It is crucial for any SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to be kept up-to-date with Google’s Algorithms as it will help you to acknowledge traffic patterns to your website.
Every year Google will change the search algorithm around 600 times. Whereas some of the changes are minor changes, occasionally Google will include a major update. In the past these updates such as Google Panda and Google Penguin have affected search results significantly.
It is therefore important to make sure you have a pretty good understanding of what to do when these updates are rolled out. Of course, you could choose to use a reputable SEO agency to handle things for you.
To know the dates of these updates from Google, will help search marketers to understand the changes in organic website traffic, rankings and to also improve website SEO.
The Google Algorithm Timeline
Here is a timeline from when Google placed their first update in the year 2000 to the present day.
Fred – (Unconfirmed) – Update: This update caused massive impacts within the SEO community. It has been known to target link quality aspects but there wasn’t any official confirmation. More info is yet to come.
Unnamed Major Update: Google did not provide any information about this update
Intrusive Interstitial Penalty: Google targeted sites with strong interstitials and pop-ups which discouraged the mobile experience. Google mentioned that it would only affect mobile searches to a page and it doesn’t have anything to do with the desktop page.
Unnamed Major Update:There is not any information from Google about this update.
Unnamed Major Update: There is not any information from Google about this update.
Penguin 4.0 (Real Time) Update: Google Penguin had been finally released in real time after 2 years and they suggested that this should be incorporated in their main algorithm. This will affect pages rather than an entire domain.
Possum Update: Drastic and sudden fluctuations in rankings were being seen by webmasters and organic SERPs were affected too.
Mobile Friendly – 2 Update: This update was released to provide a signal boost for mobile friendly websites with mobile searches. This was a year after Mobilegeddon.
Unnamed Major Update: Some tracking tools found major fluctuation in rankings and changes but Google did not confirm anything and details are yet to be seen.
Adwords Shake Up: Google had restructured the AdWords layout. The ads on the column to the right, were replaced with 4 ads at the top of the SERPs. It also affected paid campaigns and also effected organic search results and CTRs.
Unnamed Update/Google Core Algorithm Update: This was a cre algorithm update but some people thought it was another Penguin rollout. This update created major ranking fluctuations on desktop and mobile queries. This had a global impact.
Rank Brain: Google used AI or artificial intelligence to provide better results to its users.
Panda 4.2: This update would take around 10 months to fully complete but the exact information of the update was unclear. Google said that it would affect 2 – 3%of English search queries
Core Search Algorithm Update: This changed the ranking algorithm on processing quality signals. These fluctuations could only be seen on either Mozcast or SERPmetrics. Apparently it had nothing to do with Panda, Penguin or HTTPs even tho it was originally called Phantom 2.
Mobile – Friendly Update (Mobile gn): This was a Mobile update which was known as Mobilegeddon. The main purpose was to bring up the rankings for mobile-ready pages and to provide good, high quality results for mobile users
Unconfirmed Update: There were many fluctuations in the SERP rankings according to tracking tools and website owners. Apparently this was because of an e-commerce/mobile usability update.
Google Pigeon Expansion (English – Speaking Regions): The Pigeon update had now become available to Canada, Australia, United Kingdom around December 2014.
Google Penguin Continuous Update: A representative mentioned that now the Penguin updates will be continuous rather than having major updates every so often.
Google Pirate 2.0 Update: This update was fighting against digital media and software privacy. Some small group of sites said that they have major drops in rankings. British Phonographic Industry welcomed the update. Some torrent sites were also hit such as TorrentFreak.
Google Penguin 3.0: The Penguin Algorithm has now been revised a year from the previous update and it was called the Penguin refresh. It was not a big update as it only affected around 1% of search queries.
Google Panda 4.1 Update: From all the Google Panda Updates, this was the 27th and it affected only 3-5% of search queries. Those small to medium sized sites Google was trying to improve the rankings of these.
Google Authorship Removed Update: Google removed authorship altogether from the SERP as it was not much help to the user. Also it wasn’t really working.
Google HTTPS/SSL Update: For those secure sites they would have a slight boost in rankings however encrypted sites were more preferable
Google Pigeon Update: This was a significant local search update the shook the SEO fraternity. It improve Google’s distance and location ranking in the algorithm. It provided better local search results.
Authorship Photo Drop Update: This would stop the Authorship photos in the SERPs. This update showed that Google+ was becoming less significant. All the photos were dropped by June 28th from SERP.
