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Google Algorithm Updates, Changes & History (Full Timeline)

This page includes a list of confirmed Google algorithm updates.

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Below, you’ll find a complete history of Google algorithm changes, including the major core algorithm updates and minor ranking algorithm adjustments. The Google search ranking algorithm timeline spans from 2003, when the first update was officially announced by Google, to the present day in 2022 with a summary of the latest Google algorithm update.

Consider this your ultimate guide to the most important Google ranking updates, changes, and events in history that make up the world of search engine optimization (SEO) and Search index visibility as we know it.

Google Algorithm Updates

Table of Contents

Major Google Algorithm Updates

This is a list of the major Google algorithm updates that had the most impact on the search engine index and their associated dates throughout history.

  • Helpful Content Update (August 25, 2022)
  • Product Reviews Update (April 8, 2021)
  • BERT Natural Language Processing Update (2019)
  • Core “Medic” Update (August 1, 2018)
  • Mobile-First Index Update (March 26, 2018)
  • Intrusive Interstitials Penalty Update (January 10, 2017)
  • Penguin 4.0 Update (September 23, 2016)
  • Possum Update (September 1, 2016)
  • RankBrain Update (October 26, 2015)
  • Mobile-Friendly Update (April 21, 2015)
  • HTTPS/SSL Update (August 6, 2014)
  • Pigeon Update (July 24, 2014)
  • Hummingbird Update (September 26, 2013)
  • Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update (September 27, 2012)
  • Pirate Update (August 10, 2012)
  • Penguin Update (April 24, 2012)
  • Venice Update (February 27, 2012)
  • Page Layout Update (January 19, 2012)
  • Freshness Update (November 3, 2011)
  • Panda Update (February 23, 2011)
  • Caffeine Update (June 8, 2010)
  • Vince Update (February 20, 2009)
  • PageRank Update (October 7, 2007)
  • Jagger Update (October 19, 2005)
  • Brandy Update (February 1, 2004
  • Austin Update (January 23, 2004)
  • Florida Update (November 15, 2003)
  • Fritze Update (July 1, 2003)
  • Boston Update (February 1, 2003)
Google algorithm changes (2003-2022)

All Google Algorithm Changes (2003-2022)

This section includes a list of every Google algorithm change between 2003-2022 along with a summary of what each update targeted and meant to webmasters.

Google Algorithm Updates 2022

September 20, 2022

Product Reviews Update

This is the latest Google algorithm update that was officially confirmed by the company. It is the fifth release of the Product Reviews Update for English-language product reviews. The purpose of this algorithm change is to reward high-quality product reviews that demonstrate firsthand knowledge and expertise based on original research.

September 12, 2022

September 2022 Core Update

This Google core algorithm update was released in September 2022 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It’s the second Google core update for 2022.

August 25, 2022

Helpful Content Update

The Google Helpful Content Update was released to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in the search engine results pages. It aims to reward content where visitors feel satisfied with their experience while content that doesn’t meet user expectations does not perform as well in the SERPs. The ultimate goal is to encourage content creators to publish people-first content rather than search-engine first content.

July 27, 2022

Product Reviews Update

This was the fourth release of the Product Reviews Update for English-language product reviews. It was more of a refresh for the Google algorithm changes rather than anything new. The purpose is to reward high-quality product reviews based on real user testing and experience.

May 25, 2022

May 2022 Core Update

This Google core algorithm update was released in May 2022 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the first Google core update for 2022.

March 23, 2022

Product Reviews Update

This was the third release of the Product Reviews Update for English-language product reviews. This Google algorithm update builds on the existing work to enhance the algorithm’s ability to identify high-quality product review content to bring more helpful product reviews to Search. Two recommendations, in particular, included explaining why one product is best suited for a recommended purpose in roundup review posts and writing in-depth single-product reviews for each recommended product as long as there is enough useful content in the ranked list for it to stand on its own.

February 22, 2022

Page Experience Update for Desktop

This Google update builds on top of the previous Page Experience Update that was rolled out on mobile devices between June and August 2021. Google’s ranking algorithm will now use Core Web Vitals metrics (LCP, FID, and CLS) and their associated thresholds as part of its desktop ranking systems.

