Google changes its algorithm frequently and it is a very difficult task for marketers to know Google’s pattern of algorithm rollout.
Most of the updates released by Google throughout the year are minor updates that have a lesser impact on search queries and affect lesser sites throughout the world. Google occasionally releases major algorithm updates which have a bigger impact on search queries causing rank decreases of many sites and even penalisation of some sites which goes against Google policy.
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It is surely a critical thing to know the pattern of Google’s algorithm updates and changes, but keeping the track of Google’s algorithm updates history can help you to get perspective on the rank fluctuations and organic website traffic, ultimately you can recheck your SEO strategies and improve search engine optimisation of your website.
Table of Contents
To help you keep track of all minor and major algorithmic updates by Google, we had deep research on this and documented the major and minor SEO updates and changes that were confirmed by Google. However, some of the changes were not confirmed by Google, but some webmasters noticed a sudden drop in their website rankings and some experienced ranking fluctuations which made them sure there were some changes or updates done by Google behind the curtain.
Now, let’s go through all the major and minor Google algorithm updates.
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2023 Google Updates
March Core Update (15th March 2023)
Core updates involve large changes to Google’s algorithm aimed to make the results better. They’re generally focused on E-E-A-T or Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These updates can cause significant shifts in ranking. This update was completed on March 28th.
Product Reviews Update (21st February 2023)
Product review updates prioritize content that demonstrates first-hand knowledge and expertise of the products. This update applies to content in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish. This update was completed on March 7th.
2022 Google Updates
Link Spam Update (14th December 2022)
Google has employed its AI-based spam prevention system, SpamBrain, to detect sites purchasing links and passing outgoing links, for the first time. Consequently, the links’ values are removed, and this global update affects all languages. This Link Spam Update was completed on January 12th, 2023.
Helpful Content Update (14th December 2022)
This helpful content update enhances Google’s classifier to operate across all languages. It focuses on promoting more original, valuable content written by people, for people, rather than content primarily created to attract search engine traffic. It was completed on January 12th, 2023.
Spam Update (19th October 2022)
The spam updates target sites that don’t adhere to the webmaster guidelines, which may seek short-term gains while ignoring best practices. The update was completed on October 21st.
Product Reviews Update (20th September 2022)
The product review update prioritizes content that showcases first-hand knowledge and expertise of products specifically in English language product reviews. It was completed on September 26th.
Core Update (12th September 2022)
Core updates bring significant changes to Google’s algorithm to refine search results, emphasizing Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). These updates may cause notable ranking fluctuations. The update was completed on September 26th.
Helpful Content Update (25th August 2022)
The helpful content update focuses on promoting original, valuable content written by people, for people, rather than content mainly created for search engine traffic. The update will take up to 2 weeks to roll out.
Product Reviews Update (27th July 2022)
The product review update prioritizes content that displays first-hand knowledge and expertise of products specifically in English language product reviews. The update was completed on August 2nd.
Core Update (25th May 2022)
Core updates involve significant changes to Google’s algorithm aimed to refine search results, emphasizing Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). These updates may cause notable ranking fluctuations. The update was completed on June 9th.
Product Reviews Update (23rd March 2022)
The product review update prioritizes content that showcases first-hand knowledge and expertise of products. It was completed on April 6th.
Desktop Page Experience Update (22nd February 2022)
Desktop Page Experience updates focus on highlighting pages that offer excellent user experiences, including mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, intrusive interstitials, and speed metrics referred to as Core Web Vitals. The update was completed on March 3rd.
2021 Google Updates
Product Reviews and Local Search Update (1st December 2021)
On December 21st, product review updates were completed, prioritizing content that showcases first-hand knowledge and expertise of the products.
Core Update (17th November 2021)
On November 30th, core updates were completed, which aim to make the search results better by focusing on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, causing significant shifts in ranking.
Spam Update (3rd November 2021)
Spam updates completed on November 11th target sites that don’t follow webmaster guidelines and may be seeking short-term gains while ignoring best practices.
Page Titles Rewrite (16th August 2021)
Google changed how titles for pages are written in the SERP, where more titles are now rewritten and each page generally has one title now. Previously, titles could change depending on the query.
Link Spam Update (26th July 2021)
An update that targeted link spam update was completed on August 24th, as part of spam updates targeting sites that don’t follow webmaster guidelines.
Core Update (1st July 2021)
On July 12th, core updates were completed, which aim to make the search results better by focusing on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, causing significant shifts in ranking.
Spam Updates Part 1 & 2 (23rd and 28th Jun, 2021)
June 2021 Spam updates that target sites not following webmaster guidelines were completed on the same day.
