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What is meant by google Florida update?

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    On November 16th, 2003, Google rolled out the popularly known “Florida Update.” This week on SEO Chat, we'll be taking a close look at the “Florida Update,” and what it can mean to you and your business. The name “Google Dance” has often been used to describe the index update of the Google search engine.

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    Google commenced an update (the Florida update) which had a catastrophic effect for a very large number of websites and, in the process, turned search engine optimization on its head. It is usual to give alphabetical names to Google's updates in the same way that names are given to hurricanes, and this one became known as "Florida"

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    Florida update happened on November 16th 2003. This update applied stemming, maintained local rank, penalized over optimized sites by applying filter etc. In short, it modified the*search results*before presenting it to the user by applying filters.

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    Florida — November 2003
    This was the update that put updates (and probably the SEO industry) on the map. Many sites lost ranking, and business owners were furious. Florida sounded the death knell for low-value late 90s SEO tactics, like keyword stuffing, and made the game a whole lot more interesting.

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    What is it? Google Algorithmic Udpate
    Release Date : 16th November 2003
    Impact Level : High
    Industry Effected : E-Commerce Websites, Product Affiliates
    Why Florida? Like hurricanes are named alphabetically, this update was know to be Florida, by the then naming conventions (back in 2003)

    So what exactly happened? This was one of the most significant updates to the Google Algorithm, millions of websites primarily from the e-commerce industry, ranking near the top positions for specific keywords came crashing down after this update, causing a major loss for their businesses.
    Some were affected to the extent, that they literally disappeared from the search results.

    Why was Florida released?
    Google had already put a foot down against spam, through its' previous updates. But webmasters especially e-commerce webmasters had continued to exploit the algorithm by putting in keywords in the external links as anchor texts. This obviously manipulated the Page Rank and genuine websites lost out business and relevancy to "spammed" websites.

    Possible Algorithmic Changes.

    1. Keyword Differentiation
    Identifying which keywords are likely to be over SEO'd and thus creating a filter for the pages which employ those keywords and putting them through stricter checks for spam.
    How did Google identify those keywords? Simple, keywords which were most paid for in Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

    2. Stemming
    Google introduces a basic level of LSI here, called stemming. Stemming means if you search for "search", it will match up web pages with "searches", "searched", "searching" etc. Stemming tries to match the keyword with other stem words.

    3. PageRank Algorithm
    Websites with lower PageRank had started ranking higher than usual, giving speculation the PR Algorithm has itself changed. In order to tackle, link exchange and reciprocal link programs, inbound links were given less importance than before.

    All of these changes, and all our future algorithmic changes, will always point towards one thing.
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    As we all know, Google™ undertook a major update in its search algorithms which started on the 16th day of November 2003 popularly known as the 'Florida Update', an exclusive 'Google Dance'. The name “Google Dance” has often been used to describe the index update of the Google search engine.

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    Florida update refers to the modifications in Google's ranking algorithm

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    Google released the algorithm name is called Florida. It severely made impact in SEO industry, how the hurricanes demolished Florida. It penalized the spammy activities like keyword stuffing, invisible text and links.

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    On November 16th 2003, Google commenced an update (the Florida update) which had a catastrophic effect for a very large number of websites and, in the process, turned search engine optimization on its head. It is usual to give alphabetical names to Google's updates in the same way that names are given to hurricanes, and this one became known as "Florida".

    In a nutshell, a vast number of pages, many of which had ranked at or near the top of the results for a very long time, simply disappeared from the results altogether. Also, the quality (relevancy) of the results for a great many searches was reduced. In the place of Google's usual relevant results, we are now finding pages listed that are off-topic, or their on-topic connections are tenuous to say the least.

    The theories about the Florida update

    The various search engine related communities on the web went into overdrive to try and figure out what changes Google had made to cause such disastrous effects.

    SEO filter (search engine optimization filter)
    One of the main theories that was put forward and that, at the time of writing, is still believed by many or most people, is that Google had implemented an 'seo filter'. The idea is that, when a search query is made, Google gets a set of pages that match the query and then applies the seo filter to each of them. Any pages that are found to exceed the threshold of 'allowable' seo, are dropped from the results. That's a brief summary of the theory.