Google Algorithm Updates 2021

December 2021

Product Reviews Update

This was the second release of the Product Reviews Update for English-language product reviews. This Google algorithm update introduced two new best practices for product review content to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review. 1) Providing evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product and 2) Including links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice (when it makes sense).

November 30, 2021

Local Search Update

Google announced that this global update was released to rebalance various factors that are considered in generating local search results.

November 17, 2021

November 2022 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in November 2022 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. The changes with this update were about improving how its systems assess content overall for ranking in the SERPs. It was the third and final Google core update for 2021.

November 3, 2022

Spam Update

Google announced another broad spam update. This work was built on a previously confirmed Google algorithm update on July 26, 2021, named the Link Spam Update. However, few details were provided as to what this latest update targeted.

July 26, 2021

Link Spam Update

This Google update was released to improve its systems to fight link spam where website owners are participating in link schemes that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Recommendations were given for content publishers to qualify outbound links with the appropriate rel values for affiliate links, sponsored links, and guest post links.

July 1, 2021

July 2021 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in July 2021 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the second Google core update for 2021.

June 28, 2021

Spam Update 2

This was the second part of Google’s Spam Update, which was first released on June 23, 2021.

June 23, 2021

Spam Update

Google announced the release of a Spam Update that would help their systems fight web spam. A second part of these Google ranking updates will come the following week. No additional guidance or details were provided to the public about this algorithm update.

June 15, 2021

Page Experience Update for Mobile

This was the official announcement for the anticipated Page Experience Update for mobile devices. This Google update considers several page experience signals, including the three Core Web Vitals metrics: LCP, FID, and CLS. It was a gradual rollout that started on June 15, 2021, but the full role as part of the page experience ranking systems won’t be completed until the end of August 2021.

June 2, 2021

June 2021 Core Update

This Google core algorithm update was released in June 2021 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the first Google core update for 2021.

April 8, 2021

Product Reviews Update

Google announced an algorithm update focused on product review content. The purpose is to reward in-depth reviews with expert-level research over thin content reviews that only summarize existing product information. It impacts English-language only websites for now and is separate from Google’s regular core updates. Google gave guidance for website owners who publish review content, such as expressing expert knowledge about the products, showing what it is like physically, explaining how each product is different than the competitors, mentioning the drawbacks of each item, and addressing other important issues that help users make a decision.

February 10, 2021

Passage Ranking Update

Google announced a change to how it ranks specific passages from a web page in the search results. This update would only impact 7% of search queries across all languages. No specific guidance was given to help content publishers adjust their content for this update.

Google Algorithm Updates 2020

December 3, 2020

December 2020 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in December 2020 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. The changes with this update were about improving how its systems assess content overall for ranking in the SERPs. It was the third and final Google core update for 2020.

May 4, 2020

May 2020 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in May 2020 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the second Google core update for 2020.

January 13, 2020

January 2020 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in January 2020 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the first Google core update for 2020.

Google Algorithm Updates 2019

October 25, 2019

BERT Natural Language Processing Update

Google announced its Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) update that helps Google’s systems understand queries and web page content more like how humans do. It rolled out internationally in 70 languages. The purpose of the Google BERT Update was to improve the interpretation of complex long-tail search queries and display more relevant search results to users. BERT impacted 10% of searches.

September 24, 2019

September 2019 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in September 2019 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the third Google core update for 2019.

June 3, 2019

June 2019 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in June 2019 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the second Google core update for 2019.

March 15, 2019

March 2019 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in March 2019 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the first Google core algorithm update for 2019.

Google Algorithm Updates 2018

August 1, 2018

August 2018 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in August 2018 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. This update was dubbed as the Google Medic Update because there was a major change in SERP rankings to help improve the identification of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) online. There were many reports of massive impacts on website rankings. While the Google Medic Update affected numerous industries, most of the web pages that were affected were labeled as “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) pages, which impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety. It was the fourth Google core update for 2018.

May 14, 2018

Meta Description Snippet Length Drop Update

Google’s Public Liaison of Search, Danny Sullivan, announced on Twitter that Google’s search snippets were now shorter on average than in recent weeks but still slightly longer than before the change that was made in November 2017. He also said that “There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.” The character limit for search snippets is back to its former limit of around 150-160 characters.