Mobile Page Experience Update (15th June 2021)
A mobile page experience update completed on September 2nd highlighted pages that offer great user experiences, including mobile friendliness, intrusive interstitials, safe browsing, and speed metrics referred to as Core Web Vitals.
Protecting People From Harassment Update (10th November 2021)
An update was completed to target sites that may engage in predatory practices when it comes to harassing people.
Core Update (2nd June 2021)
On June 12th, core updates were completed, which aim to make the search results better by focusing on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, causing significant shifts in ranking.
Product Reviews Update (8th April 2021)
On April 22nd, product review updates were completed, prioritizing content that showcases first-hand knowledge and expertise of the products.
Passage Ranking (10th Feb 2021)
Passage ranking was improved to help specific passages within pages to rank better for relevant queries. This update was completed on February 15th.
2020 Google Updates
Core Update (3rd December 2020)
On December 16th, Google completed a core update that aimed to make significant improvements to search results by focusing on expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), which can result in significant ranking changes.
Subtopics Ranking (15th November 2020)
Google implemented subtopic ranking to better understand relevant subtopics for some search results and display a broader range of relevant content. The exact date is unknown.
Indexing & Canonicalization Bugs (20th September, 2020)
Two separate bugs occurred simultaneously and caused some instability in search results. The mobile indexing bug was fixed on October 8th, and the canonical issue was resolved on October 14th.
Core Update (4th May 2020)
On May 18th, Google completed a core update focused on improving search results by emphasizing E-A-T, which can cause significant ranking shifts.
Featured Snippet De-duping (22nd January 2020)
Google made an update that ensures that a page is only listed once in SERPs, whereas previously, a page could appear as both a featured snippet and another organic listing.
Core Update (13th January 2020)
Google 2020 Core updates are significant changes to Google’s algorithm that aim to improve search results by emphasizing E-A-T, and can result in substantial ranking changes.
For full updates and changes in Google Search Algorithms, please refer to Google’s Search Status Dashboard.
2016 Google Updates
Google introduced a new algorithm “Possum” algorithm in 2016 to diversify the local results and reduce spam. Updates to mobile-friendly and Penguin algorithms were also seen.
Penguin 4.0 Released (23rd September 2016)
Google announced the release of the Penguin 4.0 update on the 23rd of September, 2016. The main objective of this algorithm was to reduce spam in search engine results. Websites that employed black hats SEO tricks such as keyword stuffing and linking schemes to rank their site in the SERP were found affected or penalised. People did see fluctuation in their rankings but overall, nothing major effects were seen.
Penguin 4.0 had two major changes. The first change is now real-time. So, the Penguin’s data is refreshed in real-time which results in the quick visibility of the changes. The next change is Penguin is now more granular. Rather than affecting the whole website, it devalues the spam adjusting ranking based on spam signals.
“Possum Algorithm Update” (1st September 2016)
Google updated the Possum algorithm with the objective to diversify the local results and prevent spam from ranking. This Possum algorithm was updated on 1st September 2016. The algorithm used addresses and affiliations to filter out the duplicate local results. The possum algorithm update has given more priority to the physical location of the business. So, if a user is searching from a closer location to you then, the chances are more that your business gets a higher ranking.
Mobile Friendly Update (12th May 2016)
Google rolled out the first mobile-friendly algorithm on 21st April 2015 which was to boost the ranking of the sites with mobile-friendly pages. After one year of the mobile update, Google rolled out another mobile-friendly algorithm on 12th May 2016 with the objective to increase the effect of the ranking signal to help users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly. Those sites with mobile-friendly designs did not have any bad effects.
Unnamed Major Update (10th May 2016)
Though Google did not confirm this unnamed major update which took on 10th May 2016, many of the MozCast and other Google Web weather trackers went through a 97-degree spike in algorithm changes. From 6th May to 13th May, there was a continuous fluctuation in Google SERP.
AdWords Change Update (23rd February 2016)
Google performed an Adword change update on 23rd February 2016. The update made a major change to Adwords by removing the ads of the right column entirely and adding 4 ads at the top blocks on many commercial searches. These paid search updates not only lead to zero sidebars in the SERP, but also leads to an increase in the bottom of the SERP ads.
SERP Shake-Up (13th September, 2016)
High fluctuation in rankings, especially in the local search was seen between early to mid-September. Webmasters were pretty sure there were substantial ranking shifts however, there was no confirmation from Google about the update.
Google Core Quality Rank Update (8th January 2016)
Webmasters found lots of changes in their ranking, which they thought was a Penguin update. But, later on, Google denied it and confirmed the update was a core ranking change totally unrelated to Penguin.
2015 Google Updates
2015 was the year of mobile updates, Google decided to give a ranking boost to those sites which had mobile-friendly web pages.
