Google Algorithm Change History



Welcome to Google Algorithm Change History!

Ask any SEO professional or SEO agency who offer SEO Services, and they will tell you, it is pivotal to know the Google Algorithm Change History and to keep up with the Google updates.  Google performs updates to its search engine algorithm on a regular basis.  It is this algorithm that is the driving force behind where a particular blog post, website, will rank in a search engine result.  Google wants to learn about new traffic patterns, figure out what is the best way to give its users the results it wants.  To do this, the updates are necessary. 

Understanding the full Google Algorithm Change History is vital.  To grasp where Google may go in the future, it is likely that they will rely on the past to an extent.  Some changes that Google has made over the years have been repeats of things they did a decade ago, just refreshed.  Get into the details when it comes to Google algorithm updates, and you will be rewarded with a renewed understanding of what and why they change things. Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History! Continue on after this image!

google penguin Google Algorithm Change History

Minor Update October 2017

Evelyn Kao, product manager at Google, published a post about making search results more local and relevant on 27th October 2017. Its not a huge update but it shows how the Google Algorithm is growing and focusing more on the needs of the user. This is now evident in the Google Chrome browser also. 1 in 5 searches are location based, this small update will help improve the search experience based on location and context.

2017 Updates – Introducing Fred

The year 2017 brought the name Fred to the Google algorithm scene.  The search engine optimization industry took notice as Google Fred began to roll out around the middle of March of this year.  

The origination of the name “Fred” was from Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illness.  What Google did with this update was not entirely clear at first, but in generality, it was something that people took notice of very quickly.  The target of the Fred update was to go after what Google saw as low-value content for users.  It also targeted sites that abused ads, as well as affiliate links.  Places that were not representative of industry experts were also hit with the update.Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History!

How Google Fred Impacted Website Owners who were abusing their visitors with too much advertising

Google’s Fred Update Taking on Sites Focused on Revenue, Not Users

Google got a lot smarter in 2017 and put more of a focus on ranking content higher when it was of more top quality, not just because it hit the keywords and generated the proper amount of traffic.  If you had a site that produced high quality, expert-driven content, you were okay.  Many sites reported massive drops in traffic as a result of Fred rolling out though.

There were a few other updates that Google did roll out in 2017.  They both came in February of 2017 but had no official announcements that went with them.  The crust of both of the changes that occurred in February of 2017 was to focus on discounting backlinks, as well as sites that produced a lot of spam content.  

Google Update May be Better at Discounting Links and Spam (SEL)
The Impact of Google’s Update on Core Rankings (GSQi)

In January of 2017, Google also made one other algorithm update that took a lot of shots at sites that had intrusive pop-ups.  If you had a site that had pop-ups that were being intrusive to the user experience, this Google update essentially targeted your content so that it would be valued much lower in the search engine rankings.

Mobile Popups Update (ManagedSEO)
Google Rolling Out Mobile Penalty (SER)

2016 Updates – Penguin Time

In September of 2016, Google announced a change to its algorithm that was known as Penguin 4.  The Google Penguin 4 announcement brought with it come changes to the algorithm for the search engine giant.  What the crux of it revolved around was that the core algorithm for Google would be able to update in real time, meaning no downtime at all, no batch update.  It could be updated in one shot at any point necessary.  Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History!

The Google Penguin 4 update was also going to be more granular, or page specific, regarding the way that it would rank pages.  Instead of an entire domain or website being penalised for poor quality content, just individual pages would.
Penguin 4 Official Announcement (Google Webmaster Central)

More updates came in that same month in 2016 with new tools that began to detect high SERP fluctuations.  Local searches were believed to get a boost in the rankings.

Is a big Google search update happening? (SEL)
Google downplays the algorithm ranking update this week as “normal fluctuations” (SEL)

In May of 2016, another update came that also helped in the mobile space.  Boosts were given to sites that were mobile friendly with mobile search results.  With the growth of mobile, people browsing the web on their smartphones, mobile capabilities became more critical than ever before.

Continuing to make the web more mobile friendly (Google)

A change came to Adwords as well in 2016, removing sidebar ads in the search results.  Instead of the sidebar adds, what they did was attach the 4th ad to the top block.  

Google Adwords Shake Up (ManagedSEO)
Google AdWords Switching to 4 Ads on Top, None on Sidebar

To begin the year 2016, a core algorithm update was released, but it was never known exactly what it impacted from a search engine result perspective.  Users never indeed reported considerable losses in ranking results.

Google Core Ranking Update (SER)

2015 Update – Panda, Zombie, Snack Packs

The month of October 2015 saw a few different updates that came through in the form of algorithm changes for Google.  On October 26, 2015, Google announced what it’s as calling the Rank Brain algorithm update.  This was going to improve artificial intelligence in the way that the search engine was to read content.  Also in October, a few weeks before the Rank Brain update, was the Google Zombie update, with users reporting fluctuations in traffic as a result. Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History!

RankBrand & Artificial Intelligence? (Bloomberg)

Google Zombie Update? (SER)

A Google Snack Pack update was released in August of 2015, and it marked the entry of a new design for local.  The standard seven pack (map) was changed to a three pack.  Local search engine results were altered as a result of the change in the search engine.