April 20, 2018

April 2018 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in April 2018 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the third Google core update for 2018.

March 26, 2018

Mobile-First Index Rollout Update

Google announced that it was rolling out the mobile-first index. Mobile-first indexing means that its systems will use the mobile version of a web page for indexing and ranking in the search engine results pages. Webmasters will be notified in Search Console when their sites have migrated to mobile-first indexing.

March 12, 2018

March 2018 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in March 2018 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the second Google core update for 2018.

January 18, 2018

January 2018 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in January 2018 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the first Google core update for 2018.

Google Algorithm Updates 2017

December 20, 2017

Maccabees Update

Google confirmed that it release several minor algorithm updates that occurred between December 14 to 19, 2017. SEO industry expert Barry Schwartz named this the Maccabees Update.

November 30, 2017

Meta Description Snippet Length Increase Update

Google confirmed that an update was made to the meta description snippet length in Search. The SERP change was made to provide more descriptive and useful snippets for ranking web pages to help users better understand how pages are relevant to their searches. This resulted in meta description snippet length becoming longer; up to 300 characters from the previous 150-160 characters on average.

August 22,2017

Hawk Update

This update made corrections to the Possum Update that rolled out on September 1, 2016. It refined a filter that had unfairly impacted local search rankings for businesses in close proximity or within the same building that were relevant for the same local search queries. Local SEO expert Joy Hawkins named this the Hawk Update because hawks eat possums.

March 8, 2017

Fred Update 

This algorithm update was not officially confirmed by Google; however, there were significant ranking changes across websites on the Internet that were impacted on March 8, 2017. Gary Illyes jokingly referred to it as “Fred”, and the name stuck. The Google Fred Update was an algorithm change that targeted websites that were tied to aggressive monetization. This included an overload of ads, low-value content, and little added user benefits. Essentially, Google is now lowering search engine visibility for content sites that seem to be created for the primary purpose of generating revenue over solving a user’s problem or satisfying their needs.

January 10, 2017

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty Update

Google updated its algorithm to penalize websites that have intrusive interstitials that get in the way of mobile users. Examples include showing a pop-up over the main content, displaying a standalone interstitial that a user must dismiss before they can access the content, and having a site layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears to be like a standalone interstitial. This Google algorithm change only impacted websites that had interstitials that were present when a user clicks from Google’s mobile search to the web page; not from within your site when navigating between pages.

Google Algorithm Updates 2016

September 23, 2016

Penguin 4.0 Update

Google announced a fourth major release of its Penguin algorithm update. Google Penguin has now become part of the Google core search algorithm, which means it will be refreshed in real-time. Google Penguin 4.0 is also more granular, so the impact on rankings for affected websites will mostly be on individual pages or parts of a site that are detected to be using link schemes or keyword stuffing. Previously, Penguin was a sitewide penalty and the discovery of low-quality links to any portion of a site would cause a sitewide drop in search engine rankings. Now, Google’s ranking algorithm devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals rather than penalizing websites. Google also said that it will no longer confirm future Penguin updates because it operates in real-time within its core search algorithm.

September 1, 2016

Possum Update

This update changed Google’s local search rankings algorithm. It was not officially confirmed by Google; however, significant updates in how local businesses ranked in the search engine results pages were discovered by the SEO community. Filters seemed to be applied based on address and affiliation. Unfortunately, this resulted in Google’s Possum Update filtering out legitimate business listings if they shared the same Google business categories with other entities in the same building or within close proximity. The local SEO community named this the Possum Update because it seemed like Google My Business listings were gone when they actually were not, kind of like they were playing possum.

May 12, 2016

Mobile-Friendly Update 2

Google announced that it had increased the weight of the mobile-friendliness ranking signal that was first rolled out on April 21, 2015. This algorithm change was meant to help users find even more pages that are mobile-friendly and relevant to their search queries.

January 12, 2016

January 2016 Core Update

Google released this broad core update in January 2016 to increase the overall relevancy of the search results and to make them more helpful and useful for everyone. It was the first and only Google core update for 2016. At this point in Google’s algorithm history, core updates are rarely confirmed. However, Gary Illyes and John Mueller both confirmed that fluctuations in the SERPs were from a Google core update and not a Penguin update, which many webmasters were expecting to see sometime this year.

