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Google SEO Algorithm Update History

Complete Google SEO Algorithm Update History

2019 Updates

 

Site Diversity Update — June 6, 2019

Confirmed

Google pre-announced a “site diversity” update, claiming it would improve situations where sites had more than two organic listings. Moz data showed that, while the update did marginally improve SERPs with 3-5 duplicate sites on page one, the impact was relatively small.

June 2019 Core Update — June 3, 2019

Confirmed

Google pre-announced a “core” update, but with limited details. Sites impacted in previous core updates seem to have been affected, in some cases, and some major UK publishers reported heavy losses. On average, the impact was smaller than the August “Medic” update, as measured by MozCast.

Indexing Bugs — May 23, 2019

Confirmed

Two days in a row, Google confirmed indexing bugs. The first bug reportedly was preventing new content from being properly indexed. MozCast confirmed unusually high SERP flux from May 23-25 (peaking on the 23rd), but it’s unclear if this was directly related to the bugs.

 

De-indexing Bug — April 5, 2019

Confirmed

A bug has been reported to have dropped pages from the search index around April 5th and the next consecutive days. There has been a drop on 5th and 7th of April, with about 4% of stable URLs falling off the page one. Most sites were recovered soon after.

 

March 2019 Core Update — March 12, 2019

Confirmed

Google has confirmed the third major core update since they started using the label of “core” updates. The specific details about the nature of the update are still unknown. Mozcast, the Google Algorithm Weather The report hit a peak of 101.2°F, A bit below the temperature of March 1st.

 

2018 Updates

“Medic” Core Update — August 1, 2018

Confirmed

The “broad core algorithm update” has been reported of massive impact and Google has confirmed the same. The effect has been rolled out about a week but peaked on August 1-2. This update has disproportionately affected the sites in all the verticals majorly affecting the health and wellness verticals.

 

Chrome Security Warnings (Full Site) — July 24, 2018

Confirmed

During the past months, there have been warnings on the unsecured (non-HTTPS) forms, now Chrome 68 began marking sited to be “non-secure” if they are non-HTTPS. The changes came into effect on July 24 but rely on users installing the latest chrome version.

 

Mobile Speed Update — July 9, 2018

Confirmed 

Google implemented the mobile page speed update six months after announcing it. They made the page speed a ranking factor for mobile results. But it is claimed that this change only affected the slowest mobile sites without any major mobile ranking shifts.

 

Video Carousels — June 14, 2018

Confirmed

Google has changed the videos from organic-like results with thumbnails to dedicated video carousel. This caused a shake-up in results which were tracked organic previously. At the same time, there had been a significant increase in the number of SERPs with videos.

 

Snippet Length Drop — May 13, 2018

Confirmed

Google went back to having the former length limit (150-160 characters) of snippets after testing the longer display snippets up to 300+ characters.

 

Unnamed Core Update — April 17, 2018

Confirmed

A heavy algorithm flux was detected and that peaked on April 17, continued for over a week. Google then confirmed it to be a “core” update but no further details or specifications were provided by the Google or the SEO community.

 

Mobile-First Index Roll-out — March 26, 2018

Confirmed 

The mobile-first index was finally out according to the announcement of Google.  It suggested that the index migrates the sites gradually after being in testing for many months. But the impact of this specific roll-out is unclear, Webmasters will be able to see the notifications within the Google Search Console.

 

Zero-result SERP Test — March 14, 2018

Confirmed 

Google engine started displaying zero organic results and “Show all results” button. This was done on a set of Knowledge cards including unit conversion calculators and show time/date queries. Google stopped the test after a week but it is believed that this is an important sign of things to come.

 

“Brackets” Core Update — March 8, 2018

Confirmed 

In spite of Google confirming a “core” update on 7th March, volatility spiked on March 4th, with a second spike on 8th March and that continued for two weeks. This may have been the result of one prolonged, rolling update or multiple updates. Glenn Gabe coined the term “Brackets” and no further details are provided by Google.

 

2017 Updates

Snippet Length Increase — November 30, 2017

Confirmed 

Google included the longer search snippets in a large number of results after testing them for two years. The new Meta Description limit rose up to 300 characters from the earlier 155 characters. Google confirmed the same and how the snippets are handled but no other details were provided.