Google Local Snack Pack Shakeup (Moz)

In July what everyone was able to see was the Panda 4.2 update make its way into the world.  This was not the release of the Panda 4.2 algorithm update but was instead just the announcement.  It would take a while before it saw the light of day.

Everything We Know About Panda 4.2 (SEM Post)

In May of 2015, there were some quality updates that went out as part of the algorithm updates for the search engine.    What many called this update was the Phantom 2 update.  Google never announced it beforehand, and all that was said about it was that it was focused on quality signals.  Everything else about the update remains a bit of a mystery to this day.

The Quality Update (SEL)

In April 2015, more focus was placed on mobile sites in the search engine rankings.  Google made a change to the algorithm to promote results and the way they ranked on mobile devices, rewarding mobile-friendly sites.  Those that were not mobile friendly were demoted.
Google: Mobile Friendly Update (SEL)

One more update happened in February 2015, as detected by a few SERP tools.  No one was able ever to pinpoint what the algorithm change was though.

Google Update Feb 2015 (SER)

2014 Updates – Panda and Penguin

The Penguin 3 Google algorithm update made its debut on October 18, 2014.  This came after a year since the last major Penguin update.  Once it started to roll out, the fears that many had the impact it would have on search engine results began to go away a bit.  Left than 1% of all US English Queries on the search engine were effected over the roll-out, which took a few weeks worth of time.  This compared to past Penguin updates that had a much more significant impact on search engine results. Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History!

Google Releases Penguin 3.0 (SEL)
Google Confirms Penguin 3.0 Update (SEJ)
Penguin Update Official (Google)

Panda 4.1 was released a bit earlier in September 2014.  It had an impact on 3% to 5% of all queries on the search engine, a substantial amount to say the least.  Google was able to build out Panda 4.1 to try to increase its intelligence in how to spot quality content.  The goal for Google here was to pick out the stuff that was low quality so that it could precisely and accurately demote that type of material.  High quality small to medium sized sites ranked higher when this rolled out.

Panda 4.1 — Google’s 27th Panda Update — Is Rolling Out (SEL)

Google took a swing at the private blog networks in September 2014 as well.  What they did here was to de-index public blog networks.  There was the word out that Google had been doing it for years, but this was a hit on private, as well as semi-private networks.  

No Hat Digital: PBN Sites De-Indexed, How Bad Were We Hit?
ViperChill: Why I’ll Keep Growing My Private Link Network After Google’s “Crackdown”
Niche Pursuits: Alright Google, You Win…I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again!
Source Wave: The Death of PBNS

In August 2014, you were no longer able to figure out who the author was of a specific piece of content on Google.  Google dropped authorship photos a bit before this, but it was at this point where they remove all authorship information entirely from its search engine results.

It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results (SEL)
Official Announcement

Also in August of 2014, sites that used SSL were able to get a minor boost in the search engine rankings.  It was so slight that not a lot of people paid much attention, but it was a factor that did help some website owners looking to get their content more visibility.

Google Starts Giving A Ranking Boost To Secure HTTPS/SSL Sites

July of 2015 brought the Google Pigeon update.  This as an update to its local search algorithm.  The goal with this was to include more signals from the traditional search like knowledge graph, spell correction, synonyms, as well as a bit more.  Google began to blend seven pack rankings with organic factors with this update.  Domain authority of the organic site linked to the Google Local page would help with seven pack rankings.  

June 2014 was when the photos of authors no longer appeared in the SERPs for results.  If there was an author, all that was there at this time was that there was the name of the author.  As we stated above, this went away as time went by.

Google Announces End of Author Photos (Moz)

Panda 4.0 was the latest addition to the Panda update family, and it came on May 19, 2014.  This was an update that did not have as big if an impact as was initially expected.  Sites did get a boost though, especially those that took a hit by prior Panda updated by Google.  Around May 16, 2014, a similar update came out as well that targeted queries that were traditionally spam in the arena of search engine optimization.

Official Announcement
Google Begins Rolling Panda 4.0 Out Now (SEL)
Panda 4 (Moz)

Learn more about Google Panda (MANAGEDSEO)
The Answers to Google’s 2014 First Algorithm Update (Search Highway) – Relevant
Panda 4 + 5 Steps To Avoid Any Penalty (Source-Wave)
Press releases took a big hit in visibility

Official Announcement

Sites that had a lot of ads were hit in February 2014 with an update by Google to its algorithm.  Those that managed to fly under the radar or under with excessive ads were caught with this update, and their rankings were reduced as a direct result of that.

Did Google Do An Algorithm Update Yesterday? (SERT)

Official Announcement

Two other unofficial updates came in March, as well as January of 2014.  There was no word as to what the update was, but there were trackers that were reporting massive fluctuations at the time, meaning that Google was undoubtedly up to something and tweaking the algorithm, even just by a bit.