Google Algorithm Updates 2015

October 26, 2015

RankBrain Update

Google announced a new component of its core algorithm called RankBrain that uses machine learning to determine the most relevant results to search engine queries. It was built on the work done by the Hummingbird Update which was confirmed on September 26, 2013. With RankBrain, the ranking algorithm can now understand user intent on a more human-like level and can better process search queries that the systems had never encountered before.

Before RankBrain was part of the core algorithm, the systems relied on matching search results with web pages that contained the exact match keywords phrases. Now with RankBrain in place, search queries go through an interpretation model that can apply other potential factors that help determine the true intent of the search like the location of the searcher, personalization, order of words, etc. RankBrain is one of the top three influential ranking factors in Google.

July 18, 2015

Panda 4.2 Update

Google confirmed a Panda Update that was a refresh to the existing Panda algorithm. At a later date, on January 11, 2016, Google confirmed that the Panda ranking algorithm had been incorporated into the Google core algorithm. This meant that Panda was no longer a filter being applied to the ranking system after the initial processing had been completed but would now be incorporated as another part of the core ranking signals.

May 3, 2015

May 2015 Core Update

Initially, this Google core update was not confirmed by the company. However, there was a broad impact on search engine rankings for websites across the Internet. Therefore, it was dubbed as the “Phantom 2 Update” by the SEO community. After a few weeks, Google finally acknowledged a core algorithm change impacting quality signals which then changed the official name of the update to “The Quality Update”.

April 21, 2015

Mobile-Friendly Update

Google confirmed an update to its algorithm that used a website’s mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor for mobile search. This was the first algorithm update to ever be pre-announced to the public. It was also given the name Mobilegeddon, which was a term coined by Chuck Price in a post written for Search Engine Watch on March 9, 2015, about how to prepare for this Google update.

Google Algorithm Updates 2014

December 22, 2014

Pigeon Update Expands

Google announced that the Pigeon local ranking algorithm update released earlier this year on July 24, 2014, in the U.S. had now expanded to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

December 10, 2014

Penguin Everflux Update

Google confirmed that the Penguin algorithm had shifted to continuous updates, so there would no longer be infrequent, major updates in search engine rankings for websites across the Internet.

October 21, 2014

Pirate Update 2

Google announced an update to the DMCA demotion signal in its search algorithm ranking systems that was first released on August 10, 2012. This signal was used to reduce the visibility and rankings of sites with a large number of valid DMCA notices.

October 15, 2014

Penguin 3 Update

Google launched the third refresh to its Penguin algorithm. The Google Penguin 3 Update affected fewer than 1% of search queries in the U.S. English search results.

September 23, 2014

Panda 4.1 Update

Google confirmed a Panda algorithm update that would help its ranking systems identify low-quality content more precisely while also giving greater diversity of high-quality content on small- and medium-sized sites higher rankings in the SERPs. It impacted about 3-5% of search queries.

August 6, 2014

HTTPS/SSL Update

This Google algorithm update made HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) encryption a ranking signal. For now, it’s only a very lightweight signal, but over time, Google may decide to strengthen it. Therefore, website owners should work toward switching their websites from HTTP to HTTPS.

July 24, 2014

Pigeon Update

Google launched an update to its local search algorithm to help its systems provide more accurate and relevant local search results. This new update helps the local algorithm tie deeper into the systems’ web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals, Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms, and more. It also helps improve search results based on distance and location ranking parameters. For now, this update is only rolling out to U.S. English search results with no set time period for being applied to other languages or countries. Google did not give this update an internal name so Search Engine Land dubbed it the Pigeon Update, which was adopted by the SEO community.

May 20, 2014

Panda 4.0 Update

Google confirmed a major update to the Panda algorithm. This is the fourth version of the ranking algorithm that targets low-quality content by reducing its visibility in the SERPs. It affected 7.5% of English-language search queries.

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June 12, 2014

PayDay Loan 3.0 Update

Google confirmed an update to its PayDay Loan algorithm. The Google PayDay Loan 3.0 update targeted spammy queries that are associated with excessive web spam.