Google Payday Loan (3) Update: This was a followup from the Payday Loan Update and it targeted more spammy sites
Google Panda 4.0 Update: This was one very important update on the Panda algorithm. This was a data refresh and also a change in the algorithm also. Around 7.5% of English queries were affected by the Panda 4.0 update.
Google Payday Loan (2) Update: The payday loan companies became penalised by Google but there was no specific details.
Google Page Layout 3 Update: The page layout update penalised the sites which had too much ads on top of their pages. Or, had ads that were distracting to the website user.
Google Authorship Shake-Up Update: This is when Google realised there had been a reduction in the number of authorship queries at around 15% on the SERPs. They felt that this was impeding the results.
Google Penguin (2.1) or 5 Update: The Penguin 5 Update did not show any changes to the algorithm but some websites took a hit after the update and some mentioned the effect was minimal.
Google Hummingbird Update: This Algorithm update lead to some huge changes in infrastructure and there were great improvements to the semantic search and the knowledge graph. This helped the way Google processed information and started a conversational search. This is where you could ask questions and get answers.
Google Indepth Article Update: Google started introducing ‘in-depth articles and it was to provide fresh and good quality content.
Google Unnamed Update: There was no name to this update but there was a rapid increase in rankings.
Google Knowledge Graph Expansion Update (2): Google’s number of KG or Knowledge graphs increased within the SERPs. This was around an increase of 50%. Searches for brands were benefitting from this too.
Google Panda Recovery Update: This update made changes to the algorithm of the Panda update and it softened some of the other previous Panda penalties.
Google Multi-Week Update: Between June and July there was huge fluctuations in rankings and it may have been Google testing out some new changes. Once these were stabilized Google did not make these permanent and they eventually were stopped.
Google Panda Dance Update: This caused website to ‘dance’ up and down rankings for a few days and this updated would take around 10 days to complete.
Google Payday Loan Update: This update targeted Payday Loan and porn websites which had a lot of spam. This apparently would take a few months to fix but it needed some time to implement fully.
Google Penguin (2.0) or 4 Update: The information about this update was unknown and after speculating it is said to have been targeting the issues of page level.
Google Domain Crowding Update: This update controlled the domain crowding and diversity from Google page 2 on the SER
Google Phantom Update: This was updated around 9th May and it created havoc in the ranking on the SERP. Many sites lost a high amount of traffic from this update but nobody knew exactly was the update was about.
Google 25 Update: This is where Matt Cutts mentioned that is was the last update before Panda was being integrated in the search algorithm. Also mentioned was using Fetch as Googlebot.
Google 24 Update: This was the first official update of 2013 and this update affected 1.3% of queries.
Google Panda 23 Update: This update was the Panda ‘refresh’ and this affected 1.3% of English queries and had a larger impact than previous updates such as Panda 21 & 22.
Google Knowledge Graph Expansion Update: The update responded better to non English queries in languages such as Spanish, English, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Russian and Italian.
Google Panda 22 Update: This was a minor update from the 21. Not much happened from this update.
Google Panda 21 Update: The 21 update affected 1.1 % of English queries and stopped after the time gap of around 5 – 12 weeks from the Panda 20 update.
Google Page Layout 2 Update: At the beginning of the year Google penalized sites with too much ad space. This update only enhanced this system. This was either algorithmic or a change in data.
Google Penguin 3 Update: This was a data based update rather than an algorithmic and affected only 0.3% of search queries.
Google August/ September 65 Pack Update: This update was 2 months worth of updates in one update which totaled 65 changes in August and September. This resulted in page quality assessment, 7 result SERPs, improvement in local search and Knowledge Graph expansion.
Google Exact Match Domain (EMD): In the EMD update Google handled exact match domains. These eventually were not as attractive as started and Google stats said that 0.6% of search queries were affected.
Google Panda 20 Update: 2.4% of search queries were affected when Panda 20 update and the EMD update were mixed.
Google Panda (3.9.2) or 19 Update: This update caused ranking flux and it was not a major update.
Google Panda ( 3.9.1) or 18 Update: This had some minor changes to Google’s Panda Algorithm.
Google 7 Results Serp Update: The top 10 results on SERP for some search queries was now limited to 7 after this new update.