 

Chrome Security Warnings (Forms) — October 17, 2017

Confirmed 

Google started warning the visitors to site with non-HTTPS forms with the launch of Chrome 62. This may not be an algorithm update but an important step in Google’s push towards the HTTPS and may have a considerable impact on site traffic.

 

Google Jobs — June 20, 2017

Confirmed

The job portal of Google including a stand-alone 3-pack of job listing in the search result was officially launched. The results of Google jobs organized data from all the major providers like the LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster and CareerBuilder.

 

Unnamed Update — February 6, 2017

Confirmed

Google Algorithm has changed by the beginning of February 1st and continued for the whole week, peaking around 6th February. Industry case studies and webmaster chatter suggests that these were individual events.

 

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty — January 10, 2017

Confirmed

Google started to put forth a penalty to punish the pop-ups and aggressive interstitials that potentially damage the mobile user experience. The warning was also given by Google five months prior to the update. Many SEOs have reported minimal impact on sites that should have been affected.

 

2016 Updates

Penguin 4.0, Phase 1 — September 27, 2016

Confirmed

The first phase of Penguin 4.0 was the rollout of the new gentler version of the Penguin algorithm and it was launched around 22-23. It devalues the bad links instead of penalizing sites. The exact timeline is not confirmed, but we assume that the rollout took at least a few days to fully update and it might have corresponded to an algorithm temperature spike on September 27th.

 

Penguin 4.0 Announcement  —  September 23, 2016

Confirmed

Google announced a major Penguin update after waiting for almost two years. The new Penguin is suggested to be real-time and baked into “core” algorithm. The initial impact assessments were smaller but it was later found that the Penguin 4.0 rollout was unusually long and multi-phase.

 

Mobile-friendly 2  —  May 12, 2016

Confirmed

Following the original “mobile friendly” update, Google introduced another ranking signal boost after nearly a year to benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. The impact of this update was small as most sites were already mobile friendly.

 

AdWords Shake-up  —  February 23, 2016

Confirmed

AdWords had undergone major changes. Google removed the right column ads and rolled out 4-ad top blocks on many commercial searches. This was a paid search update and it had impacted the CTR for both organic and paid results. The impact is mostly on competitive keywords.

 

2015 Updates

RankBrain*  —  October 26, 2015

Confirmed

The major announcement of Google revealed that machine learning had been a part of the algorithm for many months and that it had contributed as the third most influential ranking factor. The date mentioned above is the announcement date, the actual launch date was close to spring 2015.

RankBrain is a machine based learning artificial intelligence (AI) system, that helps Google to process search queries and provide more relevant search results to its users. The system has a self-learning ability to help you suggest the kind of content that you are looking for. According to Google, RankBrain has become the third most important signal that is sent into the Google algorithm which is currently known as “Humming Bird”.

 

Panda 4.2 (#28) — July 17, 2015

Confirmed

A data refresh update called the Panda update was announced and it was said that it could take months for it to be fully rolled out. There were no clear signs of a major update of algorithm and immediate impact.

 

The Quality Update — May 3, 2015

Confirmed

Google confirmed a core algorithm change that impacted the quality signals. These changes originally dubbed “Phantom 2” and the update had a broad impact but Google hadn’t revealed any specifications on the nature of the signals involved.

 

Mobile Update AKA “Mobilegeddon” — April 22, 2015

Confirmed

Google pre-announced an algorithm update which is a pretty rare move and told that the mobile rankings would differ taking mobile-friendly sites into consideration stating on April 21st. This had a short term impact which was smaller than expected. The algorithm flux seemed to have peaked on April 22nd.

 

2014 Updates

Pigeon Expands (UK, CA, AU) — December 22, 2014

Confirmed

The original update of Google’s major local algorithm update which dubbed “Pigeon” hit the United States in July 2014. Google has expanded that to the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The update was rolled out on 19th July and confirmed by 22nd July.

 

Penguin Everflux  —  December 10, 2014

Confirmed

Instead of having infrequent major updates, Penguin had shifted to having continuous updates as per Google. The exact timeline is still unclear and the claim had seemed to fit the flux experienced after Penguin 3.0.