RankBrain Related Algorithm Update (26th October 2015)
Google announced the release of the RankBrain algorithm, which uses artificial intelligence to filter results. Webmasters viewed the unusually high increase in SERP fluctuations in Google desktop for a month. This algorithm helped Google to deliver more intelligent and precisely focused related search results.
Panda 4.2 (17th July 2015)
The spammy links and sites with low quality which were penalised by Google Panda 4.1 in September, 2014 were refreshed by this update as Panda 4.2 was the first refresh after the update in 2014. The update took a whole month to roll out and only 2-3% of queries were impacted by this Panda update.
The Core Quality Update — May 3, 2015
After spikes in Google desktop SERP fluctuation from April end to mid-May, Google confirmed Google core quality update on 13th May, 2015 which was called Google “Phantom 2” algorithm update. This update had a broad impact on “quality signals”.
Google Mobile-Friendly Update (22nd April, 2015)
On April 21st, 2015 Google pre-announced the Google Mobilegeddon Mobile Update to change the mobile results ranking. This update gave a boost to mobile friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results and the sites without mobile friendly design were given less priority. However, the impact of this update was much smaller than expected.
HTTPS Update (17th December, 2015)
Google announced HTTPS update on 17th December, 2015 in order to decrease the risk for users to browse a website over an insecure connection. After this update, HTTPS sites were give more priority and Google started giving ranking boost to those HTTPS URLs in search results.
Hacked Sites Update (5th October, 2015)
In order to improve the quality of search, Google updated hacked sites algorithm which removed all the hacked sites from the search results. 5 % of the queries were expected to be affected by this algorithmic change depending on the language.
Google Snack Pack Update (August, 2015)
Google rolled out an important update in august of 2015. The update gave new design to local by removing the normal 7 packs map that shows up in the local business search results and replaced it by 3 packs map.
Unnamed Update (4th February, 2015)
Although Google didn’t give any confirmation about the update, webmasters tracked fluctuation in Google SERPs. However, Google confirmed that the sudden movement in ranking was not related to Google Penguin or Google Panda.
2014 Google Updates
2014 was the year of the famous Google Panda Algorithm Update which hammered a lot of website rankings. Google also refreshed Pigeon and Penguin Updates. This year, Google made a big decision by removing the Google Authorship functionality.
Google Pigeon Expanded (22nd December, 2014)
Google expanded the Google Pigeon Algoithm update that rolled out on 24th July, 2014. Though the update was confirmed on 22nd December, but, it was rolled out as early as 19th in UK, Canada and Australia. This update brought significant volatility in Maps results in UK, Australia and Canada.
Penguin 3.0 Update (18th October, 2014)
Google released its sixth Penguin refresh update on 18th October, 2014. This update was smaller than expected as it only affected 1 % of US English queries whereas the original Penguin update affected >3% of the queries. Recoveries of sites penalised by previous Penguin updated were reported.
Panda 4.1 (#27) (23rd September, 2014)
Google started a slow roll out of an improved Panda algorithm in early 20th of September. Few signals that helped Panda identify the low quality content more precisely were discovered in this update. This global roll-out affected 3-5% of the queries.
Google Authorship Removed (28th August, 2014)
Google completely removed Authorship functionality from its search results and webmaster tools on 28th August, 2014. This update no longer tracked data from content using rel=author markup.
HTTPS/SSL Update (6th August, 2014)
Google announced that the sites with secure connections will be given higher priority with slight boost in the ranking from 6th August, 2014. Google carried out months of speculations before rolling out this update.
Google Pigeon Update (24th July, 2014)
Google rolled out this local algorithm update with an aim to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results. This algorithm update had an impact on local search results rankings with an increase and decrease in website referrals, leads and businesses of some sites.
Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0 (12th June, 2014)
After less than a month of Payday Loan 2.0 anti-spam update, Google rolled out another major update, Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0 update. Payday Loan 3.0 targeted more spammy queries whereas Payday 2.0 targeted specifically spammy sites.
Panda 4.0 Update (#26) (20th May, 2014)
Panda 4.0 update rolled out with lots of chatter in SEO and webmaster forums causing sharp fluctuations in search result rankings. This major update included both algorithm update and a data refresh update affecting about 7.5% of English language queries.
Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0 Update (18th May, 2014)
Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0 targeted very spammy queries and was totally unrelated to the Panda and Penguin algorithm. This global roll out had an impact on English queries by about 0.2%.
Page Layout Algorithm Update (#3) (6th February, 2014)
Google updated its Page Layout Algorithm, which is also known as “Top Heavy 3 Update” in the beginning of February month. This algorithm update targeted sites with too many ads above the fold in order to make search experience more efficient and quick.
