Home Search Engine Optimization Google Algorithm Changes | Google Search Engine

Google Algorithm Changes | Google Search Engine

Recent Google Updates

  • Google August 2020 Glitch,August 10, 2020
  • Google confirmed this was an indexing glitch, a bug from their side that was resolved in the next couple of days.
  • Google May 2020 Core UpdateMay 4, 2020
  • Significant broad changes were made to the search algorithms and systems, to improve search results by delivering relevant and authoritative content to searchers. Google confirmed this core update.
  • Google January 2020 Core UpdateJanuary 14, 2020
  • A broad core algorithm update confirmed by Google is now rolling.
  • Google BERT Update WorldwideDecember 9, 2019
  • BERT, the new way for Google Search to better understand language that initially launched in October for US English, is now rolling out to over 70 languages worldwide.
  • Google BERT UpdateOctober 25, 2019
  • Google calls this update the “biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of search.” This algorithm update is improving the way Google understands queries, to bring it closer to the way humans understand them.
  • The September 2019 Core UpdateSeptember 24, 2019
  • Google announced that a new broad core algorithm update is rolling out. This is a pre-announced update, part of those that are released several times per year.
  • The June 2019 Core UpdateJune 3, 2019
  • Google announced that a core update is rolling out. This is one of the first pre-announced updates and, according to Google officials, this update is part of the several broad core algorithm updates that are released several times per year.
  • Confirmed Broad Core UpdateMarch 12, 2019
  • Google confirmed that a big algorithm update was released, designed to improve the overall results.
  • Significant Core Quality UpdateOctober 31,
  • 2018Many websites affected by the August update saw further drops after this date. This is probably an update having to do with expertise, authority, and trust, the factors that Google uses to measure how much trust it should place in a brand or website.
  • Google Birthday UpdateSeptember 27, 2018
  • Google confirmed that a small update was done on this date. It is called the Birthday Update as Google’s birthday is on September 27th.
  • Confirmed Broad Core UpdateAugust 1, 2018
  • Google confirmed that a broad core algorithm update was released, designed to improve the overall results.
  • Google Speed UpdateJuly 9, 2018
  • Google confirmed that starting this date The Speed Update is rolling out for all users. From now on, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
  • Confirmed Google Algorithm UpdateApril 17, 2018
  • Google rolled out another broad core algorithm related to content relevance.
  • Confirmed Major Core UpdateMarch 9, 2018
  • The update was confirmed by Google who also recommended webmasters to remain focused on building great content.
  • Snippet Length IncreaseNovember 30, 2017
  • Google increased the length of search snippets. The new Meta Description limit is now 300 characters (previously was 155).
  • Unnamed UpdateNovember 15, 2017
  • Algorithm trackers have detected high fluctuations around this date. Google did not confirm this update.
  • Featured Snippet DropOctober 27, 2017
  • Around this date there were registered substantial drops in featured snippets; at the same time, Google added many panels for broad terms and objects.
  • Unnamed UpdateSeptember 27, 2017
  • Algorithm Trackers detected increased fluctuations around this date. Google did not confirm this update.
  • Unamed UpdateJune 24, 2017
  • A prolonged series of increased rank fluctuations starting with June 24. The SEO industry reported lots of ranking shifts as the algorithm continued to update for over a week.
  • Fred UpdateMarch 8, 2017
  • Google rolled out what appeared to be a major update, with reports of widespread impacts across the SEO community. Yet, this was not an official confirmation.
  • Unnamed Major UpdateFebruary 1, 2017
  • There was a period of heavy algorithm flux starting around February 1st and peaking around February 6th. It is unclear whether this was multiple algorithm updates or a single update.
  • Intrusive Interstitial PenaltyJanuary 10, 2017
  • Google started rolling out a penalty to punish aggressive interstitials and pop-ups that might damage the mobile user experience.
  • Penguin 4.0 (Real-time)September 23, 2016
  • The Penguin Update is now part of Google’s core algorithm and will be able to devalue spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting the ranking of the whole site.
  • Possum UpdateSeptember 1, 2016
  • This particular update seems to have only impacted ranking in the 3-pack and Local Finder.
  • Mobile-friendly 2May 12, 2016
  • Google rolled out another ranking signal boost to benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search.
  • Unnamed Major UpdateMay 10, 2016
  • Google would not confirm this update but the entire professional industry saw huge ranking shakeups and no explanation is currently available.