Is Google Search Updating? January 8th & 9th (SER)

The Answers to Google’s 2014 First Algorithm Update (Search Highway)

2013 Updates – Penguin, Hummingbird, and More

The year 2013 brought a variety of different updates to the Google algorithm, just as all other years have.  Starting at the end of the year and working backward, December 19, 2013, brought a change to the way that authorship was handled with the Google search engine.  What Google did here was that they did not factor in authorship as much into the rankings.  Who wrote the piece was not as important any longer in a search engine ranking a site higher or lower.  Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History!

Authorshipocalypse! The Great Google Authorship Purge Has Begun (Virante)

Google HummingBird Changes the SEO Game – AGAIN!

December 17 and November 14, 2013, also brought two other Google algorithm updates.  There was no official release, though, as to what these updates were all about. Algorithm change trackers did pick up on the alterations though, so something happened during this time.  Maybe it was a prelude of what was to come with Panda 4.0 later in 2014?

Google Denies A Major Update On December 17th (SEL)

Was There a November 14th Google Update? (Moz)

Another minor update to the Google algorithm came on October 4, 2013.  It was known as the Penguin 2.1 update and was just a small change/update to the Penguin algorithm.  More refinement than anything else, nothing genuinely notable that had a significant impact on search engine results.

Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm, Is Now Live (SEL)

It is time to talk about Hummingbird!  This was the big Google algorithm update for the year 2013 and was announced on September 26, 2013.  It was an update that changed a lot of how Google ranked sites.  The interpretation of text was made far more advanced for the search engine, meaning that it could begin to read and understand the quality of content better versus just backlinks and keywords.

Google Reveals “Hummingbird” Search Algorithm (SEL)

On August 6, 2013, Google introduced a new type of content to their search engine results.  They called them in-depth articles.  The search engine worked to pick up long articles that covered a topic from front to back, providing a lot of quality results for users and high ratings for sites that prioritized these pieces.

How To Appear in Google’s In Depth Articles Feature

Two updates came in July, one on July 26th that did not have a name and was not a confirmed update by Google, but got the activity trackers on search engine tracking tools going.  The other was the expansion of the Google Knowledge Graph, and it came on July 19th.  

Was There A Weekend Google Update? (SER)

Some tweaking to the Panda update came in July as well, as Google did some fine tuning here for a pretty soft search engine algorithm update across the board.  It took a whole week and a half for Google roll this out across the search engine for everyone.

The Day the Knowledge Graph Exploded (Moz)

Confirmed: Google Panda Update: The “Softer” Panda Algorithm (SER)

More Panda updates came throughout June, with tweaks made to how sites ranked on the search engine over the entire 10-day period that the roll-out happened.  

Twitter Thread
Multi-Week Update Rolling Out (SER)

A fascinating update to the Google algorithm came on June 11, 2013.  Google announced what was to be an update to the algorithm that specifically targeted queries that are typically going to be littered with spam for search engine optimization purposes.  The two categories that were hit hardest here included content on payday loans, as well as porn.

Google’s Panda Dance: Matt Cutts Confirms Panda Rolls Out Monthly Over 10 Of 30 Days (SEL)

Google Payday Loan Algorithm: Google Search Algorithm Update To Target Spammy Queries (SEL)

Penguin 2.0 came on May 22, 2013.  This was the 4th iteration of the Penguin algorithm update, and it had an impact on over 2% of all queries of the search engine in English.  

Penguin 4 Live (SERT)
Official Announcement

Google found that there was one domain taking up a lot of real estate in many search engine queries and they wanted to tweak that.  An attempt to diversify search engine results came with a May 21, 2013, update to the algorithm.  

Google’s Matt Cutts: Domain Clustering To Change Again; Fewer Results From Same Domain

One other change came on May 9, 2013, but no Google announcement came with it, and little impact was felt.

Large Google Update Happening Now (SER)

Panda update 24 came in January, while Panda update number 25 arrived in March.  Over 1% of all search engine queries in English were impacted by the changes that occurred from these updates, with tweaking to how the algorithm worked.

Google Panda Update 25 Seems To Have Hit (SEL)

Google Panda Update Version #24; 1.2% Of Search Queries Impacted (SEL)

2012 Updates – The Panda Updates Never Stop

The year of 2012 brought a lot more updates and tweaks to the Google search engine.  Panda update 23 hit in December, on the 21st to be exact, of 2012.  Right before the holidays, they put out the update that had an impact on 1.3% of all queries in English on the search engine. Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History!

Official: It’s Google Panda Update 23, Impacting ~1.3% Of Queries

Another Google Knowledge Graph expansion came on December 4, 2012.  With this update and development, it became available on foreign language queries.  Users began to see it with languages of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, saw ell as Italian.

Official Announcement

Panda update 22 came in November, right before Thanksgiving.  This was a refresh of the algorithm, making minor tweaks that had an impact on 0.8% of all queries on Google.

Official Google Panda #22 Update: November 21 (SER)

Learn more about Google Panda (MANAGEDSEO)

Panda update 21 came right before that on November 5, 2012, impacting 1.1% of English queries.  The details of how these two Panda updates impacted search engine result is not very clear, but the impact was indeed noteworthy. Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History!

