A Timeline of Google Algorithm Updates

Google was founded in 1998. From its humble beginnings, it's become the way to find what you need on the Internet.

But Google hasn't always been the reliable source of information that it is today. It took a lot of time, energy, and work to get there. This is a complete list of Google's known updates that have turned it into the best search engine in the world.


All Updates

Updates are default in chronological order, from oldest to newest. Use the sidebar interface to search, sort, and order (desktop only)!


August 2004 — Google IPO

On August 19, 2004, Google announced that it would go public for $85/share. They sold 19 million shares, raised $1.67 billion in capital, and set their market value at over $20 billion.

http://edition.cnn.com/2004/BUSINESS/08/19/google.ipo/

June 28, 2011 — Google+ Launched

The search engine officially launched a social platform, which revolved around organizing friends into circles and sharing content. Within 2 weeks, Google+ had 10 million registered users.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/introducing-google-project-real-life.html

http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/14/larry-page-on-google-over-10-million-users-1-billion-items-shared/

September 21, 2011 — 516 Algorithm Updates

Nothing actually changed on this particular date, but Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed to Congress that Google made 516 algorithm updates in 2010. Even more impressively, they tested more than 13,000 in the same time period.

http://searchengineland.com/figz/wp-content/seloads/2011/09/Eric-Schmidt-Testimony.pdf

December 2000 — Google Toolbar

Google's free browser plugin meant that for the first time, Internet users could perform searches without going to the website of a search engine. This made searching easier than ever before, and also introduced Toolbar PageRank, or as it became known to SEOs, TBPR.

http://googlepress.blogspot.com/2000/12/google-launches-google-toolbar.html

September 2003 - Supplemental Index

Google was quickly growing and had to temporarily move some pages into a "supplemental index." Webmasters were unhappy with the change, but the supplemental pages were ultimately brought back to the main index.

http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2067049/search-engine-size-wars-googles-supplemental-results

June 2005 — Personalized search

For the first time, Google started utilizing users' search histories to provide personalized results. They explained that they would "refine your results based on your searching habits," which was alarming to some users.

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2061728/Google-Relaunches-Personal-Search-This-Time-It-Really-Is-Personal

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/06/search-gets-personal.html

October 2005 — Google Local/Maps

Following its launch of the Local Business Center in March, Google officially merged its Local and Maps data. This meant that finding information and detailed directions to local businesses was now a seamless process.

http://googlepress.blogspot.com/2005/10/google-merges-local-and-maps-products_06.html

May 2007 — Universal Search

With this update, Google started integrating News, Video, Images, Local, and other verticals into the traditional search results. This was the end of the original 10-listing SERP for many queries.

http://searchengineland.com/google-20-google-universal-search-11232

August 2008 — Google Suggest

This is when Google first started offering suggested searches as visitors began typing in the search box. The feature was launched after four years of development, and provided suggestions based on an aggregate of searches.

http://searchengineland.com/googlecom-finally-gets-google-suggest-feature-14626

August 2009 — Caffeine preview

This was just a preview of the major changes to take place in 2010, which were intended to improve the speed, accuracy, size, and comprehensiveness of Google search. Beta testers were extremely impressed with how much the new infrastructure impacted speed.

http://mashable.com/2009/08/10/google-caffeine/

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/08/help-test-some-next-generation.html

December 2009 — Real-time Search

With real-time search, results pages automatically updated with new information including tweets, Google news articles, and new pages. This only affected queries with a "real-time component," and users could stop the refreshes with a pause button.

http://searchengineland.com/google-launches-real-time-search-31355

April 2010 — Google Places

With the launch of Google Places, "Places" pages were no longer only a part of Google Maps. Instead, they were integrated with local search results, and included new local advertising options.

http://searchengineland.com/google-local-business-center-becomes-google-places-40307

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/introducing-google-places.html

June 2010 — Caffeine

Almost a year after the preview, Google officially completed the Caffeine infrastructure. This boosted their speed, integrated crawling and indexation, and resulted in a fresher index, according to Google.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/our-new-search-index-caffeine.html

http://searchengineland.com/googles-new-indexing-infrastructure-caffeine-now-live-43891

September 2010 — Google Instant

With Google Instant, search results were displayed and changed as users typed their queries. These predictions made search even faster than before, but the feature's impact on SEO was minimal.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/search-now-faster-than-speed-of-type.html

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/google-instant-behind-scenes.html

https://moz.com/blog/google-instant-fewer-changes-to-seo-than-the-average-algo-update

November 2010 — Instant Previews

added a magnifying glass icon next to search results that showed a preview of the landing page when you placed your cursor on a result. This allowed users to compare results and determine relevancy without even leaving the SERPs.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/beyond-instant-results-instant-previews.html

March 30, 2011 — The +1 Button

With the +1 button, users could "vote" for pages that they liked and influence the search results within their social circles. Many people considered this Google's response to the Facebook "like" button.

http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/+1/

http://searchengineland.com/meet-1-googles-answer-to-the-facebook-like-button-70569

June 2, 2011 — Schema.org

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft announced an alliance called schema.org, which was intended to help all three provide richer search results. The alliance provided a "common foundation of support for a set of microdata types," which helped give semantic meaning to site content.