May 16, 2014

PayDay Loan 2.0 Update

Google confirmed an update to its PayDay Loan algorithm. Version 2.0 of this ranking algorithm focused on websites that were targeting spammy search queries.

February 6, 2014

Page Layout Update 3

Google launched a refresh of its Page Layout algorithm that was first launched on January 19, 2012, and then updated on October 9, 2012. This ranking algorithm penalizes sites that are too top-heavy with advertisements; meaning too many ads above the fold.

Google Algorithm Updates 2013

October 4, 2013

Penguin 2.1 Update

Google announced an update to its Penguin algorithm. The Google Penguin 2.1 Update had a moderate impact on the search results with a low percentage of webmasters being affected hard by this algorithm change.

September 26, 2013

Hummingbird Update

The Google Hummingbird Update was confirmed on this date during Google’s 15th anniversary event; however, this core algorithm update had actually been released one month prior on August 20, 2013. Humminbird made the indexing system much more precise and fast for delivering search results to users. It improved the semantic search capabilities and extended the Google Knowledge Graph. This update revolutionized Google Search because its systems could now recognize relationships between search queries by bringing meaning to the words people were typing into Search. This advancement led to a lesser focus on exact match keywords for ranking content in the SERPs for relevant queries. Humminbird was the biggest overhaul of the core ranking algorithm since 2001.

July 18, 2013

Panda Update 26

Google confirmed a Panda update that incorporates new signals so it can be more finely targeted. This was the final Panda algorithm update for 2013.

June 21, 2013

Multi-Week Update

Matt Cutts confirmed that a Google algorithm update would be pushed out over multiple weeks. No further details were given; however, massive rankings volatility occurred between June 21, 2013, to the week after July 4, 2013.

June 11, 2013

PayDay Loan Update

Google announced an algorithm update that would specifically target spammy queries and spammy sites. Referred to as the Google PayDay Loan Update, this algorithm change impacted approximately 0.3 percent of search queries in the U.S. that were related to high-interest loans, payday loans, debt consolidation sites, casinos, adult content, and other heavily-spammed niches like pharmaceuticals, mortgages, and insurance.

May 22, 2013

Penguin 2.0 Update

Google confirmed an udpate to its Penguin algorithm. The Google Penguin 2.0 Update was improved to fight against link spam. An estimated 2.3% of English queries were noticeably impacted by this update.

March 14, 2013

Panda Update 25

This update to the Panda algorithm was pre-announced by Matt Cutts, head of the Web Spam Team at Google, at the SMX West conference in San Jose, California. He referenced that this algorithm change could be the last update before Panda was integrated into the Google core algorithm.

January 22, 2013

Panda Update 24

This was the first update to the Panda algorithm for 2013. Approximately, 1.2% of all search queries were affected by this ranking algorithm change.

Google Algorithm Updates 2012

December 21, 2012

Panda Update 23

This was the final Panda algorithm update for 2012. The Panda Update 23 refresh impacted 1.3% of English queries.

November 21, 2012

Panda Update 22

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

November 5, 2012

Panda Update 21

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

October 9, 2012

Page Layout Update 2

This update was a refresh to the previous Page Layout Update that launched on January 19, 2012. It targeted web pages that were too top-heavy with ads.

October 5, 2012

Penguin Update 3

This was a minor update to the Penguin algorithm. About 0.3% of all search queries were impacted by this algorithm change.

September 27, 2012

Panda Update 20

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

September 27, 2012

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update

Google confirmed a ranking algorithm update that would reduce the signal for exact-match domains (EMD) that previously got a ranking boost for having target keywords in the domain name.

September 18, 2012

Panda Update 3.9.2

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

August 20, 2012

Panda Update 3.9.1

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

August 10, 2012

Pirate Update

This Google update was launched to reduce the rankings and visibility of websites that had too many copyright infringement complaints filed via Google’s DMCA system.

July 24, 2012

Panda Update 3.9

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

June 25, 2012

Panda Update 3.8

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

June 8, 2012

Panda Update 3.7

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

May 25, 2012

Penguin Update 2

This update was a small refresh to the Penguin algorithm. The Google Penguin Update 2 affected less than 0.1% of queries.