 

Pirate 2.0  —  October 21, 2014

Confirmed

Google launched Pirate 2.0 update after nearly two years of launching the original Pirate update. This update is to combat digital media piracy and software. This was a highly targeted update and caused dramatic drops in ranking.

 

Penguin 3.0  —  October 17, 2014

Confirmed

Google had launched a Penguin refresh after a year of launching the Penguin update (2.1). This update was not a new Penguin algorithm but data-only and it was smaller than expected. Google confirmed that the update was spread out over some weeks.

 

“In The News” Box  —  October 1, 2014

Confirmed

Google had changed the display of News-box results and later it was announced that those changes had expanded news links to much larger sets of potential sites. Major news sites had reported significant traffic changes and the presence of news results in the SERPs had also spiked.

 

Panda 4.1 (#27)  —  September 23, 2014

Confirmed

Google confirmed a significant Panda update and that it included an algorithmic component. The impact estimated was that 3-5% of queries to be affected. The exact timing of the update was unclear because of the slow rollout.

 

Authorship Removed  —  August 28, 2014

Confirmed

Following the drop of authorship photos on June 28th, Google was set to remove the authorship mark-up. As said, by the next morning, we faced the disappearance of authorship by-lines from all SERPs.

 

HTTPS/SSL Update  —  August 6, 2014

Confirmed

Google announced that the preference would be given to secure sites and provide them lightweight rankings boost by adding encryption. It was claimed that this boost would start small but eventually have greater changes if results are positive.

 

Pigeon  —  July 24, 2014

Confirmed

The local SEO was shook by the Google update that altered some local results dramatically and interprets location cues. Google claimed that closer ties had been created between the core algorithm and the local algorithm.

 

Authorship Photo Drop  —  June 28, 2014

Confirmed

The announcement of John Mueller came out surprising as all the authorship photos from SERPs were to be removed. After the announcement on 25th June, the drop was completed around 28th June.

 

Payday Loan 3.0  —  June 12, 2014

Confirmed

Google launched another major update less than a month after the anti-spam update of Payday Loan 2.0. Official statements claimed that 2.0 targeted some specific sites, while 3.0 entirely targeted spam queries.

 

Panda 4.0 (#26)  —  May 19, 2014

Confirmed

Google announced a major Panda update that most probably included both an algorithm update and data refresh. Officially, the impact affected about 7.5% of English-language queries. Matt Cutts said that it began rolling out on 20th May but it seems like that the effect was seen much earlier.

 

Payday Loan 2.0  —  May 16, 2014

Confirmed

Google updated it’s “payday loan” algorithm prior to Panda 4.0 and it mostly targeted spam queries. We are unclear about the exact date of the roll-out but Google said that it’s happened the weekend before 20th May. It involved some back-to-back updates which had difficult details to sort out.

 

Page Layout #3  —  February 6, 2014

Confirmed

Google confirmed on refreshing their page layout algorithm which is also called as “top heavy”. Originally it was launched on January 2012 and the page layout algorithm was said to penalize sites with too many ads above the fold.

 

2013 Updates

Penguin 2.1 (#5)  —  October 4, 2013

Confirmed

Google had launched another Penguin update after a gap of four and a half months. This was probably supposed to be a data update given the 2.1 designations, and not to cause a major change to the existing Penguin algorithm. The overall impact of the update seemed to be moderate, although there are some webmasters who reported to being hit hard.

 

Hummingbird  —  August 20, 2013

Confirmed

Google suggested that the “Hummingbird” update was introduced about a month earlier than the announced date which was on September 26th. The best guess is that it was rolled out on 21st or 22nd August. Caffeine was the comparison to Hummingbird and it seemed to be a core algorithm update powered changes to Knowledge Graph and the semantic search for months to come.

 

In-depth Articles  —  August 6, 2013

Confirmed

Google added “in-depth articles” which were dedicated to more evergreen and long-form content and it was a new type of news result. It included links to three articles during the launch and it was said to have appeared across about 3% of the searches.

 

Panda Recovery  —  July 18, 2013

Confirmed

Panda update was confirmed by Google, but there was no clarity that if it was one of the 10-day rolling updates or if it was something new. It was implied that it was algorithmic and would have softened some of the previous Panda penalties.