http://searchengineland.com/schema-org-google-bing-yahoo-unite-79554

August 16, 2011 — Expanded Sitelinks

With the introduction of expanded sitelinks, links to as many as 12 internal pages within a site now showed up below the main search result. This was a shift from the original sitelink feature, which was just a single row of four links. Google also explained that their algorithm could help predict which sections of the site users wanted and adjust sitelinks accordingly.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/08/evolution-of-sitelinks-expanded-and.html

http://searchengineland.com/official-google-sitelinks-expands-to-12-pack-89555

January 10, 2012 — Search + Your World

With Search+, Google started aggressively pushing Google+ social data and user profiles into search results. They explained that they were now a search engine "that understands not only content, but also people and relationships." For users who did not want Google+ data included in search results, they also added a button to shut off personalization.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/search-plus-your-world.html

http://searchengineland.com/examples-google-search-plus-drive-facebook-twitter-crazy-107554

August 14, 2012 — 7-Result SERPs

With this shift, any SERP with expanded sitelinks for the first result would only display seven results on the first page instead of 10. This affected almost all queries that were either brand names or domain matches.

https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4485409.htm

https://moz.com/blog/serp-crowding-shrinkage-its-not-your-imagination

http://searchengineland.com/7-new-10-google-showing-fewer-results-131006

August 6, 2013 — In-depth Articles

With this feature, "in-depth articles" began to show in a sidebar for many queries. These articles were ranked based on quality and depth, and according to Google, were intended to help users who wanted to learn about broad topics instead of simply getting an answer to a quick question.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2013/08/in-depth-articles-in-search-results.html

https://moz.com/blog/inside-indepth-articles

December 19, 2013 — Authorship Shake-up

Authorship (attribution in the SERPs with a name and photo) started to disappear for about 15% of results. Many site owners initially thought that this was a penalty or an indicator that Google thought their sites were low quality, but it really just foreshadowed the eventual drop of authorship from all results.

https://moz.com/blog/googles-december-authorship-shake-up

http://angular.marketing/2013/12/19/authorshippocalypse-google-authorship-penguin-finally-appeared/

June 28, 2014 — Authorship Photo Drop

Google announced that they were dropping authorship photos from all SERPs. At this point, authorship was only denoted by a name and much less prominent.

https://moz.com/blog/bye-bye-author-pics

http://searchengineland.com/google-removes-author-photos-search-mean-195236

August 28, 2014 — Authorship Removed

Exactly a month after removing authorship photos, Google announced that they were completely removing authorship from all SERPs. As John Mueller explained, they made this change because authorship wasn't, "as useful to our users as we'd hoped, and can even distract from... results."

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JohnMueller/posts/HZf3KDP1Dm8

http://searchengineland.com/goodbye-google-authorship-201975

October 2014 — "In The News" Box

With the new "In The News" box, Google started to broaden their news sources. Unlike the results delivered with Universal Search, this news box incorporated articles from non-traditional sites, instead of only mainstream media sources.

http://searchengineland.com/googles-news-listings-beyond-traditional-205213

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-in-the-news-upset-news-publishers-19297.html

January 2005 — Nofollow

For the first time, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft introduced the "nofollow" attribute, which denoted that a site couldn't vouch for the quality or appropriateness of the linked site. This attribute was intended to help clean up link spam and control outbound link quality.

http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2062985/google-yahoo-msn-unite-on-support-for-nofollow-attribute-for-links

June 2005 — XML Sitemaps

This is when Google first allowed webmasters to submit XML sitemaps, which bypassed traditional HTML sitemaps and gave SEOs control over how their sites were crawled and indexed. Google said that this new system would help it better gather pages, and that site owners could indicate how often their pages changed and should be revisited.

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2061916/New-Google-Sitemaps-Web-Page-Feed-Program

February 2009 — Rel=canonical Tag

In a joint announcement, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo introduced the "rel=canonical" tag, which allowed webmasters to canonicalize URLs without affecting site visitors. This meant that site owners could organize content that was accessible from multiple URLs and indicate to search engines which one they preferred, which helped eliminate concerns about duplicate content.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066?rd=1

https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/canonical-link-tag/

https://moz.com/blog/canonical-url-tag-the-most-important-advancement-in-seo-practices-since-sitemaps

September 15, 2011 — Pagination Elements

Google introduced rel="next" and rel="prev" in order to help fix crawl and duplication problems created by pagination. These tags indicated the relationships between component URLs in paginated series, and allowed Google to send users to the most relevant page. Google also announced that this improved consolidation for "view all" pages.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/09/pagination-with-relnext-and-relprev.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-provides-new-options-for-paginated-content-92906

October 18, 2011 — Query Encryption

Google announced that they would start encrypting search queries for privacy reasons. They said that the shift had to do with "the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results" they delivered, and that the search experience would be different for signed in users. This encryption signaled the start of "(not provided)" for organic keyword referral data, which made SEO much more difficult.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/making-search-more-secure.html

https://moz.com/blog/google-hides-search-referral-data-with-new-ssl-implementation-emergency-whiteboard-friday

March 12, 2012 — Search Quality Video

Google published uncut footage of a December 2011 meeting on their official blog. The video showed Google employees at their weekly "Quality Launch Review" discussing proposed algorithm changes, and provided more insight into how decisions were made.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/03/video-search-quality-meeting-uncut.html