Google Releases Panda Update 21 (SEL)

Learn more about Google Panda (MANAGEDSEO)

The month of October of 2012 brought of few different updates.  On October 9, 2012, an update came out to the page layout.  This had an impact on the way that sites had their designs established.  When sites had too many ads that were considered to be above the fold, on top of their content, they are negatively impacted in search engine rankings.  The Penguin 3 algorithm update dame right before that on October 5, 2012, precluded by an update pack on October 4, 2012, as well.  The October 4 update was known as the update pack with 65 changes that went live all at once to Panda, the Knowledge Graph, and more.

It’s “Top Heavy 2? As Google Rolls Out Update To Its Page Layout Algorithm (SEL)

Google Released 3rd Penguin Update: Not Jarring Or Jolting (SER)

Official Announcement

On September 27, 2012, two updates went live including a Panda 20 update, as well as an exact match domain rollout.  What happened with the accurate match domain rollout was that Google threw a hit to domains that were bought individually for search engine ranking results.  For example, if you were a dentist and you had dentist.com as your domain, Google used to rank you higher due to the domain alone.  This update changed that so it was more focused on the content than anything else.

Google’s EMD Algo Update – Early Data (Moz)
Deconstructing the EMD update (SEL)

Google Panda Update 20 Released, 2.4% Of English Queries Impacted (SEL)

Two Panda updates came in August and September of 2012.  The Panda 3.9.1 update occurred on August 20, while Panda 3.9.2 happened on September 18th.  The September update was said to have an impact on 0.7% of all queries on the search engine, while the August update was even more minor than that.

Google Rolls Out Panda 3.9.2 Refresh (SER)

Confirmed: Google Panda 3.9.1 Update (SER)

August brought three updates to the Google search engine.  On August 14, Google started displaying only seven results on the front page of roughly 18% of all of the queries on the search engine.  This was a significant change as it limited the number of results that would be on the initial page of search engine queries.  Earlier in August another update that went out took a shot at sites that were accused of copyright infringement.  This was a way for the site to hit the pirate community to try and demote then in the rankings.  86 updates rolled out as well from One through July, with the final update coming on August 10th.  This included updates to Panda, the Knowledge Graph, and more.

Google Showing Fewer Results & More From Same Domain

An update to our search algorithms (Official Announcement)
The Pirate Update: Google Will Penalize Sites Repeatedly Accused Of Copyright Infringement (SEL)

Search quality highlights: 86 changes for June and July (Official Announcement)

July 2012 brought two updates with Panda 3.9 coming on July 24, 2012.  Google pushed out this Panda refresh that was said to have an impact on roughly 1% of all queries of the search engine.  Another update came on July 19, 2012.  This was a grouping of webmaster tool link warnings.  Webmasters were alerted to pay attention to these warnings so that their sites were not dropped from the search engine.

Official: Google Panda 3.9 Refresh (SER)

Insanity: Google Sends New Link Warnings, Then Says You Can Ignore Them (SEL)

Panda 3.8 and Panda 3.7 both dropped in June, with two refreshed.  June 7, 2012, was the more significant date in Google algorithm history here with 39 changes coming including improvements to Penguin, as well as an improved manner for the search engine to apply inorganic backlink signals.

Official Google Panda Update Version 3.8 On June 25th (SEL)

Official Announcement
Confirmed: Google Panda 3.7 Update (SER)

Search quality highlights: 39 changes for May (Official Announcement)
Google’s May Updates: Inorganic Backlinks, Page Titles, Fresh Results & More (SEL)

May 25th brought the first update to Penguin with the Penguin 1.1 rollout.  The other two updates that came included a 52 pack of changes to the Google search engine in early May, followed by an update to the Knowledge Graph that came a bit later in the month.  The 52 pack of changes included a boost for fresh, high-quality content, an increase in the base index, and more.

Understanding Penguin 1.1: Be Safe from Updates in 3 Easy Steps (SEJ)

Cool Knowledge Graph Video
Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings (Official Announcement)

April 2012 was a big month for Google, and it ended with an update to Panda that did not do a lot.  The major release was the one that ultimately rocked the search engine optimization community, that being Google Penguin.  Google Penguin was officially released on April 24, 2012.  It hit sites hard that used too many fact match anchors, and had a direct impact on 3.1% of all English queries.  Google Penguin is still around today and continues to be updated and tweaked.  The other updates in April included another Panda refresh mid-month, as well as a change to the way Google classified parked domains, which came on April 16th.  The month also included a pack of 50 Google updates  that had an impact on the way anchor text was calculated, how image search functioned, as well as rolling out Panda 3.4

Search quality highlights: 52 changes for April (Official Update)

Confirmed: Panda Update 3.6 Happened On April 27th (SEL)

Another step to reward high-quality sites (Official Announcement)
Google Launches “Penguin Update” Targeting Webspam In Search Results (SEL)
What Google Penguin means to your website

Panda Update 3.5 Is Live: Winners & Losers (SEL)

Google Parked Domain Classifier Error Blamed for Lost Search Rankings

Search quality highlights: 50 changes for March (Official Announcement)

Google Says Panda 3.4 Is ‘Rolling Out Now’ (SEL)

February of 2012 included the release of a Panda refresh known as Panda 3.3.  A 40 pack of updates from the search engine also launched on February 27, 2012, the same day as Panda 3.3.  It included updates to how site links were ranked, UI elements, indexing, synonyms, SafeSearch, and more.  That same day brought what was known as the Venice update.  What happened with this update was a boost for local sites based on the geography of the person searching.  For example, if you search for a car dealer in Google with just the keyword car dealer, the results will be based on your local region more than anything.