Penguin 3.0 Extended (11th December, 2014)
Google spokesperson reported that the Penguin update is still rolling out and there won’t be a particularly distinct end point to the activity as Penguin is shifting to more continuous updates on 11th Decembver, 2014. It confirmed to continuously optimise the algorithm with lots of minor updates.
Pirate Update #2 (21st October, 2014)
A major drop in rankings of sites with pirated content or those sites which violated copyright laws were spotted. However, this update did not have much effect on sites as it specifically targeted those sites which received DMCA takedown requests.
“In The News” Box Update (October, 2014)
Google replaced the news box in the search result with the box named “In the news”. This update spiked up the news results in SERP resulting substantial traffic changes of major sites.
Private Blog Networks De-Indexed (18th September, 2014)
Google started de-indexing the sites with private blog networks which resulted in to the high drop down of the traffic of various sites.
Photos Removed from Authorship (28th June, 2014)
To create a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices, John Mueller announced they were dropping all the authorship photos from SERPs on 28th June, 2015. Well, it took 3 days to complete the drop.
No Name Update (24th March, 2014)
Webmasters noticed heavy fluctuations in search result rankings which cause lots of chattering in SEO and webmaster forums. But, there was no official confirmation from Google about any update.
Unnamed Update (8th January, 2014)
A minor unofficial update was noticed by the webmasters though Google did not confirm it. Many people and webmasters noticed shifts in the search results.
2013 Google Updates
2013 was the year of new algorithm development and updates. Google developed and rolled out new algorithms such as “Hummingbird”, “Payday” and “Down Crowding” whose main focus were on semantic search and spammy queries.
Google Authorship Update (19th December, 2013)
As promised by Matt Cutts in his keynote speech at Pubcon Las Vegas in October, there was the removal of authorship mark-up from the search results. Over a period of month, 15% of authorship drop-off was noticed which was the reason for the quality to go up.
Hummingbird Update (20th August, 2013)
Google developed and rolled out a new search algorithm, called “Hummingbird” around 21st of August whose main focus was on semantic search. This algorithm was developed especially to provide more personalised results although there was no report of penalties like that of Panda and Penguin.
Knowledge Graph Expansion Update (19th July, 2013)
MozCast 10K Beta System tracked a number of queries which showed that there was an increase of over 50.4% in appearance of knowledge graph.
Panda Recovery Update (18th July, 2013)
This soft Panda update rolled out over 10 day period and was more finely targeted. This update was different than other Panda updates as many webmasters who were struck by Panda update were found claiming recovery.
Multi Week Algorithm Update (28th June, 2013)
A massive signs of ranking volatility was seen which peaked up on 27th of June according to data by MozCast. However, the pattern of this multi week algorithm was unclear and it did not reveal any general insights too.
Panda Dance Update (11th June, 2013)
Matt Cutts announced that they will be rolling out Panda update monthly over 10 of 30 days. Google repeated this cycle for months which many people did not expect.
Payday Loan Update (11th June 2013)
An update was made on 11th of June, 2013 to target “spammy queries” such as payday loan, pornographic and other spammed queries. This global update had roughly 0.3% impact of the US queries whereas it went higher than 4% for Turkish queries where web spam is typically higher.
Penguin 2.0 Update (#4) (22nd May, 2013)
Google released the fourth iteration of Google’s spam-fighting “Penguin Update”. This update was an update to the algorithm, not just the data refresh which affected 2.3% of the English queries.
Down Crowding Update (21st May, 2013)
In earlier days, there were problems such as one domain taking too many spots on the page. So, to solve this issue Google released down crowding update. The main goal of this update was to maintain a balance between providing diverse results and at the same time return the most authoritative search results for the query.
Phantom Update (9th May, 2013)
There was a huge uptick in chatter around major ranking and search result fluctuation in the period around 9th May. Although, it was confirmed that the update was “Phantom Update” but, the exact nature of the update was unknown.
No Name Update (17th December, 2013)
Although there was no confirmation of the update, a highest level of SERP flux was recorded since Penguin 2.0 on 17th of December. The fluctuation in results was followed for a week.
Unnamed Update (14th November, 2013)
A large spike in chatter in the online discussion forums and social Medias were seen with the unusual activity tracked by lots of SERP tracking tools. However, there was no confirmation of this update by Google.
Penguin 2.1 (#5) Update (4th October, 2013)
Penguin 2.1, a new version of Penguin affected roughly 1% of searches to the noticeable degree. This was just an update to Penguin update as there was no major changes seen.
In-depth Article Update (6th August, 2013)
Google introduced new search results to help those users who are searching for in-depth articles. In-depth articles are like news results or local packs which are rich search elements and sits in the left-hand column.
No Name Update (26th July 2013)
Though there was no official confirmation of the update, but many SERP tracking tools showed the signs.