 

Multi-Week Update  —  June 27, 2013

Confirmed

Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted a reply considering a “multi-week” algorithm update roughly between the week after July 4th and June 12th. We are unclear on the nature of the update, but massive rankings were disrupted during the time period, and it seemed to be peaking on June 27th. Google may have been testing some changes during that time and later they might have been rolled back.

 

“Payday Loan” Update  —  June 11, 2013

Confirmed

Google had announced a targeted algorithm update that can take on the niches with notoriously spamming results, specifically those that mention porn and payday loans. On June 11th, the update was announced. But Matt Cutts claimed that it would be rolled out over a 1-2 month period.

 

Penguin 2.0 (#4)  —  May 22, 2013

Confirmed

Speculating about bordering on the hype for about months, the 4th Penguin update had arrived with just a moderate impact. Some evidence suggested that Penguin 2.0 was more targeted to the page level but the exact nature of the changes were unclear.

 

Domain Crowding  —  May 21, 2013

Confirmed

Google had released an update which can control the domain crowding and diversity deep in the SERPs. The timing of this update was unclear, but it had rolled out just prior to Penguin 2.0 in The US and probably on the same day internationally.

 

Panda #24  —  January 22, 2013

Confirmed

The first official update of Google was announced in 2013, and it claimed 1.2% of the queries to be affected. This did not appear to be related to the talk of an update around 17th and 18th Jan.

 

2012 Updates

Panda #23  —  December 21, 2012

Confirmed

Google rolled out another Panda update right before the Christmas holiday. They officially called it “refresh” which impacted 1.3% of the English queries. This impact was slightly higher than the Pandas #21 and #22.

 

Knowledge Graph Expansion  —  December 4, 2012

Confirmed

Google had added the Knowledge Graph functionality to all the non-English queries, including French, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Japanese, Italian and Russian. This update added enhanced KG capabilities and it was more than just translation.

 

Panda #22  —  November 21, 2012

Confirmed

After giving some mixed signals, Google had confirmed about the 22nd Panda update, which appeared to have been not an algorithm change but data-only. This came on around November 19th but remained unnamed update.

 

Panda #21  —  November 5, 2012

Confirmed

Google had finally rolled out their 21st Panda update which was roughly five and a half weeks after Panda #20 update. This update officially impacted 1.1% of English queries and was reported to be smaller.

 

Page Layout #2  —  October 9, 2012

Confirmed

Google confirmed an update to change its original page layout algorithm back in January and it targeted the pages that had too many ads above the fold. We are still not clear if that was a Panda-style data refresh or an algorithm change.

 

Penguin #3  —  October 5, 2012

Confirmed

Google launched a minor Penguin data update after suggesting that the next Penguin update would be a major one. It impacted 0.3% of the queries. The 3rd Penguin update numbering was rebooted and it was similar to Panda.

 

August/September 65-Pack  —  October 4, 2012

Confirmed

Google had published the monthly list of their search highlights. The 65 updates of August and September had included Knowledge Graph expansion, 7-result SERPs, updates on how the page quality was calculated, and the changes to how local results were being determined.

 

Panda #20  —  September 27, 2012

Confirmed

A fairly major Panda update that overlapped the EMD update had rolled out and it officially affected 2.4% of the queries. As the 3X series was getting old, industry sources had opted to start naming the Panda updates in a particular order.

 

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update  —  September 27, 2012

Confirmed

Google had changed the way in which it handled the exact-match domains (EMDs). This, in turn, led to large-scale devaluation and it reduced the presence of EMDs in a reliable data set by over 10%. The change seemed to impact 0.6% of queries.

 

Panda 3.9.2 (#19)  —  September 18, 2012

Confirmed

Another Panda refresh was rolled out and it appeared to be data-only. There was a moderate impact on ranking flux but not so close to the large-scale algorithm update.

 

Panda 3.9.1 (#18)  —  August 20, 2012

Confirmed

Google set out another Panda update whose impact seemed to be relatively small and nature was data-only. Having run out of numbers at 3.9, the Panda 3.0 series dubbed 3.9.1 to be the new update.