Google Confirms Panda 3.3 Update (SEL)

Search quality highlights: 40 changes for February (Official Post)

Understand and Rock the Google Venice Update (SEOmoz)

17 search quality highlights: January (Official)
Google’s January Search Update: Panda In The Pipelines, Fresher Results, Date Detection & More (SEL)

January of 2012 brought a pack of updates to Google, 17 of them in total including Panda being integrated into the main algorithm of the search engine.  A Google page layout update came on January 19, 2012, impacting sites with too many ads above content.  Panda 3.2 hit on January 18, 2012.

Page layout algorithm improvement (Google)

Google Panda 3.2 Update Confirmed (SEL)

Early January saw an attempt by Google to try and boost usage of their social media platform Google +.  What they did was to put in more relevant content in your searches if you used the platform.  

Search, plus Your World (Google)
Video
Real-Life Examples Of How Google’s “Search Plus” Pushes Google+ Over Relevancy (SEL)

30 search quality highlights – with codenames! (Google)

2011 Updates – Refinements and Panda

The year of 2011 ended for Google on December 1 regarding updates to the algorithm and changes to the way the search engine functioned.  10 Google updates in total were released on December 1, 2011.  The upgrades included a way to classify a parked domain better, to reduce the number of parked domains showing up in search engine results.  Google also introduced the functionality known as autocomplete, as well as refreshing the image search to show the newest stuff. This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

Search quality highlights: new monthly series on algorithm changes (Official Update)

November of 2011 for Google included a Panda 3.1 refresh on November 18, 2011.  Another ten update pack came on November 14, 2011, as well.  It included updates that improved the way snippets were handled, as well as to allow for users to see the freshest results possible on the search engine.  A similar update came out on November 3, 2011, again focused on updating and changing the algorithm to allow for Google to display fresher results.  

Google Panda 3.1 Update: 11/18 (SER)

Ten recent algorithm changes (Google)
Improved Snippets, Rank Boost For “Official” Pages Among 10 New Google Algorithm Changes (SEL)

Giving you fresher, more recent search results (Google)

October had a few different updates that Google brought to the table.  The most notable is how Google began to encrypt data.  The release, October 18, 2011, came with Google starting to encrypt data when users were signed into the Google platform, for privacy reasons.  This was a big problem for search engine optimization professionals, as it made it nearly impossible to figure out where organic traffic was being targeted from.  One other update came in the month, and it was the 8th update to Panda on October 5, 2011.  This had an impact on less than 2% of search engine queries, so nothing major, but still impactful.

Making search more secure (Official Update)
Google Hides Search Referral Data with New SSL Implementation (SEOmoz)

Learn more about Google Panda

Panda 2.5 came in September with a release on September 28, 2011.  Right before this release was the update to the algorithm in the way that pagination was handled.  To help with pagination crawl and index issues, they introduced link attributes.

Google Panda 2.5: Losers Include Today Show, The Next Web; Winners Include YouTube, Fox News: (SEL)

Pagination with rel=“next” and rel=“prev” (Official)

August 16, 2011, brought an expansion of the display of site links, making the way that users navigated to particular content much more accessible.  Panda also went international in August with the Panda 2.4 update.  On August 12, 2011, Panda was around the world, outside of the United States for the first time.

The evolution of sitelinks: expanded and improved (Google)

High-quality sites algorithm launched in additional languages (Google)
Official: Google Panda 2.4 Rolls Out to Most Languages (SER)

July 2011 was a little month for Google, one of the lowest of the last 5-years regarding updates with just the Panda 2.3 release happening, nothing more than that.

Official: Google Panda 2.3 Update Is Live (SEL)

June was an entirely different story on June 28, 2011, marked the launch of Google +.  Google + was the Facebook competitor that Google wanted to bring to the table and try to personalize the experience users had with the search engine.  Also on June 21, 2011, Panda 2.2 update went live, along with the adoption of a standardized markup of data known as schema.org.

Official: Google Panda Update 2.2 Is Live (SEL)

Google, Bing & Yahoo Unite To Make Search Listings Richer Through Structured Data (SEL)

April and May for Google in 2011 were also quiet, likely because of the build-up for Google + that was coming later in the year.  Panda 2.0 launched on April 11, 2011, with Panda 2.1, the update to the 2.0 launch, happening on May 9, 2011.  The Panda 2.0 release is notable as it marked a significant upgrade to the way Google ranked high-quality sites at the time.