April 27, 2012

Panda Update 3.6

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

April 24, 2012

Penguin Update

The Google Penguin Update was a major algorithm update that impacted around 3.1% of all English-language search results. It was referred to as the “Webspam Update” because it targeted SEO practices that violated Google’s quality guidelines. In particular, the goal of the Google Penguin Update was to decrease rankings for sites that were believed to be violating Google’s quality guidelines by manipulating search engine rankings with black hat link building techniques and keyword stuffing.

Webmasters who were buying links or obtaining them through link networks, and/or populating web pages with large quantities of keywords or repetitions of keywords to increase SERP rankings were severely affected by this update. The Penguin update marked one of the biggest shifts in Google’s algorithm history for changing out digital marketers approached both on-page and off-page SEO for their websites.

April 9, 2012

Panda Update 3.5

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

March 23, 2012

Panda Update 3.4

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

February 27, 2012

Venice Update

This confirmed Google update changed the ranking system for localized organic results on broad search queries. Now, Google can find relevant search results from a user’s city more reliably by better detecting when both queries and documents are local to the user.

February 27, 2012

Panda Update 3.3

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

January 19, 2012

Page Layout Update

Google launched a new algorithm change that scans the layout of a web page to find out how much of the main content a user can see when arriving on the page. Web pages that are top-heavy with advertisements above the fold that require users to scroll down to see the main content on the page would be penalized and not rank as well in Google Search. According to Google’s announcement, this penalty can be removed by updating the page layout. When Googlebot recrawls the content, it will automatically assess the changes and re-rank your content in the SERPs without the penalty applied.

January 18, 2012

Panda Update 3.2

This was the first confirmed Panda algorithm update for 2012.

Google Algorithm Updates 2011

November 18, 2011

Panda Update 3.1

This was the final confirmed Panda algorithm update for 2011.

November 3, 2011

Freshness Update

This Google update built on the word completed by the Caffeine web indexing system that was announced on June 8, 2010. The Google Freshness Update improved the ranking algorithm for approximately 35% of searches so that specific types of queries resulted in more up-to-date relevant results based on varying degrees of freshness.

October 19, 2011

Panda Update 3.0

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

September 28, 2011

Panda Update 2.5

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

August 12, 2011

Panda Update 2.4

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

July 23, 2011

Panda Update 2.3

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

June 21, 2011

Panda Update 2.2

May 9, 20111

Panda Update 2.1

This was a confirmed Panda algorithm update.

April 11, 2011

Panda Update 2.0

This was the first confirmed Panda algorithm update for 2012. Google plans to perform monthly refreshes of this algorithm going forward.

February 23, 2011

Panda Update

The Google Panda Update was a major change in Google’s algorithm history. It was aimed at lowering the rankings of low-quality sites and thin-content sites, also known as content farms. After Google’s Caffeine Update had been released in 2010, the systems were crawling, indexing, and ranking content much faster, and some website owners were exploiting the new speed of the algorithm by posting large volumes of low-value content and/or copying content from other websites just to get more pages indexed in the SERPs. Some websites used this web spam tactic to earn higher revenue with display advertisements (i.e, more pages equaled more ad impressions) while others were heavily focused on article marketing as a form of link building.

Google’s Panda algorithm update provided better rankings for high-quality sites that produced original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, etc, while demoting sites that were trying to manipulate the ranking systems with low-quality content that wasn’t useful for searchers. This algorithm change had a noticeable impact on about 11.8% of search queries.

Google Algorithm Updates 2010

June 8, 2010

Caffeine Update

Google announced a major change to its web indexing system called the Caffeine Update. Caffeine was one of the best Google algorithm changes to date because it allowed the indexing system to provide 50% fresher results. Previously, Google’s index had several layers that require the systems to update the search results every couple of weeks. Now, with Caffeine in place, Google can analyze the web in small portions and update its search index on a continuous basis. This is good news for getting your content index, ranked, and discovered in Google Search much faster than ever before.

May 1, 2010

May Day Update

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, confirmed that a Google core algorithm update was rolling out from April 28, 20110 to May 3, 2010. This algorithmic change helped the systems find higher quality sites to surface for long-tail queries. It was dubbed the May Day Update.