April 16, 2012 — Parked Domain Bug

A data error caused some sites to be mistaken for parked domains, which temporarily affected rankings. Google confirmed the error, and reported that it was not an intentional algorithm change.

http://searchengineland.com/dropped-in-rankings-google-mistake-over-parked-domains-118979

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-april-2012-15023.html

July 19, 2012 — Link Warnings

Following months of link warnings in Webmaster Tools, Google's Matt Cutts addressed webmasters, saying, "Don't panic." He said that most of them could safely ignore the warnings, which was contradictory to the warnings about unnatural links.

http://searchengineland.com/insanity-google-sends-new-link-warnings-then-says-you-can-ignore-them-128297

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-links-warnings-15461.html

September 2002 — First documented update

For the first time, webmasters noticed sudden changes in their rankings. There are few clear details, but it confused many SEOs and set the stage for future algorithm changes to come.

https://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/5688.htm

http://level343.com/article_archive/2011/03/14/dancing-the-google-dance-one-algo-change-two-algo-change-go/

February 2003 — Boston

This was the first announced update, and the first to receive an official name from WebmasterWorld members, which comes from the fact that it was announced at SES Boston. It was a combination of algorithm changes and major index refreshes known at the "Google Dance." At this point, Google aimed for one major monthly update.

April 2003 — Cassandra

This update was designed to address link-quality issues like linking from co-owned domains. Many WMW users also speculated that it placed more weight on older sites.

https://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/11622.htm

May 2003 — Dominic

This algorithm update changed the way that backlinks were weighed so that links from news articles and reputable sites were worth more than those from disreputable sites.

http://seocutts.blogspot.com/2013/06/dominic-update-may-2003-google-update.html

https://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/13088-1-30.htm

June 2003 — Esmeralda

This was the last regular monthly update. It replaced "Google Dance" with "Everflux" and signaled the start of a more continuous update process.

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/6/23/201523/090

July 2003 — Fritz

This was the official end of the monthly "Google Dance." Google started taking an incremental approach to updates, and the index started changing on a daily basis.

https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/explaining-algorithm-updates-and-data-refreshes/

http://www.wired.com/2010/02/ff_google_algorithm/all/1

November 2003 — Florida

This was a major algorithm update and caused an unprecedented outcry from affected site owners as many fell in rankings. They felt that the search engine was damaging their businesses, and some speculated that Google was purposely trying to boost ad sales.

Others speculated that Google was filtering out sites that exceeded an "allowable" threshold of SEO. This is closer to the truth, as the algorithm was intended to crack down on tactics like keyword stuffing.

http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2066309/what-happened-to-my-site-on-google

http://www.webworkshop.net/florida-update.html

January 2004 — Austin

This updated tackled deceptive on-page tactics like invisible text and meta tag stuffing. Some webmasters also believe that this is the first algorithm to take page relevance into account.

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/the-latest-on-update-austin-googles-january-update/237/

http://www.search-marketing.info/newsletter/articles/austin-florida.htm

February 2004 — Brandy

This update was comprised of a few different changes, including a large index expansion and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), meaning that the search engine now understood synonyms. The update also led to more attention to anchor text relevance, and the concept of "link neighborhoods."

http://www.webpronews.com/googles-brandy-update-exposed-2004-02

http://www.sitepoint.com/brandy-google-update/

February 2005 — Allegra

The effects of this update were unclear, but some speculated that it affected the Google "sandbox." Others believed that it had to do with LSI or suspicious links.

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2047678/Googles-Feb.-2005-Update

May 2005 — Bourbon

WMW regular "GoogleGuy" (believed to be Matt Cutts) announced that this update involved "3.5 changes in search quality," but did not say exactly what they were. Many believe that it targeted content scrapers and rogue link wheels, as well as how duplicate content was treated.

http://battellemedia.com/archives/2005/06/google_update_bourbon.php

https://www.seroundtable.com/archives/002130.html

September 2005 — Gilligan

Many refer to this as the "false" update since webmasters saw changes but Google claimed that no update occurred.

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2061165/Googles-Cutts-Says-Not-An-Update-I-Say-An-Update-Just-Not-A-Dance

https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/whats-an-update/

October 2005 — Jagger

This was actually a series of updates that rolled out in three stages. It targeted low-quality links, including reciprocal links, link farms, and paid links.

https://www.seroundtable.com/archives/002711.html

https://www.webmasterworld.com/forum30/32004.htm 

December 2005 — "Big Daddy"

This update was actually named by Matt Cutts, not WMW. It changed the way that Google handled URL canonicalization, redirects, and other technical issues.

https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/indexing-timeline/

https://moz.com/blog/todd-greg-matt-cutts-on-webmasterradio

November 2006 - Supplemental Update

At this point, the supplemental index was still being used, and this update changed how the pages in it were presented. Despite claims that having pages in the supplemental index was a penalty, Google said otherwise.

https://www.seroundtable.com/archives/006740.html

December 2006 — False Alarm

Webmasters reported major ranking changes in November, which many attributed to a large update, but Google claims that there were no changes.