Google DMCA Penalty (‘Pirate’) Update: It was announced by Google that it would start to penalize sites for repeated copyright infringements. This was measured by DMCA takedown requests.
Google June/July 86 Pack Update: This was the 86th update that had been released during the month of June & July. Google Image
Google Panda (3.9) or 17 Update: This minor update affected only1% of search queries.
Google Manual ACtion Warning: Google provided a warning to Webmasters Tools and any unnatural links. These didn’t cause to much of a serious problem according to Google but no-none didn’t have any idea what it meant.
Google Panda (3.8) or 16 Update: This was one other of Panda’s data refresh updates with didn’t have much effect on SERP’s.
Google Panda (3.7) or 15 Update: This algorithmic update affected less than 1% of search queries.
Google May 39 Pack Updates: This was the 39th change to the Penguin Update. It had better detection, finding hacked pages and music riched snippets on a mobile.
Google Penguin (1.1) or 2 Update: This update was about the data handling of Google Penguin and it will be separated from the main index search.
Google Knowledge Graph Update: This update was to provide information directly available to users by improving the semantic analysis and interpretation which automatically displayed information within the SERP for certain searches.
Google April 52 Pack Update: This was a revision of Penguins 52nd change. THis included a better identification of web pages by country and better HTML5 resource caching for mobiles. This included a 15% larger index.
Google Panda (3.6) or 14 Update: The 14 update did not have much impact and it was only released 1 week after the last update.
Google Penguin Update: Within Google, this was called the webspam update and it focussed on mainly over optimising through keyword stuffing, spam links etc. around 3.1% of English search queries were affected. There were warnings sent from Google to the Webmaster tools and site were penalized for not abiding by Google’s guidelines. This was a major update after Google Panda.
Google Panda (3.5) or 13 Update: This update had a small effect but had a lot of changes. The changes were minor but it refreshed Google Panda’s data.
Google Parked Domain Bug: This update fixed a bug whereby GOogle made a mistake by devaluing domains thinking they were parked.
Google March 50 Pack Update: Google produced 50 changes to help improve the search quality. This gave better sources in Google News, local results, included the +1 button to more domains and countries.
Google Panda (3.4) or 12 Update: This update affected around 1.6% of search queries as found when refreshing the update.
Google Search Quality Video Update: This was a video show the public about ‘Google’s Weekly Search Quality Review Meeting’. There was Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts among others and it gave viewers an idea of Google’s processes and priorities.
Google Panda (3.3) or 11 Update: This update changed the way Google handled the link evaluation after 1 year 3 days from the launch of Panda algorithm update. This helped ranking for the local search results.
Google February 40 Pack Update: These 40 changes in Google’s Search Quality had increased accuracy in findout out official sites, synonyms for different languages and had a new look in search results.
Google Venice Update: The name Venice was given to this monthly update. The organic results were localised by retrieving data for local searches.
Google February 17 Pack Update: Google algorithm had 17 changes with a new look, better speed and also spell checking. Panda was about to be integrated with the main search index.
Google Ads Above The Fold Update: This targeted packed sites that used ad-sense and these were devalued.
Google Panda (3.2) or 10 Update: This was a Panda Data Update and the algorithm was not changed. Google did not mention about the Panda Flux which as making frequent updates.
Google Search+ (Plus) Your World Update: This was an update to promote Google+ user profiles and social data in SERP. There used to be a toggle button to turn off personalisation and to hide these from the search engine results, which some did.
Google January 30 Pack Update: Google produced 30 changes to the search results algorithm. These includes better snippets, giving better results for lyrics and to detect spammed images in searches.
Google December 10 Pack Update: Google announced ten individual algorithm changes the provided brand new results and detected parked domains.
Google Panda 3.1 Update: From releasing Panda 2.5, Google brought out ‘Panda Flux’ where updates happened more frequently. These two updates were minor ones.
Google 10 Pack of Updates: Google tried to become transparent with its webmaster.
Google Freshness Update: The Freshness update affected around 35% of search queries and mainly time specific search results were affected. If stated that fresher content was more important and tried to get webmasters to provide updated content on the site and to provide a good user experience.
Google Query Encryption Update: This encrypted search queries and was primarily down to privacy reasons. This changed the way SEos worked as it incorporated a ‘not provided’ for organic traffic.
Google Panda Flux (8) Update: This update released smaller changes to Panda. Again affected around 2% of sites.