Panda Update 25 (14th March, 2013)
Panda Update 25 was the last manual push of Google’s Panda update as Matt Cutts pre-announced a Panda update at SMX West and told this update would be the last update before they integrate Panda into the Google’s algorithm.
Panda Update 24 (22nd January 2013)
Google announced new Panda refresh update on 22nd January 2013. This update had a noticeable impact on English queries by 1.2%.
2012 Google Updates
Google rolled out a number of updates in 2012. Many sites were penalised after the roll out of “Pirate Penalty” update whose main focus was to penalise those sites with too many copy right notices.
Panda #23 Update (21st December 2012)
Google rolled another Panda update right before the Christmas holiday impacting 1.3% of the search queries. Google said they will try to avoid updates during the holidays.
Page Layout Update #2 (9th October, 2012)
Page Layout Update, also known as “Top Heavy 2 Update” which targeted too pages with too many ads above the fold. Less than 0.7 % of English queries were affected by this update.
August/September 65 Changes (4th October, 2012)
Google rolled out 65 updates that happened in August/September. Some of the changes included knowledge graph, entity predictions, synonyms search features, a Panda refresh and many more.
Exact Match Domain (EMD) Update (27th September, 2012)
Exact Match Domain update changed the way Google handled exact domains by reducing lower quality domain matches. This update had an impact less than 0.6% of search queries.
Panda #20 Update (27th September 2012)
Google rolled out another major Panda update which had an impact of 2.4% on English search queries.
7-Result SERPs (14th August, 2012)
With the release of “7-Result SERPs”, Google started displaying only 7 results from their traditional 10 listings per page.
June/July 86 Google Updates (10th August, 2012)
Google released an official blog post on “June/July High Quality Highlights” which included 86 changes. Some of the changes included resource caching for mobile, images universal rankings, freshness and many more.
DMCA/Pirate Penalty Update (10th August, 2012)
Google rolled out “DMCA”, also known as “Pirate Penalty” update which will start penalising the sites with number of copyright removal notices. The main aim of this update was to help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.
Link Warnings Update (19th July, 2012)
Google sent a number of unnatural link warnings to webmasters in March/April saying they should act on it. But, on 20th June of 2012, Google had another announcement telling publishers to ignore the previous unnatural link warnings.
May 39 Google Updates (7th June, 2012)
Google posted a blog highlighting 39 changes they made in the month of May. It included changes like unified soccer feature, improvements to NBA search feature, improvements to news rankings, inorganic backlinks signals application and many more.
Penguin 1.1 (#2) Update (25th May, 2012)
Google rolled out Penguin 1.1, an update to the Penguin update. This was the first update to the Penguin update launched on April 24th. The update had an impact of less than 0.1% of English searches.
Knowledge Graph Update (16th May, 2012)
Google introduced Knowledge graph to discover new information quickly and easily. This SERP-integrated display provided supplement object about certain people, places and things that Google knows about.
April 52 Google Updates (4th May, 2012)
Google posted a blog with 52 minor updates including categorise paginated documents, more language relevant navigational results, anchors bug fix, domain diversity, improvement on local navigational searches, better query interpretation and many more.
Penguin Update (24th April, 2012)
This was another step by Google to reward high quality sites and penalise the sites with the black hat web spam techniques such as keyword stuffing, link schemes, link farming and so on.
Parked Domain Bug (16th April, 2012)
Though it was not intentional an intentional algorithm change, Google mistaken some domains as parked domain and caused the drop in ranking.
March 50-Pack Update (3rd April, 2012)
Another batch of updates which includes Panda 3.4, improvements to handling of symbols for indexing, better scoring, site links data refresh, UI refresh, improvements to results for navigational queries, high quality sites algorithm data update, better local results and so on.
February 40-Pack Update (27th February, 2012)
Google published a second set of search quality highlights on their Inside Search blog with 40 new updates which offered more coverage for related searches, less duplication, more locally relevant predictions, and refreshed per-URL country information and so on.
Venice (27th February, 2012)
Google’s Venice update localised organic results on broad search queries. After this update, when a searcher typed in queries without any geo-modifier, local sites started showing up. This was surely great news for local SEOs and usability.
January 17-Pack Update (3rd February 2012)
Another round of search quality highlights were released by Google which included faster auto-complete, fresher results, better spelling, high-quality sites algorithm improvements, cross-language refinements, image search quality and so on.
Page layout Update (19th January, 2012)
Page layout update also known has “Top Heavy #1 Update” penalised the sites with too much of ad-space above the “fold”. This update was made with an effort to help searchers find more high-quality websites in the search results.
Search + Your World Update (10th January, 2012)
Google introduced new “Search Plus Your World” feature, which turned Google+ into an essential social network for any search marketer by providing personal results, profiles in search and people and pages.