  • Unnamed UpdateJanuary 8, 2016
  • Multiple tracking tools reported large rankings movement, which Google later confirmed as a “core algo update”. Google officially said that this was not a Penguin update.
  • RankBrainOctober 26, 2015
  • Google made a major announcement, revealing that machine learning had been a part of the algorithm for months, contributing to the 3rd most influential ranking factor.
  • Panda 4.2July 17, 2015
  • Google announced what was most likely a Panda data refresh, saying that it could take months to fully roll out. The immediate impact was unclear, and there were no clear signs of a major algorithm update.
  • The Quality UpdateMay 3, 2015
  • After many reports of large-scale ranking changes, originally dubbed “Phantom 2”, Google acknowledged a core algorithm change impacting “quality signals”.
  • MobilegeddonApril 22, 2015
  • Google pre-announced an algorithm update, telling us that mobile rankings would differ for mobile-friendly sites starting on April 21st.
  • Pigeon Update (UK, CA, AU)December 22, 2014
  • Google’s major local algorithm update, dubbed “Pigeon”, expands to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
  • Penguin EverfluxDecember 10, 2014
  • A Google representative said that Penguin had shifted to continuous updates, moving away from infrequent, major updates.
  • Pirate 2.0October 21, 2014
  • More than two years after the original DMCA/”Pirate” update, Google launched another update to combat software and digital media piracy. This update was highly targeted, causing dramatic drops in ranking to a relatively small group of sites.
  • Penguin 3.0October 17, 2014
  • More than a year after the previous Penguin update (2.1), Google launched a Penguin refresh. This update appeared to be smaller than expected (<1% of US/English queries affected) and was probably data-only (not a new Penguin algorithm). The timing of the update was unclear, especially internationally, and Google claimed it was spread out over “weeks”.
  • “In The News” BoxOctober 1, 2014
  • Google made what looked like a display change to News-box results, but later announced that they had expanded news links to a much larger set of potential sites. The presence of news results in SERPs also spiked, and major news sites reported substantial traffic changes.
  • Panda 4.1 (#27)September 23, 2014
  • Google announced a significant Panda update, which included an algorithmic component. They estimated the impact at 3-5% of queries affected. Given the “slow rollout,” the exact timing was unclear.
  • Authorship RemovedAugust 28, 2014
  • Following up on the June 28th drop of authorship photos, Google announced that they would be cowmpletely removing authorship markup (and would no longer process it). By the next morning, authorship bylines had disappeared from all SERPs.
  • HTTPS/SSL UpdateAugust 6, 2014
  • After months of speculation, Google announced that they would be giving preference to secure sites, and that adding encryption would provide a “lightweight” rankings boost. They stressed that this boost would start out small, but implied it might increase if the changed proved to be positive.
  • PigeonJuly 24, 2014
  • Google shook the local SEO world with an update that dramatically altered some local results and modified how they handle and interpret location cues. Google claimed that Pigeon created closer ties between the local algorithm and core algorithm(s).
  • Payday Loan 3.0June 12, 2014
  • Less than a month after the Payday Loan 2.0 anti-spam update, Google launched another major iteration. Official statements suggested that 2.0 targeted specific sites, while 3.0 targeted spammy queries.
  • Panda 4.0 (#26)May 19, 2014
  • Google confirmed a major Panda update that likely included both an algorithm update and a data refresh. Officially, about 7.5% of English-language queries were affected. While Matt Cutts said it began rolling out on 5/20, our data strongly suggests it started earlier.
  • Payday Loan 2.0May 16, 2014
  • Just prior to Panda 4.0, Google updated it’s “payday loan” algorithm, which targets especially spammy queries. The exact date of the roll-out was unclear (Google said “this past weekend” on 5/20), and the back-to-back updates made the details difficult to sort out.
  • Page Layout #3February 6, 2014
  • Google “refreshed” their page layout algorithm, also known as “top heavy”. Originally launched in January 2012, the page layout algorithm penalizes sites with too many ads above the fold.
  • Penguin 2.1 (#5)October 4, 2013
  • After a 4-1/2 month gap, Google launched another Penguin update. Given the 2.1 designation, this was probably a data update (primarily) and not a major change to the Penguin algorithm. The overall impact seemed to be moderate, although some webmasters reported being hit hard.
  • HummingbirdAugust 20, 2013
  • Announced on September 26th, Google suggested that the “Hummingbird” update rolled out about a month earlier.