 

June/July 86-Pack  —  August 10, 2012

Confirmed

The June and July Search Quality Highlights were released after a summer hiatus, in one mega-post. Important updates comprised of the Panda algorithm and data refreshes, a ranking boost for the trusted sources, an improved rank-ordering function, and changes to the site clustering.

 

DMCA Penalty (“Pirate”)  —  August 10, 2012

Confirmed

It was announced by Google that they will start to penalize sites with repeated copyright violations which will probably happen via DMCA takedown requests. It was supposed to start the following week of 13th August.

 

Panda 3.9 (#17)  —  July 24, 2012

Confirmed

Google implemented a new Panda update a month after Panda 3.8. Rankings fluctuated for 5-6 days, but no single day stood out to be claimed as the date of highest fluctuation. The impact as per Google is that ~1% of queries were affected.

 

Panda 3.8 (#16)  —  June 25, 2012

Confirmed

The Panda data refresh was introduced by Google, but it was data only with no algorithm changes which had a very small impact than Panda 3.7.

 

Panda 3.7 (#15)  —  June 8, 2012

Confirmed

With less than 1% of queries claimed to be under effect, Google pulled off yet another Panda data update. The impact was considerably higher than previous Panda updates as suggested by the rankings fluctuation.

 

May 39-Pack  —  June 7, 2012

Confirmed

Google released 39 updates in May as a part of its monthly Search Highlights. Significant changes included the Penguin improvements, changes to snippet/metadata rewriting, updates to Google News, and better link-scheme detection.

 

Penguin 1.1 (#2)  —  May 25, 2012

Confirmed

After the “Penguin” algorithm update, Google released its first targeted data update. This update confirmed that the Penguin data, like the Panda data, was getting processed outside of the main search index.

 

Knowledge Graph  —  May 16, 2012

Confirmed

Google released the “Knowledge Graph” as a step towards semantic search, which was a SERP-integrated display that provided supplemental object regarding certain people, things and places. Over time, it is expected to see “knowledge panels” appearing on several SERPs.

 

April 52-Pack  —  May 4, 2012

Confirmed

The details of 52 updates were established in April, and it included the changes that were tied to the “Penguin” update. There were other highlights which included a number of updates to site links and a fifteen percent larger “base” index that improved pagination handling.

 

Panda 3.6 (#14)  —  April 27, 2012

Confirmed

Google released yet another Panda data update nearly a week after Panda 3.5. The impact of the update was relatively small and the implications were seemed unclear.

 

Penguin  —  April 24, 2012

Confirmed

Speculating about an “Over-optimization penalty” for some weeks, Google finally released the “Webspam Update”. This was soon after dubbed “Penguin”. Penguin had adjusted a number of spam factors which included the keyword stuffing and seemed to have impacted an estimated 3.1% of the English queries.

 

Panda 3.5 (#13)  —  April 19, 2012

Confirmed

Google quietly released a Panda data update in the middle of a busy week for the algorithm. It made a mix of changes which made it difficult to measure the impact. But it appeared to have been a routine update which had minimal impact.

 

Parked Domain Bug  —  April 16, 2012

Confirmed

Google had confirmed that a data error caused some domains to be mistakenly treated as parked domains after a number of webmasters reported the ranking shuffles that happened. It was not an algorithm change that was intended to happen.

 

March 50-Pack  —  April 3, 2012

Confirmed

Google had posted a batch of update highlights which covered almost 50 changes in March. These included the changes to anchor-text “scoring”, confirmation of Panda 3.4, changes to how queries that work with local intent are interpreted and updates to Google image search.

 

Panda 3.4 (#12)  —  March 23, 2012

Confirmed

This time Google had announced another Panda update via Twitter as the update was being released. It is estimated that Panda 3.4 had impacted about 1.6% of the search results.

 

Venice  —  February 27, 2012

Confirmed

Google mentioned a code-name “Venice” as part of their monthly update. This local update appeared to have more aggressively localized the organic results and integrated the local search data more tightly. We are still unclear on the exact roll-out date.

 

February 40-Pack (2)  —  February 27, 2012

Confirmed

At the end of the month, Google had published a second set of “search quality highlights” and claimed to have more than 40 changes in February. The notable changes comprised of multiple image-search updates, a Panda update, and multiple freshness updates.