January 30-Pack Update (5th January, 2012)
Google performed a series of updates related to relevancy, image search, soft 404 detection, accuracy, more rich snippets, spam detection, safer searching, faster mobile browsing and so on.
Knowledge Graph Expansion (4th December 2012)
Knowledge graph was now available in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and Italian.
Panda #22 Update (21st November 2012)
Another minor Panda refresh which affected 0.8% of the search queries.
Panda #21 Update (5th November 2012)
Another Panda Update affecting 1.1% of US queries in English, whereas it affected about 0.4% of queries world wide.
Penguin #3 Update (5th October 2012)
Another minor refresh to Penguin update which was not as bad as expected.
Panda3.9.2 (#19) Update (18th September, 2012)
Google rolled out another minor Panda update affecting less than 0.7% of the total search queries.
Panda 3.9.1 (#18) Update (20th August 2012)
Google confirmed another Panda refresh affecting less than 1 % of the total search queries.
Panda 3.9 (#17) Update (24th July 2012)
Another Panda refresh affecting 1 % of the total search queries.
Panda 3.8 (#16) Update (25th June 2012)
Panda 3.8 was another minor update to Panda algorithm. It had an impact of 1 % of the total search queries.
Panda 3.7 (#15) Update (8th June 2012)
Google rolled out Panda 3.7 update affecting less than 1% of search queries.
Panda 3.6 (#14) Update (27th April, 2012)
Google confirmed another Panda data refresh. It was a limited update and did not affect that many sites.
Panda 3.5 (#13) Update (19th April, 2012)
Google quietly rolled out Panda 3.5 update which didn’t have much impact. The main target of this update was low-quality content.
Panda 3.4 (#12) Update (23rd March, 2012)
Another Panda update which targeted low-quality websites. Panda 3.4 update had an impact of 1.6% of the search results.
Search Quality Video (12th March 2012)
Google published a video into a search quality meeting for those interested in the algorithm. The video included a context about the Google’s process and their priorities. However, this was not an algorithm change.
Panda 3.3 (#11) Update (27th February 2012)
Another Panda refresh, which refreshed the data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.
Panda 3.2 (#10) Update (18th January 2012)
Google Confirmed another minor Panda update where some sites that were hit by Panda regained their traffic levels.
2011 Google Updates
A number of 10 pack updates were rolled out in 2011. The algorithm updates of 2011 had an impact of 1% to 40% of search queries.
December 10-Pack (1st December 2011)
Google rolled out a second round up of 10 updates including related query results refinements, more comprehensive indexing, parked domain, auto complete predictions, original content, and fresher and more complete blog search results and so on.
10-Pack of Updates (14th November, 2011)
Google announced 10 smaller changes that they made which included cross-language information retrieval, snippets with more page content and less header/menu content, fresh search results, rich snippets and so on.
Freshness Update (3rd November 2011)
Google rolled out “Freshness” update affecting 35% of the total search queries. This algorithm was designed to give the most up-to-date search results.
Query Encryption (18th October 2011)
In order to make search more secure, Google announced they would be encrypting search queries. Google enhanced their default search experience for their signed in users.
Pagination Elements (15th September 2011)
Google introduced the rel =“ next” and rel=”prev” link attributes to indicate the relationship between the component URLs in a paginated series. This update was a great help to the crawl and duplication problems created by pagination.
Expanded Sitelinks (16th August 2011)
Google expanded the display of Sitelinks, creating direct access to more of the site. The number of site links per query was increased from 8 to 12.
Panda 2.4 (#6) (12th August 2011)
Google rolled out Panda 2.4 internationally to most languages except for Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The main focus of this update was to return high-quality sites to users. This change in algorithm impacted 6-9% of search queries for most languages.
Google+ (28th June, 2011)
Google launched Google+, a serious competitor to Facebook after a number of social media failures on 28th June, 2011. It was an attempt to make Google better by including user, user’s relationship and their interests.
Schema.org (2nd June. 2011)
Google, Bing and Yahoo united together to make search listings even richer through the structures data, Schema. With the sole use of Meta data, these three search engines enhanced the search results display.
Panda 2.0 (#2) (11th April, 2011)
Google rolled out Panda 2.0 globally to all English-language Google users and also incorporated new user feedback signals. This user feedback signals helped people to find search results.
The +1 Button (30th March 2011)
Google introduced +1 button on 30th March 2011 which was an easy way for Google users to share their content recommendation right from the search result pages.
Panda/Farmer (23rd February 2011)
Google launched a big update, the first of its kind. Google’s new update, “Panda” mainly targeted link farms and low-quality content. This update had an impact of 12% of search results.
Attribution Update (28th January 2011)
Google rolled out an algorithm change to drive spam levels even lower, to stop those scrapers form stealing content from others. This update affected 2% of the search queries.