  • Panda RecoveryJuly 18, 2013
  • Google confirmed a Panda update, but it was unclear whether this was one of the 10-day rolling updates or something new. The implication was that this was algorithmic and may have “softened” some previous Panda penalties.
  • “Payday Loan” UpdateJune 11, 2013
  • Google announced a targeted algorithm update to take on niches with notoriously spammy results, specifically mentioning payday loans and porn. The update was announced on June 11th, but Matt Cutts suggested it would roll out over a 1-2 month period.
  • Penguin 2.0 (#4)May 22, 2013
  • The 4th Penguin update (dubbed “2.0” by Google) arrived with only moderate impact. The exact nature of the changes were unclear, but some evidence suggested that Penguin 2.0 was more finely targeted to the page level.
  • Domain CrowdingMay 21, 2013
  • Google released an update to control domain crowding/diversity deep in the SERPs (pages 2+). The timing was unclear, but it seemed to roll out just prior to Penguin 2.0 in the US and possibly the same day internationally.
  • “Phantom”May 9, 2013
  • In the period around May 9th, there were many reports of an algorithm update. The exact nature of this update was unknown, but many sites reported significant traffic loss.
  • Panda #25March 14, 2013
  • Matt Cutts pre-announced a Panda update at SMX West, and suggested it would be the last update before Panda was integrated into the core algorithm.
  • Panda #24January 22, 2013
  • Google announced its first official update of 2013, claiming 1.2% of queries affected. This did not seem related to talk of an update around 1/17-18 (which Google did not confirm).
  • Panda #23December 21, 2012
  • Right before the Christmas holiday, Google rolled out another Panda update. They officially called it a “refresh”, impacting 1.3% of English queries. This was a slightly higher impact than Pandas #21 and #22.
  • Knowledge Graph ExpansionDecember 4, 2012
  • Google added Knowledge Graph functionality to non-English queries, including Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and Italian. This update was “more than just translation” and added enhanced KG capabilities.
  • Panda #22November 21, 2012
  • After some mixed signals, Google confirmed the 22nd Panda update, which appears to have been data-only. This came on the heels of a larger, but unnamed update around November 19th.
  • Panda #21November 5, 2012
  • Google rolled out their 21st Panda update, roughly 5-1/2 weeks after Panda #20. This update was reported to be smaller, officially impacting 1.1% of English queries.
  • Page Layout #2October 9, 2012
  • Google announced an update to its original page layout algorithm change back in January, which targeted pages with too many ads above the fold. It’s unclear whether this was an algorithm change or a Panda-style data refresh.
  • Penguin #3October 5, 2012
  • After suggesting the next Penguin update would be major, Google released a minor Penguin data update, impacting “0.3% of queries”. Penguin update numbering was rebooted, similar to Panda – this was the 3rd Penguin release.
  • August/September 65-PackOctober 4, 2012
  • Google published their monthly (bi-monthly?) list of search highlights. The 65 updates for August and September included 7-result SERPs, Knowledge Graph expansion, updates to how “page quality” is calculated, and changes to how local results are determined.
  • Panda #20September 27, 2012
  • Overlapping the EMD update, a fairly major Panda update (algo + data) rolled out, officially affecting 2.4% of queries. As the 3.X series was getting odd, industry sources opted to start naming Panda updates in order (this was the 20th).
  • Panda 3.9.2 (#19)September 18, 2012
  • Google rolled out another Panda refresh, which appears to have been data-only. Ranking flux was moderate but not on par with a large-scale algorithm update.
  • Panda 3.9.1 (#18)August 20, 2012
  • Google rolled out yet another Panda data update, but the impact seemed to be fairly small. Since the Panda 3.0 series ran out of numbers at 3.9, the new update was dubbed 3.9.1.
  • 7-Result SERPsAugust 14, 2012
  • Google made a significant change to the Top 10, limiting it to 7 results for many queries. Our research showed that this change rolled out over a couple of days, finally impacting about 18% of the keywords we tracked.
  • June/July 86-PackAugust 10, 2012
  • After a summer hiatus, the June and July Search Quality Highlights were rolled out in one mega-post. Major updates included Panda data and algorithm refreshes, an improved rank-ordering function (?), a ranking boost for “trusted sources”, and changes to site clustering.
  • DMCA Penalty (“Pirate”)August 10, 2012
  • Google announced that they would start penalizing sites with repeat copyright violations, probably via DMCA take-down requests. Timing was stated as “starting next week” (8/13?).