 

Panda 3.3 (#11)  —  February 27, 2012

Confirmed

Google released another post-“flux” Panda update and this appeared to be a relatively minor one. This came out 3 days after the Panda’s 1st year anniversary. It seemed to have an unprecedented lifespan for a named update.

 

February 17-Pack  —  February 3, 2012

Confirmed

Google rolled out another 17 “search quality highlights”. Many of these were related to speed, spell-checking and freshness. But there was one major announcement that put the tighter integration of the Panda into the main search index.

 

Ads Above The Fold  —  January 19, 2012

Confirmed

Google had updated their page layout algorithms to devalue the sites which had too much ad-space above the “fold 0”. A similar factor was in play in Panda as per the previous suspicion. There was no official name for the update, but it was referred to as “Top Heavy” by some SEOs.

 

Panda 3.2 (#10)  —  January 18, 2012

Confirmed

Although the algorithm hasn’t changed, Google confirmed a Panda data update. It was still unclear as to how this had fit into the “Panda Flux” scheme which is of more frequent data updates.

 

Search + Your World  —  January 10, 2012

Confirmed

Google confirmed a radical shift in personalization which aggressively pushed Google+ user profiles and social data into SERPs. Google had also added a prominent and new toggle button to switch off personalization.

 

January 30-Pack  —  January 5, 2012

Confirmed

Over the previous month, Google had announced 30 changes that included the image search landing-page quality detection, more rich snippets, more relevant site-links, and related-query improvements. This had blurred the line between an algorithm update and a feature.

 

2011 Updates

December 10-Pack  —  December 1, 2011

Confirmed

Google confirmed a set of 10 updates and announced that these posts would arrive every month. Updates that were included are – parked domain detection, related query refinements, image search freshness, and blog search freshness. We are unclear on the exact dates of each update.

 

Panda 3.1 (#9)  —  November 18, 2011

Confirmed

Google entered a period of “Panda Flux” after Panda 2.5, frequent minor updates happened. Even though there was no official 3.0, the 11/18 update was called the 3.1 by the industry analysts. We will discontinue numbering the Panda updates except for those with very high-impact for the purposes of this history.

 

10-Pack of Updates  —  November 14, 2011

Confirmed

To become transparent, Matt Cutts had released a post which included the 10 recent algorithm updates. It was a bit unusual. The timeline of the updates was unclear and most were small updates. This did signal a shift about how Google had communicated its algorithm changes.

 

Freshness Update  —  November 3, 2011

Confirmed

According to Google, an algorithm change that rewarded freshness would have an impact up to 35% of the queries. This update majorly affected the time-sensitive results, but later signalled a much stronger impact on recent content.

 

Query Encryption  —  October 18, 2011

Confirmed

Google had announced that they would encrypt the search queries for privacy reasons. This disrupted the organic keyword referral data, unfortunately. It returned “not provided” for some organic traffic. This number had increased in the weeks that followed the launch.

 

Panda “Flux” (#8)  —  October 5, 2011

Confirmed

Matt Cutts had tweeted us to expect some Panda-related flux in the upcoming few weeks. He also gave a figure of approximately 2%. There were other minor Panda updates that occurred on 10/13, 10/3, and 11/18.

 

Panda 2.5 (#7)  —  September 28, 2011

Confirmed

Google released another Panda update after more than a month. It is unclear on the specific details of what had changed, but large-scale losses were reported by some sites.

 

516 Algo Updates  —  September 21, 2011

Confirmed

This was an amazing revelation and not an update. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO had told Congress that Google had made nearly 516 updates in 2010. The real shocker is that they tested over 13,000 updates.

 

Pagination Elements  —  September 15, 2011

Confirmed

Google introduced the rel=”prev” and rel=”next” link attributes to help fix problems like crawl and duplication that was created by pagination. Google also made an announcement that they improved the automatic canonicalization and consolidation for the “View All” pages.

 

Expanded Sitelinks  —  August 16, 2011

Confirmed

Google officially released the expanded site-links after experimenting for a while mostly for the brand queries. These were 12-packs at first but Google had limited the expanded site-links to 6 after the release.

 

Panda 2.4 (#6)  —  August 12, 2011

Confirmed

Google had internationally rolled out Panda, both for English-language queries and the non-English queries except for Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. The impact affected 6-9% of queries in affected countries according to Google.