June 2007 — Buffy

This update was described as "an accumulation of smaller changes," and was named in honor of Vanessa Fox leaving Google.

https://www.seroundtable.com/archives/013882.html

https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/smx-seattle-wrap-up/

April 2008 — Dewey

The specifics of this update were unclear, but some suspected that Google was pushing its own internal properties like Google Books.

https://www.seroundtable.com/archives/016754.html

https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/3615693.htm

February 2009 — Vince

This update focused on promoting authority and trust and gave preference in SERPs to big brands. This meant that even though many large companies did not practice SEO, they outranked those who did.

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2064606/Hand-Edits-or-Vince-at-Work-in-Google-Search-Results

http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2065386/big-brands-starting-to-get-it-google-starting-get-big-brands

May 2010 — May Day

This algorithm change impacted long-tail traffic, and Matt Cutts explained that it was designed to cause "higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries." Sites with lots of thin content were hit especially hard, as were large sites with "item" pages that didn't have many individual links pointing to them.

http://searchengineland.com/google-confirms-mayday-update-impacts-long-tail-traffic-43054

https://www.seroundtable.com/archives/022293.html

https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4125460.htm

August 2010 — Brand Update

Google started allowing the same domain to appear multiple times on results pages, instead of limiting them to 1-2 listings.

http://searchengineland.com/google-search-results-dominated-by-one-domain-49025

December 2010 — Social Signals

Although not technically an algorithm change, Google and Bing both confirmed that they used social signals (like data from Facebook and Twitter) in determining ranking.

http://searchengineland.com/what-social-signals-do-google-bing-really-count-55389

http://searchengineland.com/google-webmaster-video-reconfirms-use-of-social-signals-59320

December 2010 — Negative Reviews

After ecommerce site DecorMyEyes was caught intentionally treating customers poorly for the sake of getting negative reviews, Google adjusted their algorithm to target sites who were ranking well based on bad publicity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/business/28borker.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/being-bad-to-your-customers-is-bad-for.html

January 28, 2011 — Attribution Update

This update was made in an attempt to better sort out content attribution and stop scrapers. Matt Cutts explained that as a result, searchers were more likely to see sites that published original content than sites that scraped or copied content.

https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/algorithm-change-launched/

http://searchnewscentral.com/20110131124/Latest/latest-google-algorithm-change.html

November 3, 2011 — Freshness Update

Google announced that the "freshness" of pages would impact their rankings for certain queries. This mostly affected time-sensitive results, but it was the first time Google gave preference to recent content.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/giving-you-fresher-more-recent-search.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-search-algorithm-change-for-freshness-to-impact-35-of-searches-99856

January 19, 2012 — Page Layout ("Top Heavy") Update

This update devalued sites with too many ads "above the fold" and targeted sites that used huge, distracting banner ads.

http://searchengineland.com/too-many-ads-above-the-fold-now-penalized-by-googles-page-layout-algo-108613

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/01/page-layout-algorithm-improvement.html

February 27, 2012 — Venice Update

This update provided localized results based on the geographic location of each user. As a result, rankings were different for different users, location-based keywords became much more important.

https://moz.com/blog/understand-and-rock-the-google-venice-update

http://marketing-blog.catalystemarketing.com/google-venice-update-local-seo.html

September 27, 2012 — Exact-Match Domain

The Exact-Match Domain (EMD) update devalued EMDs, which, according to Moz, reduced their presence online by over 10%. This was meant to target sites who used keyword-heavy domain names solely for SEO purposes.

https://moz.com/blog/googles-emd-algo-update-early-data

http://searchengineland.com/low-quality-exact-match-domains-are-googles-next-target-134889

October 9, 2012 — Pay Layout Update #2

This was a change to the original page layout update, which targeted pages with ads above the fold. Sites who were initially affected were restored to their original rankings if they made the changes Google suggested, and the algorithm rolled out globally.

http://searchengineland.com/google-page-layout-algorithm-update-135847

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-page-layout-update-15815.html

May 9, 2013 — Phantom Update

Many webmasters suspected an algorithm update after experiencing significant traffic loss, but Google made no announcement or confirmation of a change.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-now-16762.html

http://www.hmtweb.com/marketing-blog/penguin-2-google-phantom-update-may-2013/

May 21, 2013 — Domain Crowding Update

This update was intended to control domain crowding beyond the first page of results and rolled out right around the same time as Penguin 2.0. This meant that dominant domains could no longer take over entire pages of results.

https://www.highposition.com/blog/google-domain-crowding-update-may-2013/

https://www.briggsby.com/google-domain-clustering-update/

June 27, 2013 — Multi-Week Update

Matt Cutts tweeted that a "multi-week update" was about to occur, but did not include any specifics. Some people speculated that it was a spam-related update, similar to Payday Loan.

https://twitter.com/mattcutts/status/348255304825319425

https://moz.com/blog/googles-multi-week-algorithm-update

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-confirmed-16981.html

August 20, 2013 — Hummingbird Update

Although this update was not announced until more than a month later, Google rolled it out in late August. It was a core algorithm update that has been compared to Caffeine and affected semantic search and the Knowledge Graph.

http://searchengineland.com/google-hummingbird-172816

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-17268.html

February 6, 2014 — Page Layout #3

This was a "refresh" of the Page Layout algorithm, meaning that sites owners who removed their ads above the fold had a chance to restore their original rankings.

http://searchengineland.com/google-updates-page-layout-algorithm-go-sites-top-heavy-ads-183929

