaction.

Google increased the importance of the user factor and hence, in simple terms, users see what they wanna see.

Thanks to the update, higher quality content will get more attention, as access to it will be easier.

Google has stated that its intentions are nothing like marking content “high quality” when there are more links to the source.

In reality, the number of links-to doesn’t hold much weight, since the best answers to certain queries are often found in less popular and less-linked websites.

Instead of respecting established authorities, the algorithm is supposed to analyze click metrics, as well as user satisfaction, along with its metrics, such as the bounce rate, the time spent on the page, etc.

Targeted Sectors

Numerous SEO specialists believe Google algorithm updates often target specific types of websites.

As for the March 2019 update, the popular consensus is that it targets health and medical websites. However, Google assures, brand core updates are not “targeting” anything or anyone and since Florida 2 update is a brand core update, it does not target any particular niches or sectors.

The aim of the update was, as mentioned, to generally improve the quality of matching websites to corresponding search queries. So far several changes were spotted as a result of the update, such as:

  • Websites with high quality content noticed a raise in traffic after the new update release.
  • Short term keyword rankings have changed drastically.
  • Backlink quality increased in importance.
  • Vehicle, health, and pet-directed websites were particularly affected.
  • Websites for automatic link-building decreased in rankings.
  • No specific niche-directed changes noticed yet.
  • Google query interpretation trends changed.
  • A connection has been noticed between anchor text (words used as a link to another website) optimization and page ranking, however the information doesn’t seem reliable yet.

Even though Google has reassured that the ranking is purely the result of user engagement and the algorithm does not “trust” any specific authoritative brands, some have also noticed the increased importance of link “authority” and ranking.

The March update is not about trust. The website’s trustworthiness holds whether it’s spam or not. John Mueller stated:

“I don’t know that we’d call it trust or anything crazy like that.”

How to Respond to the Broad Core Update

so what now

As there is a major algorithm change naturally the question “So what now?” arises. What should marketers do in 2019 to “survive” the new algorithm?

Well, according to official announcements of Google, there’s no specific technical fix for a website that started performing relatively worse in the aftermath of the update.

The only way is to stay focused on producing helpful and unique content: the update is reportedly aimed at valuing information and user needs.

Since the March 2019 update is user-satisfaction-oriented, you should make quality-related improvements.

By saying high quality content, we, of course, mean content that is informative, optimal, easy-to-digest and diverse in forms and media. Content that is relevant to your visitors and will help them find the answer to their questions will always be valued.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison has stated on his Twitter account:

“We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward…”

With time, as constant monitoring notices deeper patterns of website ranking behavior, more information on the update will be available.
For the moment, all you can do is create valuable, informative, and easily understandable content for your visitors.

Before you leave, let us know in the comments what you think of the new update and whether you’ve noticed any effects on your website.

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  • Arjun Patel

    Google’s Florida Update named after the Pubcon conference was an important one in the early 20ks.

  • Adrian Harper

    Thanks for sharing this valuable google update Florida