 

Panda 2.3 (#5)  —  July 23, 2011

Confirmed

Google rolled out yet another update according to Webmaster chatter. We are not sure whether any new factors were introduced, or it was simply an update to Panda ranking and data factors.

 

Google+  —  June 28, 2011

Confirmed

Google rolled out a serious attack on Facebook with Google+ after a number of social media failures. Google+ revolved around the circles for sharing content, and it was tightly integrated into some products like Gmail. Many Early adopters were quick and within 2 weeks Google+ had reached 10million users.

 

Panda 2.2 (#4)  —  June 21, 2011

Confirmed

Google continued to update the Panda-impacted data and sites which led to the official acknowledgment of version 2.2. Panda updates took place separately from the main index and had not occurred in real-time.

 

Schema.org  —  June 2, 2011

Confirmed

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo jointly announced to support a consolidated approach towards structured data. In an apparent bid to move toward even richer search results, they also had created a number of new schemas.

 

Panda 2.1 (#3)  —  May 9, 2011

Confirmed

Google appeared to release yet another round of changes which was initially dubbed “Panda 3.0”. Google hadn’t discussed these changes in detail and it seemed to be a relatively minor one.

 

Panda 2.0 (#2)  —  April 11, 2011

Confirmed

Google confirmed the Panda update to be available to all English queries worldwide. New signals were also integrated and it included the data about the sites where users were blocked via the Chrome browser or the SERPs directly.

 

The +1 Button  —  March 30, 2011

Confirmed

In response to the competition by major social sites, like Twitter and Facebook, Google launched the +1 button which was placed directly next to results links. Clicking it allowed the users to influence the search results within the user’s social circle, among both paid and organic results.

 

Panda/Farmer  —  February 23, 2011

Confirmed

A major algorithm update affected up to 12% of search results and hit sites hard. Panda seemed to crack down on content farms, thin content, a number of other quality issues and the sites with high ad-to-content ratios. Panda was released over at least a couple of months and hit Europe in April 2011.

 

Attribution Update  —  January 28, 2011

Confirmed

Google released an update to help sort out content attribution better and stop scrapers in response to high-profile spam cases. This affected about 2% of queries according to Matt Cutts. It was a clear precursor to the upcoming Panda updates.

 

2010 Updates

Negative Reviews  —  December 1, 2010

Confirmed

Google made a rare move after an expose in the New York Times about how an e-commerce site, DecorMyEyes ranked based on negative reviews. It reactively adjusted the algorithm to target the sites which use similar tactics.

 

Instant Previews  —  November 1, 2010

Confirmed

On Google search results, a magnifying glass icon appeared that allowed the search visitors to quickly view a preview of the landing pages directly from SERPs. This established a renewed focus for Google on landing page design, usability, and quality.

 

Google Instant  —  September 1, 2010

Confirmed

Google Instant was launched by displaying the search results as a query was being typed thereby expanding on Google Suggest. SEOs spontaneously combusted, but later realized that the impact was fairly small.

 

Caffeine (Rollout)  —  June 1, 2010

Confirmed

Google finished establishing the Caffeine infrastructure after months of testing. Caffeine did not only boost Google’s raw speed but also integrated the indexation and crawling much more tightly which resulted in a 50% fresher index.

 

May Day  —  May 1, 2010

Confirmed

Webmasters noticed significant drops in their long-tail traffic in late April and early May. Matt Cutts later confirmed that the algorithm change, May Day was the one impacting the long-tail. Sites which had a large-scale thin content were especially hit hard, foreshadowing the Panda update.

 

Google Places  —  April 1, 2010

Confirmed

“Places” pages were originally only a part of Google Maps even though they were rolled out in September of 2009. The official launch of Google Places had re-branded the Local Business Center. It integrated the Places pages more closely with the local search results, including new local advertising options, and added a number of features.

 

2009 Updates

Real-time Search  —  December 1, 2009

Confirmed

The real-time search was meant for real- Google News, Twitter feeds, newly indexed content, and a number of other sources that were integrated into a real-time feed on some SERPs this time. Sources had continued to expand over time and it including social media.