August 6, 2014 — HTTPS/SSL Update

With this update, Google announced that they would start giving preference to secure sites. They said that adding encryption would give a "lightweight" rankings boost, but that it may increase over time.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-starts-giving-ranking-boost-secure-httpsssl-sites-199446

April 21, 2015 — Mobile Update AKA "Mobilegeddon"

In late February, Google announced that they'd be rolling out a mobile-friendliness update on April 21. For the first time, mobile rankings would differ from desktop rankings, with preference being given to sites with responsive or mobile-friendly design.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html

http://www.webpagefx.com/blog/seo/how-important-was-googles-mobile-update/

May 3, 2015 — The Quality Update

After many webmasters reported large-scale ranking chances, some referred to this update as "Phantom 2." Google later acknowledged an algorithm change, and said that it impacted "quality signals." However, they did not provide any specifics on how quality assessment changed.

http://searchengineland.com/the-quality-update-google-confirms-changing-how-quality-is-assessed-resulting-in-rankings-shake-up-221118

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102669423

July 26, 2013 — Unnamed Update

Webmasters noticed unusual changes in traffic, but Google did not confirm an update.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-weekend-update-17142.html

https://plus.google.com/+SEOmoz/posts/1LhxuexfUFL

November 14, 2013 — Unnamed Update

Many webmasters received DNS errors in Google Webmaster Tools, and around the same time, flux trackers picked up unusual activity.

https://moz.com/blog/was-there-a-november-14th-google-update

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-nov15-17689.html

December 17, 2013 — Unnamed Update

Flux trackers around the world noticed activity, but Google did not confirm an update.

http://dejanseo.com.au/2nd-biggest-serp-flux-2013/

http://searchengineland.com/google-denies-a-major-update-on-december-17th-180289

March 24, 2014 — Unnamed Update

Many algorithm flux trackers reported shifts around this time, and some referred to it as a "softer Panda," but nothing was confirmed by Google.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-march-18313.html

http://www.hmtweb.com/marketing-blog/softer-panda-march-2014/

February 4, 2015 — Unnamed Update

Many webmasters reported major changes in SERPs, but Google did not confirm an update. There is no consensus on what exactly was affected, and guesses range from ecommerce to mobile usability.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-algorithm-update-19820.html

http://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/2015/02/08/google-brand-ecommerce-update-causing-fluctuations/

November 14, 2011 — 10 algorithm changes

In an unprecedented move, Matt Cutts published a post with the details of 10 recent algorithm changes. Most of them were relatively small, but the post showed a shift towards transparency.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/11/ten-recent-algorithm-changes.html

http://searchengineland.com/improved-snippets-rank-boost-for-official-pages-among-10-new-google-algorithm-changes-100969

December 2011 — New monthly series announced

For the second time, Google released a blog post with recent algorithm updates. They also announced that these posts would be published on a monthly basis.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/12/search-quality-highlights-new-monthly.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-parked-domains-scraper-sites-targeted-amongsearch-changes-103302

January 5, 2012 — 30 search quality highlights

This time, Google announced 30 changes instead of 10, which they referred to as "search quality highlights."

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/01/30-search-quality-highlights-with.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-announces-megasitelinks-image-search-improvements-better-byline-dates-106798

February 3, 2012 — 17 search quality highlights

Shortly after announcing Search+, Google released this post of updates.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/17-search-quality-highlights-january.html

http://searchengineland.com/googles-january-search-update-110121

February 27, 2012 — 40 search quality highlights

Only a few weeks after the previous post (contrary to their announcement of monthly posts), Google published a second February post — this time with 40 updates.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/search-quality-highlights-40-changes.html

April 3, 2012 — 50 search quality highlights

This update confirmed Panda 3.4 and also included changes to anchor text, image search, and local intent.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/04/search-quality-highlights-50-changes.html

http://searchengineland.com/googles-march-updates-anchor-text-image-search-navigational-search-more-117285

May 4, 2012 — 53 search quality highlights

Many of the changes in this update were related to Penguin, and it also highlighted a 15% larger index, improvements to pagination, and updates to sitelinks.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/05/search-quality-highlights-53-changes.html

http://searchengineland.com/googles-april-search-updates-120370

June 7, 2012 — 39 search quality highlights

This post included Penguin updates, link-scheme detection, and changes to Google News.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/06/search-quality-highlights-39-changes.html

http://searchengineland.com/googles-may-updates-inorganic-backlinks-page-titles-fresh-results-more-123951

August 10, 2012 — 86 search quality highlights

This was the largest list of search highlights Google ever published, and it included Panda and algorithm refreshes, preference to secure sites, and changes to site clustering.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/08/search-quality-highlights-86-changes.html

http://searchengineland.com/googles-june-july-updates-130392

October 4, 2012 — 65 search quality highlights

This was the last list of search highlights Google released. It included seven-result SERPs, the Knowledge Graph expansion, updates to page quality, and changes to local results.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/10/search-quality-highlights-65-changes.html

February 23, 2011 — Panda

In this major update, Google cracked down on thin content, content farms, sites with high ad-to-content ratios, and other quality issues. It affected almost 12% of all search results and caused dramatic losses for some companies. However, it also caused companies with high quality content to move up in rankings. Panda showed a big shift towards quality content, and it was only the first part of a long series of Panda updates.