Overstock.com Penalty (January 2011)
Google penalised OverStock for implementing bad SEO practices on their site. Since then, Google started calling out sites publicly for their SEO practices.
Panda 3.1 (#9) (18th November 2011)
It was another minor update to Google Panda Update. This update impacted less than 1% of searches.
Panda “Flux” (#8) (5th October 2011)
Matt Cutts confirmed Panda “Flux” Update which had an impact of 2% of total search queries. Though Google confirmed this “Flux” update, but, they didn’t provide any detail information about this update.
Panda 2.5 (#7) (28th September 2011)
Google released another Panda update as a part of a commitment to returning high-quality sites to Google users.
Panda 2.3 (#5) (23rd July 2011)
It was another small update to Google Panda filter which incorporated some new signals that helped to differentiate between the higher and lower quality sites. After this minor update, many sites ranked higher.
Panda 2.2 (#4) — June 21, 2011
Panda 2.2 was an update to the Panda filter. Some of the webmasters found their sites ranking better with this Panda filter breaking out, whereas others were hit for the first time.
Panda 2.1 (#3) (9th May 2011)
Panda 2.1 was a minor update to Google Panda Update. This update impacted fewer rankings than in the past updates.
2010 Google Updates
Google rolled out four major updates along with some minor updates in 2010. The major updates were Google Instant, Caffeine, Mayday and Google places.
Google Instant (8th September 2010)
Google Instant was an expansion to Google Suggest, which helped people get results as they type their queries. This search before type update came with features such as dynamic results, ability to predict and scroll to search.
Caffeine Update (8th June, 2010)
Google rolled out a new web indexing system named “Caffeine” which provided 50% fresher results for web searches than the old index system. It created the largest collection of web content that Google has ever offered. Now, finding links to relevant content be it a news story or a forum post, much easier and sooner.
Mayday Update (1st May 2010)
The release of Google’s Mayday algorithm had a significant impact on the long tail traffic. Many sites with large-scale thin content were found hit hardly, foreshadowing the Panda update.
Google Places (20th April 2010)
Google turned Local Business Center to Google Places with this update. Along with this change, Google added few features like services areas, business photo shoots, customised QR code, favourite places and a simple new way to advertise.
Social Signals Use (December 2010)
Google and Bing announced that they are using social signals to influence rankings. They use social data from Facebook and Twitter to ranking the site.
Negative Reviews (December 2010)
Google updated its algorithm to fix the issue of negative reviews. After the breaking out of the story about an eCommerce site using negative reviews to ranking in Google, Google made this rare move.
Instant Visual (November 2010)
Google introduced a magnifying glass icon on search results which allowed the user to quickly view a preview of landing pages directly from SERPs. However, this did not last too long.
Brand Update (August 2010)
Google allowed the same domain to appear multiple times on SERP. This was not an algorithm change. However, Google confirmed it to be a simple ranking change.
2009 Google Updates
Google had a huge infrastructure change in 2009 with the introduction of “Real Time Search”.
Real Time Search (7th December 2009)
With the introduction of “Real Time Search”, real time became the real deal. This feature brought search results to life with a dynamic stream of real-time, mobile and social search.
Google Caffeine (10th August 2009)
Caffeine was Google’s huge infrastructure change, a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search. This change was intended to push the envelope on size, speed indexing, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.
Vince Update (20th February, 2009)
Google released a major update on 20th February, 2009 which brought a significant change in how Google returned results for a certain set of keywords. Many webmasters believed the focus of this major update on trust, authority and reputation was all to support big brands.
Rel-canonical Tag (12th February 2009)
Yahoo, Google and Microsoft announced their support to Canonical Tag. This change allowed people to publicly specify the preferred version of an Url.
2008 Google Updates
Google added a search box feature in 2008. There were no minor updates noticed.
Google Suggest (25th August 2007)
After testing literally for years, Google finally added this major search box feature. After this change, related searches automatically appeared below where you start typing in the search box.
Dewey Update (2nd April, 2008)
There was a huge discussion in the search community regarding the big changes in the Google search results, but the specifics were unclear. However, Google confirmed this was all because of “Dewey Update”, it had been a while since Google named a update. This was also the first major update widely noticed by webmasters in a while.
2007 Google Updates
Universal Search (16th May, 2007)
This was not an algorithmic update by Google, rather integration to traditional search results. With universal search update, Google launched the new architecture by breaking down the traditionally separated various search properties and integrated the vast amounts of information from images, maps, books, videos and news.
Buffy Update (17th June 2007)
Though it was not clear what happened with this update, Matt Cutts explained that this update was simply a collection of smaller changes. The name “Buffy” was given to this update in honour of Vanessa Fox who was leaving Google.