Google Panda (2.5) or 7 Update: This was another few changes to Panda it impacted around 2% of sites.
516 Google Algorithm Update: This was an announcement that Google had made 516 updates in 2010. They tested 13,000 updates in the year 2010 too and they wanted to give prime importance to their users and the search experience.
Google Pagination Elements Update: THis was mainly for e-commerce websites. The crawling and duplication issues were cleared and this improved consolidation and canonicalization to View All Pages.
Google: Expanded Site Links Update: This update enriched search snippets on the SERP. Google started to expand site links which provided more information under each link. Authoritative websites could display around 6 links under their site link.
Google Panda (2.4) or 6 Update: This update now covered all the major languages except for Chinese, Japanese and also Korean.
Google Panda (2.3) or 5 Update: Small changes to the Google Panda Filter. It refined the existing algorithm.
Google+ (Plus) Update: This is a new social media platform and was Google’s answer to Facebook. It emphasized sharing content through social groups which they called ‘circles’. Within two weeks Google had over 10 million users.
Google Panda (2.2) or 4 Update: This targeted sites that scraped content from the original source which prevent violators from ranking better. It also updated continually Panda-impacted sites and data. Giving webmasters reminders about Google Dance.
Google Schema.org Update: This Update presented structured data which provided more enriched search results to the user and was jointly supported by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
Google Panda (2.1) or 3 Update: There was not any information on this update but according to Google it made minor changes to enhance the existing Google Panda update.
Google Panda 2 Update: This updates added additional queries to refine the algorithm which had english searches. It also started to collect data about those site which were blocked by users and indicated that these may be offering a poor user experience.
Google +1 Button Update: Google launched the +1 Button which aided users to influence search results in their local circle including organic and paid search results.
Google Farmer & Panda Update: This Google update affected around 12% of search queries and it attacks spam by focussing on low quality websites that are not adhering to Google’s quality guidelines.
Google Attribution Update: This update decreased the impact of scrapers by altering how the algorithm processed content attribution. It only affected a small 2% of search queries.
Google Overstock Penalty Update: This update was to attack the spam. It found that overstock.com webmasters were using heavy black hat SEO techniques along with JCPenny. This update was a precursor of the Panda Update.
Google Social Signals Update: Google is now including social signals like Facebook and Twitter in the ranking algorithm. Microsoft also confirmed this.
Google Negative Reviews Update: Google changed the algorithm by modifying the visibility of websites that were becoming popular on SERP with their negative reviews. This was shortly after New York Times reported how DecorMyEyes were getting a lot of visibility due to negative reviews.
Google Instant Previews Update: Google allows users to preview pages within SERPs when using the magnify icon. This showed landing page quality, design and usability.
Google Instant Update: This is mainly focussing on user experience than SEo. This offers instant results for users as they type in the search query.
Google Brand Update: Before this update Google allowed each domain to appear one or two times in the search results. Now the domain can show many times with Google Brand Update.
Google Caffeine (Official Roll-Out) Update: This was a change to Google’s Caffeine algorithm. The speed of the search results was improved and provided a 50% newer index.
Google Mayday Update: Here, Google started to penalise sites with thin content by restricting the long tail traffic. This was a precursor to the future Google update of Panda.
Google Places Update: The Google Local Business was rebranded to Google Places. Maps now became an important search tool. Google provided options for local ads to the paid customers.
Google Real-Time Search Update: This update added real time content to the search such as Google news, twitter feeds, recent indexed content etc. Eventually this would include posts from social media.
Google Caffeine (Preview) Update: The goal of this was to make crawling faster whilst making the index much bigger. The main goal was to provide real time ranking. This was an upcoming change which invited users to check it out.
Google Rel-Canonical Tag Update: Canonical Tag was working and supported by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. This allowed webmasters to tell the search engines about which duplicate content needs to be displayed to the page visitors.
Google Vince Update: For major brands this update was a Google favourite but this had a minor effect on the search results. For smallers brands this had a larger lasting impact.
Google Suggest Update: When users were using search phrases, Google started to display a drop down under the search bar. This would provide suggestions on what the user was about to search for.
Google Dewey Update: There were some people who spotted changes in search results but again not much has been known about this update. Matt Cutts asked Webmaster Tools for feedback on these changes but suspicions arose and some thought that Google was implementing its own properties.