http://www.wired.com/2011/03/the-panda-that-hates-farms/

https://moz.com/blog/googles-farmer-update-analysis-of-winners-vs-losers

April 11, 2011 — Panda 2.0 (#2)

Google officially rolled out the Panda update to all English queries worldwide and also integrated new signals, including data about sites users blocked.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/04/high-quality-sites-algorithm-goes.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-rolls-out-its-panda-update-internationally-and-begins-incorporating-searcher-blocking-data-72497

May 9, 2011 — Panda 2.1 (#3)

Although they did not provide details, Google rolled out a set of relatively minor changes to Panda.

http://searchengineland.com/its-panda-update-2-not-3-google-says-76508

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-3-13379.html

June 21, 2011 — Panda 2.2 (#4)

Google officially confirmed an update to Panda-impacted sites and data. They also confirmed that the updates occurred separately from the main index (and not in real time).

http://searchengineland.com/official-google-panda-update-2-2-is-live-82611

http://searchengineland.com/why-google-panda-is-more-a-ranking-factor-than-algorithm-update-82564

July 23, 2011 — Panda 2.3 (#5)

It is unclear whether this was an algorithm update or a refresh to Panda data, but many webmasters believed that there was a major Panda update.

http://searchengineland.com/official-google-panda-2-3-update-is-live-87230

http://www.stonetemple.com/a-holistic-look-at-panda-with-vanessa-fox/

August 12, 2011 — Panda 2.4 (#6)

Six months after its original launch, Google rolled Panda out internationally. It now affected English and non-English queries (with the exception of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), and impacted 6-9% of all searches.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/08/high-quality-sites-algorithm-launched.html

http://searchengineland.com/googles-panda-update-launches-internationally-in-most-languages-89214

September 28, 2011 — Panda 2.5 (#7)

There are few specific details, but Google confirmed an update and some webmasters reported large losses in traffic.

http://searchengineland.com/confirmed-google-panda-2-4-update-arrived-this-week-95222

http://searchengineland.com/google-panda-losers-today-show-winners-youtube-95257

October 5, 2011 — Panda "Flux" (#8)

After Matt Cutts tweeted that there would be "Panda-related flux," a few minor updates occurred. From this point on, there were small, frequent updates to Panda.

http://searchengineland.com/taking-a-closer-look-at-the-googles-panda-2-5-flux-97603

http://searchengineland.com/minor-google-panda-update-on-november-18th-101891

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November 18, 2011 — Panda 3.1 (#9)

Although Matt Cutts announced the previous month that Panda was entering a period of flux, some industry sources called this minor update 3.1.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-31-14348.html

January 18, 2012 — Panda 3.2 (#10)

Google confirmed a Panda update, but said that the algorithm itself remained unchanged.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-32-update-14632.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-panda-3-2-update-confirmed-109321

February 27, 2012 — Panda 3.3 (#11)

This update was just over a year after Panda's original launch, and appeared to be relatively minor.

http://searchengineland.com/google-confirms-panda-update-link-evaluation-local-search-rankings-113078

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-33-14803.html

March 23, 2012 — Panda 3.4 (#12)

Google announced this update via Twitter right as it was rolling out. They estimated that the update impacted 1.6% of queries.

http://searchengineland.com/google-says-panda-update-is-rolling-out-now-116444

April 19, 2012 — Panda 3.5 (#13)

Only four days after the previous Panda update, Google released another mix of changes. They did not specify what changed.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-35-15065.html

April 27, 2012 — Panda 3.6 (#14)

This data update's impact was relatively small.

http://searchengineland.com/panda-update-3-6-on-april-27th-120227

June 8, 2012 — Panda 3.7 (#15)

Google claimed that this data updated affected less than 1% of queries, but ranking fluctuations showed that the impact was greater than previous Panda updates.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-3-7-15281.html

https://moz.com/blog/the-bigfoot-update-aka-dr-pete-goes-crazy

July 24, 2012 — Panda 3.9 (#17)

This update caused rankings to fluctuate for about a week, and Google said that about 1% of queries were affected.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-39-official-15480.html

September 18, 2012 — Panda 3.9.2 (#19)

This update was a data refresh, and ranking flux was not huge.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-392-15720.html

http://searchengineland.com/panda-update-3-92-rolling-out-or-is-it-panda-4-0-time-133607

September 27, 2012 — Panda #20

This was a larger Panda update and affected 2.4% of queries. It was also when industry publications stopped referring to Panda updates with their series names, and started simply referring to them with numbers.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-20-15789.html

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-emd-panda-15792.html

November 5, 2012 — Panda #21

This update was relatively small compared to the previous Panda update and affected 1.1% of English queries.

http://searchengineland.com/google-releases-panda-update-21-138902

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-21-15918.html

November 21, 2012 — Panda #22

Not long after the previous Panda update, Google confirmed this data-only update.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-22-confirmed-16017.html

http://searchengineland.com/confirmed-google-panda-refresh-22-happened-on-november-21st-141098

December 21, 2012 — Panda #23

According to Google, this was a "refresh" of Panda, and it affected 1.3% of English queries.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-update-maybe-16121.html

January 22, 2013 — Panda #24

Google announced this as the first official update of 2013 and claimed that 1.2% of queries were affected.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-24-16255.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-panda-update-version-24-1-2-of-search-queries-impacted-146149

March 14, 2013 — Panda #25

Matt Cutts announced this update at SMX West and implied that it would be the last update before Panda was integrated into the core algorithm.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-25-16506.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-panda-update-25-seems-to-have-hit-151732

June 11, 2013 — Panda Updating on a Monthly Basis

Although this was not an update, Matt Cutts clarified that Panda was still updating on a monthly basis. This was contrary to many webmasters' expectations of a Panda "everflux" after Panda #25.

http://searchengineland.com/googles-panda-dance-matt-cutts-confirms-panda-rolls-out-monthly-over-10-of-30-days-162950

July 18, 2013 — Panda Recovery

Google confirmed this update, but the details were unclear. Many believe that it was algorithmic and "softened" previous Panda penalties.