Google Algorithm Updates 2009

February 20, 2009

Vince Update

The Vince Update is also known as the Big Brand Update. It marks a time in Google’s ranking algorithm history when there was a noticeable change in big brand websites being favored in the top SERP positions for competitive keywords. Previously, any website could rank for such terms; however, on this date, Google made a minor change to the algorithm so that certain factors such as overall website quality, trust, and PageRank were more heavily weighted for generic search queries than the content alone. The update got its name because a Google employee named Vince was the one who made the change. It’s also referred to as the Trust Change Update.

Google Algorithm Updates 2008

April 1, 2008

Dewey Update

This update was not officially confirmed by Google; however, there were noticeable changes in the search results by the SEO community. When it was brought to Matt Cutts attention, he requested that webmasters submit examples in a Google form and also mention the word “dewey” in the “Additional details” text area. That’s what gave this update its name: the Google Dewey Update.

Google Algorithm Updates 2007

October 7, 2007

PageRank Update

This Google algorithm update changed how sites were penalized for selling links. Previously, Google’s ranking systems would just prevent links from a site or specific web pages it detected were purchased links from passing PageRank value to the target site for SEO. Now, Google’s algorithm may penalize your site in addition to dropping the PageRank score that it has. This change is to fight against paid link schemes that are used to manipulate search engine rankings.

Google Algorithm Updates 2006

No Confirmed Updates

There were no confirmed Google algorithm updates for 2006. There were two unconfirmed updates called the False Alarm Update and Supplemental Update but Google never reported any major ranking algorithm changes during this year.

Google Algorithm Updates 2005

October 19, 2005

Jagger Update

This Google algorithm update changed how the ranking systems understood and weighted links pointing to a site. It now took into account the anchor text of backlinks, the page content with the incoming link, and the velocity at which backlinks were coming into the website. The purpose of the Jagger Update was to reduce link spam by detecting low-quality backlinks and link farm websites.

May 1, 2005

Bourbon Update

This Google update did not last long and changes were reverted. Users of Webmaster World reported that the Google Sandbox was broken (i.e., their new websites were suddenly ranking for competitive keywords). Speculation was that Google’s ranking algorithm changed how duplicate content and non-canonical (www vs. non-www) URLs were treated.

Google Algorithm Updates 2004

February 1, 2004

Brandy Update

This Google update included multiple changes to increase the efficiency of the ranking systems. It included an expansion of the index, Google’s ability to use Latent Semantic Indexing, anchor text relevance, and the concept of link neighborhoods (i.e., a collection of sites that are connected by links).

January 23, 2004

Austin Update

This Google core algorithm update was built on the previous work of the Flordia Update released on November 15, 2003. The Google Austin Update targeted deceptive on-page SEO tactics such as over-optimized meta tags, keyword density, keyword positioning, and invisible text on the page. Together, these two Google ranking updates leveled the playing field for higher quality content to rank in the SERPs that deserved it.

Google Algorithm Updates 2003

November 15, 2003

Florida Update

This was the first major Google algorithm update that made significant changes to the ranking systems. It had catastrophic effects on a large number of websites. Although Google never officially confirmed what the Florida Update was targeting, SEO industry experts theorize that it was Google’s first attempt at using statistical analysis to find link spam.

However, many innocent websites lost their rankings because they were labeled as false positives. This Google core update caused a major disruption to the SERPs and many people reported that non-relevant pages started ranking for their search queries. Nonetheless, Google was testing new methods to catch link spam used to manipulate search engine rankings and the Florida Update changed how its systems calculated link value for the ranking algorithm moving into the future.

July 1, 2003

Fritz Update

This Google ranking algorithm update changed how often the index was updated. Google switched from monthly index updates to a process that updated a percentage of the index every day. Before this update, webmasters referred to the monthly rank changes as the Google Dance because ranking position changes could dramatically change every few weeks.

February 1, 2003

Boston Update

This was the first official and named Google algorithm update. It was announced by Google at the SES Boston Conference. The Google algorithm changes were aimed at improving the ranking systems to do a better job of analyzing a website’s backlink data.