 

Rel-canonical Tag  —  February 1, 2009

Confirmed

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft had jointly announced support for the Canonical Tag that allowed the webmasters to send canonicalization signals to search the bots without affecting human visitors.

 

2008 Updates

Google Suggest  —  August 1, 2008

Confirmed

Google introduced Suggest in a major change to their logo-and-a-box home page that displayed the suggested searches in a dropdown which is below the search box as the visitors’ type in their queries. Suggest was later supposed to go and power Google Instant.

 

Dewey  —  April 1, 2008

Confirmed

At the end of March and into early April a large-scale shuffle had occurred, but the specifics of it were unclear. Google was suspected to have been pushing its own internal properties, including Google Books, but there was not enough evidence of that.

 

2007 Updates

Universal Search  —  May 1, 2007

Confirmed

Google integrated the traditional search results with Video, News, Local, Images, and other verticals that dramatically change their format while not being a typical algorithm update. The old 10 listing SERP was now officially dead.

 

2005 Updates

Big Daddy  —  December 1, 2005

Confirmed

An infrastructure update, Big Daddy was released over a few months, wrapping up in March of 2006. Big Daddy had changed the way in which Google handled the URL redirects, canonicalization, and other technical issues.

 

Google Local/Maps  —  October 1, 2005

Confirmed

Google merged its Maps data into the LBC after launching the Local Business Center in March 2005 and it encouraged businesses to update their information. This was held in a move that would eventually cause a number of changes in local SEO.

 

Jagger  —  October 1, 2005

Confirmed

Google had released a series of updates which mostly targeted the low-quality links that included the reciprocal links, paid links, and link farms. Jagger was released in at least 3 stages, from around September to November of 2005. This had the greatest impact during October.

 

XML Sitemaps  —  June 1, 2005

Confirmed

Bypassing the traditional HTML sitemaps, and giving the SEOs a direct influence over indexation and crawling, Google allowed the webmasters to submit XML sitemaps via Webmaster Tools.

 

Personalized Search  —  June 1, 2005

Confirmed

The 2005 roll-out of personalized the search got in directly into the users’ search histories and automatically adjust results unlike the previous attempts at personalization that required custom settings and profiles. The impact was small at first but Google continued to go on to use our search history for many applications.

 

Bourbon  —  May 1, 2005

Confirmed

Matt Cutts announced that Google was releasing the 3.5 changes in search quality. It wasn’t sure what the 0.5 of a change was, but the Webmaster World members predicted that the Bourbon changed how non-canonical (www vs. non-www) URLs and duplicate content were treated.

 

Nofollow  —  January 1, 2005

Confirmed

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo collectively introduced the “Nofollow” attribute to combat the spam and control outbound link quality. Nofollow helped to clean up the untouched for links, that included spammed blog comments. This change gradually had a significant impact on the link graph and it was not a traditional update.

 

2004 Updates

Brandy  —  February 1, 2004

Confirmed

Google announced a variety of changes that even included a massive index expansion, the concept of link “neighborhoods”, increased attention to anchor text relevance, and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). LSI had expanded Google’s ability to understand synonyms and had taken the keyword analysis to the next level.

 

2003 Updates

Florida  —  November 1, 2003

Confirmed

This was the update that put SEO industry updates on the map. Many sites had lost their ranking, and the business owners were furious. Florida fell for low-value late 90s SEO tactics that included keyword stuffing which made the game a whole lot more interesting.

 

Fritz  —  July 1, 2003

Confirmed

The “Fritz” update finally marked the end of the monthly “Google Dance”. Google switched to an incremental approach instead of overhauling the index on a monthly basis. The index had changed daily.

 

Boston  —  February 1, 2003

Confirmed

This was the first named Google update and was announced at SES Boston. Google aimed at a major monthly update originally. So the first few updates were a combination of major algorithm changes and index refreshes. As updates had become more frequent, the monthly idea died quickly.

 

2000 Updates

Google Toolbar  —  December 1, 2000

Confirmed

Google launched its browser toolbar guaranteeing that the SEO arguments will take years to come, and with it, Toolbar PageRank (TBPR). The Google Dance began as soon as webmasters started watching TBPR.

16 thoughts on “Complete Google SEO Algorithm Update History

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