    At first I liked this idea because it makes perfect sense for a search engine to do it. But I saw pages that were still ranked in the top 10, and that were very well optimized for the searchterms that they were ranked for. If an seo filter was being applied, they wouldn't have been listed at all. Also, many pages that are not SEOed in any way were dropped from the rankings.

    Searchterm list
    People realized that this seo filter was being applied to some searchterms but not to others, so they decided that Google is maintaining a list of searchterms to apply the filter to. I never liked that idea because it doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. If an seo filter can be applied to some searches on-the-fly, it can be applied to all searches on-the-fly.

    LocalRank
    Another idea that has taken hold is that Google has implemented LocalRank. LocalRank is a method of modifying the rankings based on the interconnectivity between the pages that have been selected to be ranked. I.e. pages in the selected set, that are linked to from other pages in the selected set, are ranked more highly. (Google took out a patent on LocalRank earlier this year). But this idea cannot be right. A brief study of LocalRank shows that the technique does not drop pages from the results, as the Florida algorithm does. It merely rearranges them.

    Commercial list
    It was noticed that many search results were biased towards information pages, and commercial pages were either dropped or moved down the rankings. From this sprang the theory that Google is maintaining a list of "money-words", and modifying the rankings of searches that are done for those words, so that informative pages are displayed at and near the top, rather than commercial ones.

    Google sells advertising, and the ads are placed on the search results pages. Every time a person clicks on one of the ads, Google gets paid by the advertiser. In some markets, the cost per click is very expensive, and the idea of dropping commercial pages from the results, or lowering their rankings, when a money-word is searched on is to force commercial sites into advertising, thereby putting up the cost of each click and allowing Google to make a lot more money.

    Comment on the above theories
    All of the above theories are based on the idea that, when a search query is received, Google compiles a set of results and then modifies them in one way or another before presenting them as the search results. All of the above theories are based on the premise that Google modifies the result set. I am convinced that all the above theories are wrong, as we will see.

    Stemming
    Finally, there is a theory that has nothing to do with how the results set is compiled. Google has implemented stemming, which means that, in a search query, Google matches words of the same word-stem; e.g. drink is the stem of drink, drinks, drinking, drinker and drinkers. So far, this is not a theory - it's a fact, because Google say it on their website. The theory is that, stemming accounts for all the Florida effects. Like the other theories, I will show why this one cannot be right.

    The purpose of the Florida update is clear: Google is trying to eradicate the manipulation of search terms by companies using several techniques for top ranking for the most competitive searches, and is making the software more intelligent and more efficient in its pursuit of improvement. However, on the negative side as a result of the Florida update, the quality and relevancy of the search results depleted temporarily. Google will not sit like that, but in fact, constant tweaking and improvement of the algorithm is going on in order to improve the quality of search.

    2003 November Search algorithm updateGoogle announces the Florida update, which commentators consider game-changing in that it completely destroyed the value of 1990s SEO tactics and ushered in a new era of search engine optimization.[17] - Wikipedia

    There were several theories floating regarding the origins of the name “Florida” for this 2003 update. Some speculated the name came from the series of hurricanes that hit Florida.

    In many ways, the Florida update was like a hurricane, scooping up low-value SEO tactics into its raging cyclone. However, like Boston, Tabke called it Florida because there was an upcoming WMW conference in Orlando.
    Florida was by far the most noticeable and significant update at the time. It was the hardest crack down on unethical SEO tactics, spam sites, and fishy backlinks. It also negatively affected many small businesses website rankings.

    One of the main theories that was put forward and that, at the time of writing, is still believed by many or most people, is that Google had implemented an 'seo filter'. The idea is that, when a search query is made, Google gets a set of pages that match the query and then applies the seo filter to each of them. Any pages that are found to exceed the threshold of 'allowable' seo, are dropped from the results. That's a brief summary of the theory."
    Quoted from WebWorkShop

    Sources:
    What was the effect of Google's "Florida" update on SEO methodology?
    Google - Update Florida
    More on the Google Florida Update
    Big Brands? Google Brand Promotion: New Search Engine Rankings Place Heavy Emphasis on Branding
    How Google Names Its Algorithm Updates & Products
    Florida Google Dance Resources
    Timeline of Google Search
    Google Algorithm Change History
    An Insight Into Google's Florida - SEO Chat
    Google's Florida update - what really happened

    Hope this helps.

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