It’s Panda Update 2.1, Not Panda 3.0, Google Says (SEL)

High-quality sites algorithm goes global, incorporates user feedback (Official Update

March 30, 2011, brought new functionality to the UI of Google for users with the +1 button.  This was similar to the Facebook “like” button but specific for search results.  Users could click the button to certify that the content is of high quality and is recommended.

+1’s: the right recommendations right when you want them—in your search results (Official Google Update)

The big bang of 2011 came on February 23, 2011, with Panda.  The other name for the update was known as Farmer at the time, but Panda is what it is known as today.  This had an impact on 12% of all search engine results on Google.  The target here was content farms, sites that were huge an full of content, but all of the content was unfortunately low quality.  Sites with the large ad to content ratios and over optimization were also hit with this update. 

Google’s Farmer/Panda Update: Analysis of Winners vs. Losers (SEOmoz) 

January of 2011 brought at the update to stop scrapers from being able to steal content.  The impact was minimal, less than 2% of search queries were hit, but it is noteworthy.  In January 2011 Google also started to name drop sites and how they used search engine optimization.  This included an attack by Google on both J.C. Penney, as well as Overstock.  The search engine rankings took a hit as a result for these sites.

Algorithm Change Launched (Matt Cutts)

Google Penalizes Overstock for Search Tactics (WSJ)
Overstock.com Lands in Google’s Penalty Box Over Links-for-Discounts Deal (SEW)
New York Times Exposes J.C. Penney Link Scheme That Causes Plummeting Rankings in Google (SEL)

2010 Updates – Welcome Social

The year of 2010 brought much more changes to the Google algorithm, but the most noteworthy were the impact that social media began to have on search engine rankings.  Google and Bing confirmed that they started to use social signals as a way to influence the way that things were ranked on the search engines.  This included looking at both Twitter, as well as Facebook.  The release for this came in December 2010. This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

What Social Signals Do Google & Bing Really Count? (SEL)

December 2010 also brought a big fix to Google regarding the way that user reviews were handled.  A story broke in December 2010 that even if a brand received negative reviews, those reviews still helped the search engine ranking.  Google put out an update to the algorithm to correct the issue.

A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web (NY Times)

Being bad to your customers is bad for business (Google)

November of 2010 saw an update that allowed you to get a visual preview of a website within the search results.  Though this was not an update that lasted for very long, as it was quickly reversed, it was new functionality added to the search engine for a period.

Beyond Instant Results: Instant Previews (Google)

Also in September of 2010, Google introduced another piece of functionality that was known as Google Instant.  This was a way for the search engine to start to show results, even as the query for the results was still being run.  A piece of the results would show, while the query finished, as it was added to over a period of seconds.

About Google Instant (Google)
Google Instant: Fewer Changes to SEO than the Average Algo Update (SEOmoz)

The summer for Google in 2010 saw a few updates as well.  One notable update had a significant impact on brands in August of 2010.  With this update, some brands and domains were allowed to have multiple items on a page of particular searches.  The limit was seemingly endless, as the results could include up to eight or more on one page of Google search engine results from one query alone.

Google Search Results Dominated By One Domain (SEL)

Google also put out a new web indexing system in the summer of 2010, June specifically.  This web indexing system allowed Google to speed up the rate at which that it indexed websites.  The goal here was to enable users to get much fresher results, getting things back to users quickly after they hit the Internet. 

Our new search index: Caffeine (Google)
Google’s New Indexing Infrastructure “Caffeine” Now Live (SEL) 

Content farms took a hit as a result of an update in May 2010.  It came from April 28 through May 3 as the update began to be rolled out.  Content farms were downgraded in search engine results with this update.  Many saw this as a precursor to what was to come with the Google Panda update.

Video: Google’s Matt Cutts On May Day Update (SER)

Google Places was introduced with an update in April of 2010 as well.  Within the Google world, this used to be known as the Google Local Business Center.  It had all of the same features that were there with the old name, so it mainly a branding update.  There were some new features, including advertising, service area, as well as a couple of other items.

Introducing Google Places (Official)
Google Local Business Center Becomes “Google Places” (SEL)

2009 Updates – Real-Time Search

The last quarter of 2009 for the search engine giant Google was all about introducing the world to what is now known as real-time search.  The idea here is that as soon as stuff was posted to the Internet, it would be immediately indexed by the Google search engine and be available in search results.  Have you ever used the site Google News before?  Real-time search is what makes Google News possible.  Newly indexed content, as well as feeds from Twitter and Facebook, all started to be shown in Google search engine results.  This helped social media sites immensely as the content that made it on there was available on Google right away. This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

Google Launches Real Time Search Results (SEL)

A preview of what was to come in 2010 was also seen in August 2009 with the Caffeine update.  This was a preview of a significant change that was to come from Google.  The goal here with Caffeine was to make things faster and more significant.  Enlarging the entire index of Google as well as speeding up how quickly that the search engine was able to crawl sites, looking for new content.  As soon as the material was found, it would be ready to be added and ranked immediately.  The preview lasted from August 2009 until the end of the year before being pulled in favor of the actual release in 2010.

