An update of the ranking algorithms of the Google search engine, which took place on January 25, 2004, was known as “Austin”.
It is a successor to the Florida update, with which Google primarily wanted to devalue spam sites or remove them from the index. Up to now, these had spread strongly in the search results.
With both updates, Google pursued the goal of presenting more relevant SERPs to users and increasing confidence in the Adwords ads. Austin and Florida join many other algorithm updates that Google wants to continuously improve search results with.
Background of Austin Update
In 2003, Google launched Florida update, mainly for some black hat cheating techniques that are now outdated, such as keyword stuffing, etc.
These were all very popular SEO methods at the time. The rankings of many websites have dropped drastically, and there are furious surprises.
Then, in January 2004, Florida did a cleanup of some ancient black hat technologies, and some of the missing places were upgraded by Austin to continue execution.
Austin penalizes several single-page optimization techniques, like hidden text, Meta tag stacking, and so on. Some suspect that Google is deploying its “Hilltop” algorithm, which places a greater emphasis on content relevancy.
Measure Against Spam Sites and Over-Optimization
The Austin update was directed against websites that appeared high in the ranking due to over-optimized on-page measures in the area of meta tags, keyword density and positioning, internal links, and relevance of the content as well as backlinks that were bought in bulk or generated by link farms.
After the update, the topic relevance of the backlink pages was given much greater consideration. Both spam sites and affiliate sites disappeared from the index on a large scale after the update was rolled out.
Effects on Unsuspicious Websites
Several websites were wrongly hit by the Austin update. Although no spam was used, they appeared much worse in the ranking or were completely removed from the index.
On the other hand, sites with many backlinks such as eBay suddenly ranked at the top of the SERPs, which irritated users.
After a wave of protest, Google pushed the Brandy Update a few weeks later, which can be seen as a kind of bug fix or extension for the Austin update.
Many problems were fixed afterward and the excitement in the webmaster community subsided again.