Google Buffy Update: This update was named after Vanessa Fox as she was leaving Google at the time. The actual details of this update are not known. But Matt Cutts mentioned that some adjustments have been made.
Google Universal Search Update: The search results were changed on how they were displayed. Added were news, images, videos and other relevant content from the search query.
Google Supplemental Update: With the supplemental update it changed the way the pages were filtered out. So having good quality links ensured that they were in the main index. There were rumours that this update was a de-indexing update, but Google quickly confirmed that this was not the case.
Google Big Daddy Update: This was a new indexing and crawlings system as they introduced new features like URL canonicalisation and redirects. This update took around 2-3 months to complete and de-indexing was happening on low quality webpages.
Google Jagger Update: The Jagger updated is targeted towards Spam and is focused on poor quality reciprocal and paid links. Link farms have also been penalised. This was eventually released around October.
Google Local Maps Update: This is when Google merged their Map data with the Local Business Centre and focusing on a local search. Eventually this will drive Local SEO Functions in the near future.
Google Gilligan Update: Also known as the false update. All SEO’s started to notice changes in their rankings but a Google representative mentioned that they were making small changes all the time. Also, that PageRank and Backlink data had been updated too. This would be shown to the public once every 3 months via an update.
Google Personalised Search Update: This enabled users by providing the most relevant results to each search query. It started by collecting some data from the user’s search history. This made individuals searches more personalised.
Google XML Sitemaps: The XML Sitemaps is where Google let webmasters submit an XML sitemap using the webmaster tools and the traditional HTML sitemaps became not as important.
Google Bourbon Update: The Bourbon update didn’t have much details regarding what it was but it potentially was down to search quality. Others speculated that it had something to do with non canonical URLS and duplicate content.
Google Allegra Update: The actual details of this update were unclear and some said the the update was an implementation of LSI. Then some said it was penalising those suspicious sites.
Google NoFollow Update: This was an update to defend the site from spams and low quality links. Yahoo, Microsoft and Google all joined together and provided support to the ‘NoFollow’ update to prevent spammy forum and blog comments.
Google Brandy Update: Google’s indexes increased quite quickly after this update. Google started to understand synonyms better along with contextual meanings. The keyword analysis reach a new level with an advent of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).
Google Austin Update: Austin is an updated version of Florida is continued to penalize deceptive tactics such as META Stuffing & invisible text.
Florida Update: Google updated its algorithm which was a game changer. SEO techniques such as keyword stuffing were not relevant no longer. There was also a lot of business which crashed after the update. The update was to prevent spam and it employed AI to better understand the context on a web page.
Google Supplemental Index Update: This is where Google created the supplemental index to store some document which seemed unimportant. The intention was to increase the number of documents being indexed without compromising on quality. PageRank technology was used to filter out those pages to a secondary index.
Google Fritz Update: Now Google started to index on a daily basis which lead to new fresh result and rankings.
Google Esmeralda Update: This was the end of Google’s monthly updates and marked the start of regular updates. It also had some major infrastructure changes.
Google Dominic Update: This was a major change on how Google crawled and analyzed backlinks. It was named after a pizza restaurant in Boston.
Google Cassandra Update: This is where Google started to monitor for hidden links and texts along with co-owned domains. Here is where websites with incorrect link building were caught out.
Google Boston Update: This was the first update from Google to which a name was given to an update and was launched in SES Boston. It was combined with a variety of algorithm updates with a major index update. This was the start of many index updates to come and this was the cause of the fluctuating rankings which became known as ‘Google Dance’.
The Documented Algorithm Change: This change was Google’s first algorithm change that was publically announced. However it did see a decline in quality of search results from Google and it received plenty of criticism from webmasters.
The Google Toolbar Update: The first of Google’s updates started on 11th December 2000. This is when google launched a browser toolbar and provided users with highly relevant, fast and effective search results. This included results from every page on the internet even tho the website didn’t have a search engine.
The nett result of all of these changes allows Google to deliver the best possible results to the searcher. In most cases this means that the user won’t have to scroll through page upon page of search results to find the information that they are looking for.
Keeping abreast of algorithm updates is an integral part of effective SEO. If you are not careful you could easily find that your rankings suddenly drop – without any prior warning.
For most businesses they find that partnering with a reliable SEO provide makes perfect sense. They don’t have to get bogged down in the world of search engine mystique and can spend quality time actually running and managing their business.
If you would like to know more, talk to Voova Digital today!