Google Caffeine: A Detailed Test of the New Google (Mashable)
Help test some next-generation infrastructure (Google)

The winter of 2009 saw two updates to the Google search engine.  One was a part of the Canonical Tag support campaign that was being pushed not only by Google but Microsoft and Yahoo as well.  The goal here was to allow canonicalization signals to be sent by the webmaster without any impact on the way that a user would interact.  The second update in February 2009 was a way for Google to focus more on big brands, helping a brand like Coca-Cola rank higher in search engine results.

Learn about the Canonical Link Element in 5 minutes (MattCutts.com)
Canonical URL Tag – The Most Important Advancement in SEO Practices Since Sitemaps (SEOmoz)

Big Brands – Google Brand Promotion: New Search Engine Rankings Place Heavy Emphasis on Branding (SEO Book)
Google’s Vince Update Produces Big Brand Rankings; Google Calls It A Trust “Change” (SEL)

2008 Updates – Suggest

The year 2008 was not as big as Google as more recent years, but this was at the cusp of when things started to accelerate at a rapid pace for the search engine giant.  The big update in 2008 came in the form of Google Suggest.  The Suggest feature that was added to the search engine would make a significant change to the way that the homepage of Google looked.  As you began to type in a search, what the Suggest functionality would do is to show a new menu below and try to guess what the visitor of the site is typing in.  Do you know what Google Instant is today?  This was the precursor to precisely that!

Google.com Finally Gets Google Suggest Feature (SEL)

One other update came in the year 2008, and it was known as the Dewey update.  There is still not a lot known as to what exactly happened as a result of the update, but it is the belief that Google internal properties were actually and purposefully downgraded in rankings due to its rollout.

Google’s Cutts Asking for Feedback on March/April ’08 Update (SERoundtable)

2007 Updates – Buffy Time

Vanessa Fox was leaving Google in the year 2007, and they decided to name their big update that year Buffy as a result.  What the Buffy update was all about was not one significant bang change, but a bunch of smaller changes and refinements to the way that the search engine did its indexing, crawling, and so on.  It is believed that this was a lot of foundational work for what was to come in more recent years as they approached 2010 and beyond. This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

Google “Buffy” Update – June Google.com Update (SERoundtable)
SMX Seattle wrap-up (MattCutts.com)

Do you remember when Google showed just ten results on its search engine results page?  That went away in May 2007 with a new update to the search results page. What this algorithm update did was to integrate regular search results with those of News, Images, Video, Local, and more.  The idea here was to bring everything together on one page for the user.  If you wanted to find a News story, you no longer had to go to Google News directly.  Instead, you could go to Google and see the news story that way.

Google 2.0: Google Universal Search (SEL)

2006 Updates – No Major Release

There was a lot of talk throughout the entire year of 2006 about some massive changes that were to be coming to the search engine.  Many thought that Google was planning to do a serious overhaul to the way that Google did rankings, indexing, crawling, everything in-between.  The rumors started to pick up steam in the early part of 2006 and got rolling at a rapid pace all summer long.  What happened, was that no significant release ever came about!  Google never actually reported any changes to the search engine and nothing happened in November of December 2006, as was expected.

Google Update Debunked By Matt Cutts (SERoundtable)

The other update that did happen in 2006 was a change to supplemental indexing.  The way that the filtering of pages was being done by Google was turned on its head with this update.  Many sites reported that they were penalized as a result of this particular update rolling out.

Confusion Over Google’s Supplemental Index (SERoundtable)

2005 Updates – Maps and More Speed

The year 2005 was a busy one, probably the most active of this particular decade for the search engine giant.  In December 2005, Big Daddy was released by Google.  This was a significant change to the infrastructure and had many of the same goals that Caffeine managed to accomplish in later years.  It rolled out over a period of one quarter of the year and had the purpose of making everything faster from an indexing perspective. This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

Indexing timeline (MattCutts.com)
Todd, Greg & Matt Cutts on WebMasterRadio (SEOmoz)

October 2005 saw a series of updates that were known as Jagger.  The aim for Google here was pretty direct as they honed right in on low-quality links and content.  They went after reciprocal links, paid links, as well as link farms.  From September through October 2005 they worked diligently with these Jagger updates to demote these links in search engine results.

A Review Of The Jagger 2 Update (SERoundtable)
Dealing With Consequences of Jagger Update (WMW)

Also in October was an update to the Google Local Business Center.  They took all of the data that they had in their Maps application and put it into Local Business Center.  Once this was done, they asked all businesses to update their information for Google so that they could be indexed and more accurate represented at the local level with results.

Google Merges Local and Maps Products (Google)

Gilligan was the big update in September 2015.  Though Google never actually stated what the change was, many search engine optimization professionals noticed that the way that data was indexed rapidly changed.

Google’s Cutts Says Not An Update – I Say An Update, Just Not A Dance (SEW)
What’s an update? (MattCutts.com)

Personalized search rolled out in June 2005.  Google would look at your history, what type of sites you usually visited, and help you build a profile with the search engine so that the results could be more catered to what your interests were.