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-update-17094.html

May 19, 2014 — Panda 4.0 (#26)

Google confirmed that this update included both an algorithm update and a data refresh, estimating that 7.5% of English queries were affected.

http://searchengineland.com/google-begins-rolling-panda-4-0-now-192043

http://moz.com/blog/panda-4-payday-loan-2-and-ebays-very-bad-day

September 23, 2014 — Panda 4.1 (#27)

Google announced a significant Panda update and estimated that it would affect 3-5% of queries.

http://searchengineland.com/panda-update-rolling-204313

http://www.hmtweb.com/marketing-blog/panda-4-1-analysis/

July 17, 2015 — Panda 4.2 (#28)

Google reported this Panda refresh to Search Engine Land and said that it would affect 2-3% of English language queries. However, the update rolled out very slowly and did not cause any immediate changes in ranking.

http://searchengineland.com/google-panda-4-2-is-here-slowly-rolling-out-after-waiting-almost-10-months-225850

April 24, 2012 — Penguin Announced

Originally referred to as the "Webspam Update," Penguin targeted a number of spam factors and impacted 3.1% of English queries. It was designed to target sites that used black hat SEO techniques and help searchers find sites that provided a great user experience. They did not provide many details about specific signals (as black hat SEOs likely would've used them to game the search results), but instead told webmasters to "focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience … instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics."

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-quality.html

http://searchengineland.com/the-penguin-update-googles-webspam-algorithm-gets-official-name-119623

http://searchengineland.com/penguin-update-recovery-tips-advice-119650

http://searchengineland.com/google-talks-penguin-update-recover-negative-seo-120463

May 25, 2012 — Penguin 1.1 (#2)

This was the first data update after Penguin's original release and confirmed that much like Panda, Penguin data was processed outside of the main index.

http://searchengineland.com/google-pushes-first-penguin-algorithm-update-122518

October 5, 2012 — Penguin #3

Contrary to suggestions that this would be a major update, this data update impacted only 0.3% of queries.

http://searchengineland.com/google-penguin-update-3-135527

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-penguin-3-15802.html

May 22, 2013 — Penguin 2.0 (#4)

Although many webmasters expected this to be a major update, its impact was only moderate. Google did not provide many details, but it appears to have been more targeted to the page level of sites.

http://searchengineland.com/penguin-4-with-penguin-2-0-generation-spam-fighting-is-now-live-160544

https://moz.com/blog/penguin-2-were-you-jarred-and-or-jolted

October 4, 2013 — Penguin 2.1 (#5)

This was primarily a data update, and not a major change to the Penguin algorithm.

http://searchengineland.com/penguin-2-1-and-5-live-173632

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-penguin-21-big-17479.html

October 17, 2014 — Penguin 3.0 (#6)

Over a year after the previous update, Google launched a Penguin refresh. The effects were relatively small, and it is suspected that it was data-only.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-penguin-3-impact-roll-19321.html

http://www.hmtweb.com/marketing-blog/penguin-3-analysis-findings/

December 10, 2014 — Penguin Everflux

At this point, Penguin shifted from infrequent, major updates to continuous updates.

http://searchengineland.com/google-says-penguin-shift-continuous-updates-210580

June 11, 2013 — "Payday Loan" Update

Matt Cutts announced this update on Twitter by saying that Google had "just started a new ranking update today for some spammy queries." He later went into more detail at SMX advanced and explained that the algorithm was designed to target notoriously spammy searches, like those for payday loans and pornographic material.

http://searchengineland.com/google-pay-day-loan-algorithm-google-search-algorithm-update-to-target-spammy-queries-162941

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-pay-day-loan-spam-algo-16917.html

May 16, 2014 — Payday Loan 2.0

Google confirmed that they were updating their Payday Loan algorithm, but it is difficult to determine its effects because it was rolled out in the same time frame as Panda 4.0.

http://searchengineland.com/official-google-payday-loan-algorithm-2-0-launched-targets-spammy-queries-192027

June 12, 2014 — Payday Loan 3.0

Less than a month after 2.0, Google launched Payday Loan 3.0. They announced that this updated targeted specific sites, while the previous ones targeted "spammy queries."

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-payday-loan-3-spam-18695.html

August 10, 2012 — Pirate Update

Google started penalizing sites with repeat copyright violations, like torrent sites. Sites with high numbers of removal notices started appearing lower in results, which Google claimed would "help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily."