  • Panda 3.9 (#17)July 24, 2012
  • A month after Panda 3.8, Google rolled out a new Panda update. Rankings fluctuated for 5-6 days, although no single day was high enough to stand out. Google claimed ~1% of queries were impacted.
  • Link WarningsJuly 19, 2012
  • In a repeat of March/April, Google sent out a large number of unnatural link warnings via Google Webmaster Tools. In a complete turn-around, they then announced that these new warnings may not actually represent a serious problem.
  • Panda 3.8 (#16)June 25, 2012
  • Google rolled out another Panda data refresh, but this appeared to be data only (no algorithm changes) and had a much smaller impact than Panda 3.7.
  • Panda 3.7 (#15)June 8, 2012
  • Google rolled out yet another Panda data update, claiming that less than 1% of queries were affect. Ranking fluctuation data suggested that the impact was substantially higher than previous Panda updates (3.5, 3.6).
  • May 39-PackJune 7, 2012
  • Google released their monthly Search Highlights, with 39 updates in May. Major changes included Penguin improvements, better link-scheme detection, changes to title/snippet rewriting, and updates to Google News.
  • Penguin 1.1 (#2)May 25, 2012
  • Google rolled out its first targeted data update after the “Penguin” algorithm update. This confirmed that Penguin data was being processed outside of the main search index, much like Panda data.
  • April 52-PackMay 4, 2012
  • Google published details of 52 updates in April, including changes that were tied to the “Penguin” update. Other highlights included a 15% larger “base” index, improved pagination handling, and a number of updates to sitelinks.
  • Panda 3.6 (#14)April 27, 2012
  • Barely a week after Panda 3.5, Google rolled out yet another Panda data update. The implications of this update were unclear, and it seemed that the impact was relatively small.
  • PenguinApril 24, 2012
  • After weeks of speculation about an “Over-optimization penalty”, Google finally rolled out the “Webspam Update”, which was soon after dubbed “Penguin.” Penguin adjusted a number of spam factors, including keyword stuffing, and impacted an estimated 3.1% of English queries.
  • Panda 3.5 (#13)April 19, 2012
  • In the middle of a busy week for the algorithm, Google quietly rolled out a Panda data update. A mix of changes made the impact difficult to measure, but this appears to have been a fairly routine update with minimal impact.
  • March 50-PackApril 3, 2012
  • Google posted another batch of update highlights, covering 50 changes in March. These included confirmation of Panda 3.4, changes to anchor-text “scoring”, updates to image search, and changes to how queries with local intent are interpreted.
  • Panda 3.4 (#12)March 23, 2012
  • Google announced another Panda update, this time via Twitter as the update was rolling out. Their public statements estimated that Panda 3.4 impacted about 1.6% of search results.
  • VeniceFebruary 27, 2012
  • As part of their monthly update, Google mentioned code-name “Venice”. This local update appeared to more aggressively localize organic results and more tightly integrate local search data.
  • February 40-Pack (2)February 27, 2012
  • Google published a second set of “search quality highlights” at the end of the month, claiming more than 40 changes in February. Notable changes included multiple image-search updates, multiple freshness updates (including phasing out 2 old bits of the algorithm), and a Panda update.
  • Panda 3.3 (#11)February 27, 2012
  • Google rolled out another post-“flux” Panda update, which appeared to be relatively minor. This came just 3 days after the 1-year anniversary of Panda, an unprecedented lifespan for a named update.
  • February 17-PackFebruary 3, 2012
  • Google released another round of “search quality highlights” (17 in all). Many related to speed, freshness, and spell-checking, but one major announcement was tighter integration of Panda into the main search index.
  • Ads Above The FoldJanuary 19, 2012
  • Google updated their page layout algorithms to devalue sites with too much ad-space above the “fold”. It was previously suspected that a similar factor was in play in Panda. The update had no official name, although it was referenced as “Top Heavy” by some SEOs.
  • Panda 3.2 (#10)January 18, 2012
  • Google confirmed a Panda data update, although suggested that the algorithm hadn’t changed. It was unclear how this fit into the “Panda Flux” scheme of more frequent data updates.
  • Search + Your WorldJanuary 10, 2012
  • Google announced a radical shift in personalization – aggressively pushing Google+ social data and user profiles into SERPs. Google also added a new, prominent toggle button to shut off personalization.
  • January 30-PackJanuary 5, 2012
  • Google announced 30 changes over the previous month, including image search landing-page quality detection, more relevant site-links, more rich snippets, and related-query improvements. The line between an “algo update” and a “feature” got a bit more blurred.

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