Google Relaunches Personal Search – This Time, It Really Is Personal (SEW)
Search gets personal (Google)

You could submit XML sitemaps for the first time in June 2005 with the introduction of this functionality to Webmaster Tools.  Search engine optimization experts had much less influence over how indexing and crawling happened due to this change, as HTML sitemaps were replaced for the new XML sitemaps.

New “Google Sitemaps” Web Page Feed Program (SEW)

The Bourbon update came a bit earlier in 2005 and was an update that was focused on trying to get high-quality content in Google highlighted.  This was done by targeting duplicative content, with the same content appearing over multiple links and in the same search engine ranking results. Welcome to the Google Algorithm Change History!

Google Update “Bourbon” (Batelle Media)
Bourbon Update Survival Kit (SERoundtable)

The Allegra update came in February 2005.  Though the update had no definite information associated with it, the belief is that Google began to penalize sites that had links that look suspicious regarding the quality of their content or their intended purpose.

January 2005 saw an update that was rolled out by Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft all at the same time.  What this was is still to this day known as the “nofollow” update.  It was to combat spam and try to go against outbound link quality.  

Google, Yahoo, MSN Unite On Support For Nofollow Attribute For Links (SEW)

2004 Updates – IPO Time

The initial public offering (IPO) for Google took place in August 2004.  This was not an update to the algorithm but spoke volumes to where Google wanted to go in the future.  19 million shares were sold in total, bringing in $1.67 billion and putting the market value of the company over $20 billion.  For those that were able to buy in early, shares more than doubled very quickly. This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

Google IPO priced at $85 a share (CNN)

The first quarter of 2004 saw an update that was known as Brandy.  This allowed Google to focus more on anchor text in links for indexing purposes.  Google also boosted the way it was able to analyze keyword usage to represent them accurately in search engine results.

Google’s Brandy Update Exposed (WebProNews:)
How To Beat Google’s “Brandy” Update (SitePoint)

Austin was the other update in January of 2004, and it was a fix to a late 2003 update, which we will get to next.  This was a way for Google to penalize invisible text and META-tag stuffing by sites.  

The latest on update Austin (Google’s January update) (SEJ)
Google Update Austin: Google Update Florida Again (Search-Marketing.info)

2003 Updates – Florida

The November 2003 update that is known as Florida was the first time that search engine optimization became a thing.  Google put an end to keyword tactics from the 1990s that were still working to this day.  Keyword stuffing went away, and low-value links were cleared off of search engine results for Google entirely.  

What Happened To My Site On Google? (SEW)

A supplemental index update went in place in September 2003 as well, allowing Google index more documents while also maintaining the search engine’s expected level of performance for the user experience.

Search Engine Size Wars & Google’s Supplemental Results (SEW)

July 2003 saw the Fritz update, which allowed Google to update the way that it did indexing from incremental to daily.  The Google index changed the very day from this point forward.

Explaining algorithm updates and data refreshes (Matt Cutts)
Exclusive: How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web (Wired)

April, May, as well as June 2003,  saw updates, one month at a time.  June had an update that was known as Esmeralda and was a change to the structure for Google.  Dominic happened in May, which began counting backlinks for the first time and also crawling sites with a bit more depth.  In April it was all about Cassandra, allowing for Google to link from co-domains, finding hidden texts and links, etc.  This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

Google Update Esmeralda (Kuro5hin)

Understanding Dominic – Part 2 (WMW)

Google – Update “Cassandra” is here (Econsultancy)

February 2003 was notable as it was the first time that Google had an update with an actual name.  The named Google update was Boston, and it was the first of major monthly released by the search engine.  Algorithm changes, along with a refresh of the index is what came here.

2002 Updates – First of Its Kind

2002 saw the first documented update from Google.  It happened in September, and it was the first time Google put out an update and started to give details about what it was doing.  It did not have a name, though, as that was held over for the following February with Boston.

September, 2002 Google Update Discussion – Part 1 (WMW)
Dancing The Google Dance (Level343)

2000 Updates – Toolbar

The year 2000 saw the introduction of the Google Toolbar.  This started the whole search engine optimisation game with the toolbar coming for web browsers, as well as the Toolbar PageRank.   This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

Google Launches The Google Toolbar (Google)

Over the last 17-years, we have seen a lot regarding updates to the Google algorithm.  The wheel never stops turning with the search engine giant and keeping up with the latest and greatest news is always a priority to ensure you are one step ahead with what Google is doing!

Here starts the Google Algorithm Change History – backward!

This articles starts from the bottom of this page and goes upward to the most current information. This is the Google Algorithm Change History!

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The SEO Basics

The SEO Basics

Below is a small list of links which will help you in your journey into search engine success, these articles will offer insight and valuable tools to help you leverage the web to its potential.

[ How Does SEO Work | What is a Rank Tracker | Google Change History ]


The SEO Basics

The SEO Basics

Below is a small list of links which will help you in your journey into search engine success, these articles will offer insight and valuable tools to help you leverage the web to its potential.

[ How Does SEO Work | What is a Rank Tracker | Google Change History ]

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