2006 Google Updates
There were no algorithm updates in this year. Though there was quite a fuss in SEO community, Google didn’t confirm any updates or refresh.
Big Daddy Update (1st November 2005)
“Big Daddy Update” was technically intended to update infrastructure. This update changed the way Google handled URL canonicalization, redirects and other many technical issues. This update was announced on 1st of November, but it rolled out for few months, wrapping up in the beginning week of March month.
Jagger Update (19th October 2005)
Jagger was another significant update by Google which targeted low-quality links including link farms, reciprocal links and paid links.
Google Local and Maps Merge (6th October 2005)
Google made it easier for searchers by merging Google local and maps together. Searchers were able to find both local search and mapping information together on the same search results page by just using Google Maps.
Google Sitemaps (2nd June, 2005)
A new program was introduced by Google, “Google Sitemaps” which allowed webmasters and site owners to create an XML files containing all their URLs that they want Google to crawl and add them in web index. However, this update was proved to be useful which gave a good influence to SEO.
Bourbon Update (2nd May 2005)
Google came up with an update “Bourbon” to change the algorithm in terms of how to duplicate and non-canonical (www vs. non-www) URLs are handled. This update affected 3.5% of the entire queries.
Nofollow Update (18th January 2005)
Google added a small yet very important feature “the Nofollow Attribute” which worked against the comment spam. The “Nofollow Update” was not a traditional algorithm change but had a significant impact since it combated spam and controlled outbound link quality.
Gilligan Update (8th September 2005)
Webmasters sensed changes over the web; however, Google didn’t confirm any update. Rather they claimed it was just a refresh.
Personalised Search (28th June 2005)
With the release of personalised search, users were able to use search history that they’ve been building to get the better search results. Google was able to make the results more personal and more accurate with this update.
Allegra Update (2nd February 2005)
On 2nd February of 2005, many webmasters went through ranking changes. But, the exact specifics of this update were unclear. Some of the people thought this update affected the “Sandbox” whereas the rest thought the LSI has been changed.
2004 Google Updates
Two popular algorithm updates “Brandy” and “Austin” were rolled out in the year 2004 which focused in LSI, link neighbourhood and so on.
Brandy Update (17th February 2004)
Lots of changes were encountered because of the “Brandy Update” released by Google. The changes seen were massive index expansion, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), the concept of link neighbourhood and increased attention to anchor text relevance.
Austin Update (23rd January 2004)
Google came up with another update “Austin Update” to fill the hole or missing point left by “Florida Update” released on 16th November of 2003. Google was found continuing the crackdown on tricky on-page tricks; Google included invisible text and Meta-tag stuffing.
2003 Google Updates
2003 was the year of only major updates.
Florida Update (16th November 2003)
Florida is probably the larger and aggressive updates which completely shake out SEO world. During this update, many sites that applied low-value SEO tactics like keyword stuffing and so on lost their site ranking. This update made many business owners unhappy.
Fritz Update (1st July 2003)
Google’s Fritz update ended the monthly “Google Dance”, where the index was updated every month. Instead, they came with more accurate information by the indexing every day. This every day small changes were referred as “ever flux”.
Esmerelda Update (15th June 2003)
Esmerelda update had some huge structure changes regarding Google update. This update was probably the last regular update of Google.
Dominic Update (14th May 2003)
Though the exact nature of this update was not cleared, many sites experienced bounces. Google bots were found crawling through the web and bouncing the sites right and left. This update also changed the way Google counted and reported back links.
Cassandre Update (12th April 2003)
Cassandre was yet another major update released by Google which mainly focused on basic link issues. Other main focuses of this update were massive linking from co-domains, hidden text and hidden links. Google has allowed banned sites to submit a reconsideration request in this update. This happened for the first time.
Boston Update (7th March 2003)
Google released its first named update in March month of 2003. This was the first named major update. This update had a great impact on SERPs as with this update Google improved their algorithm further.
Supplemental Index (September 2003)
After Google released Fritz update, it released another update to index more documents, which would help them to do so without having to hurt the performance.
2002 Google Updates
Google’s First Documented Update (26th September 2002)
Google released its first documented update in September month of 2002. All the SEO arguments and Google dance started from this update. This is the first major update performed by Google since its establishment.
2000 Google Updates
Google Toolbar (December 2000)
Google launched toolbar for all browsers as well as toolbar page rank (TBPR) and from this, all the SEO arguments started.
Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin on September 4, 1998. Though the domain google.com was already registered on 15th September 1997, only after a year they filed for Incorporation on September 4 of 1998. Since then the journey of Google officially began.
Did we miss any updates in our blog post? Have you experienced Google penalty before? If yes, how did you recover your site from it? Please share with us in the comment box below.