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/08/an-update-to-our-search-algorithms.html

http://searchengineland.com/dmca-requests-now-used-in-googles-ranking-algorithm-130118

October 21, 2014 — Pirate 2.0

Over two years after the original Pirate update, Google launched another update to target piracy. This update was more severe and caused sites with any violation filed through Google's DMCA system to drop in rankings dramatically.

http://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/2014/10/26/google-pirate-update-analysis-and-loser-list/

http://torrentfreak.com/googles-new-downranking-hits-pirate-sites-hard-141023/

July 24, 2014 — Pigeon Update

With this major update to local SEO, Google altered the way they handled location cues. They explained that it was a merge of the local algorithm and core algorithms, designed to provide a "more useful and relevant experience for searchers seeking local results."

http://searchengineland.com/google-makes-significant-changes-local-search-ranking-algorithm-197778

http://blumenthals.com/blog/2014/07/25/google-updates-local-algo-with-more-web-based-signals-turmoil-in-serps/

December 22, 2014 — Pigeon Expansion

A few months after its launch in the U.S., Pigeon expanded to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

http://searchengineland.com/google-pigeon-update-rolls-uk-canada-australia-211576
http://www.strategydigital.co.uk/blog/local-search-results-affected-as-google-pigeon-update-hits-uk/

May 16, 2012 — Knowledge Graph

Google introduced the "Knowledge Graph," which added supplemental information to certain queries. For example, SERPs for celebrities and well-known people now included a sidebar with an excerpt from their Wikipedia page.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/introducing-knowledge-graph-things-not.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-launches-knowledge-graph-121585

December 4, 2012 — Knowledge Graph Expansion

Google expanded the Knowledge graph to non-English queries, and it now showed up for searches in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and Italian.

http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/12/get-smarter-answers-from-knowledge_4.html

http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/04/googles-knowledge-graph-expands-to-more-languages-including-italian-japanese-and-russian/

July 19, 2013 — Knowledge Graph Expansion

Moz refers to this as "the day the Knowledge Graph exploded," since the amount of queries that showed a Knowledge Graph jumped by more than 50%.

https://moz.com/blog/the-day-the-knowledge-graph-exploded

October 26, 2015 — RankBrain announced

Google first shared information about their machine-learning artificial intelligence system with Bloomberg on this date, although it had been in use for several months prior. It's one of the signals that plays a role in its algorithm, and helps the search engine interpret searches.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-26/google-turning-its-lucrative-web-search-over-to-ai-machines

http://searchengineland.com/faq-all-about-the-new-google-rankbrain-algorithm-234440

January 8, 2016 — Unnamed Update

With this update, there was a large change in rankings and Google later confirmed that it was a "core algo update". There weren't a lot of details released with this unnamed update.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-core-ranking-21460.html

February 23, 2016 — AdWords Shake-up

The AdWords shake-up got rid of all right-column ads and replaced them with 4-ad top blocks. It affected click through rate for paid and organic results.

https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change

http://meclosys1.blogspot.com/2016/03/2016-updates-adwords-shake-up-february.html

May 10, 2016 — Unnamed Major Update

Google never confirmed this update nor was there ever an explanation for it. However, Google weather trackers showed a 97-degree spike in algorithm activity.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-no-recent-major-algorithm-update-22064.html

May 12,2016 — Mobile-friendly 2

This update was a ranking signal boost which helped mobile-friendly sites. However, the impact was likely fairly small.

http://searchengineland.com/googles-mobile-friendly-algorithm-boost-rolled-249357

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-strengthens-mobile-friendly-ranking-signal-today/163760/

September 1, 2016 — "Possum"

Google never confirmed this update, but data suggests that this update, or this update in conjunction with previous updates, heavily impacted organic results.

http://searchengineland.com/everything-need-know-googles-possum-algorithm-update-258900

September 13, 2016 — Image/ Universal Drop

This update brought with it a 50% drop for image results in search engine results pages. It caused a significant ranking shift, and it was likely a part of another larger update.

https://moz.com/blog/penguin-4-was-it-worth-the-wait

September 23, 2016 — Penguin 4.0 announced

The long-awaited update arrived in September, and Google suggested that this update was real-time and a part of the core algorithm. Penguin had a few different phases and the innitial roll out took a substantial amount of time.

http://www.linkresearchtools.com/news/google-penguin-4-0/

http://cognitiveseo.com/blog/10409/google-penguin-4-0-released/

September 27, 2016 — Penguin 4.0, Phase 1

The goal of phase 1 of Penguin was to look at websites as a whole and not punish them for one mistake. They wanted to look at each specific post to determine how much to devalue the link instead of penalizing the entire site.

https://my.wealthyaffiliate.com/kyle/blog/google-penguin-4-0-another-content-based-move

October 6, 2016 — Penguin 4.0, Phase 2

This phase of Penguin signlaed the reversal of all previous Penguin penalties.

http://mobo.co.uk/news/googles-penguin-4-0-release-will-last-kind/215001/

https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/09/28/penguin-4-0-what-does-it-mean-for-seo-practitioners/

November 10, 2016 — Unnamed Major Update

Google has yet to confirm anything about this major update, but many industry leaders suggest that ranking changes are due to previous update reversals.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-search-update-22988.html

January 2011 — Overstock.com Penalty

In a very public penalty, Google outed Overstock.com for bad SEO practices and the site's rankings were greatly affected. Not long after, JCPenney was hit with a similar penalty.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704520504576162753779521700

https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4252178.htm