History of All Google Algorithm Updates

History of All Google Algorithm Updates – Script Consultants

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Introduction

If you are an SEO then you surely know what Google algorithms are and how these algorithm updates can affect your website ranking on Google’s SERP.

Google updates their ranking algorithm over 1000 times every year out of which 95% are minor updates and changes but the remaining 5% are the updates which plays a vital role in your ranking and SEO strategies.

Google even announces a core update before rolling them out so that the SEOs and site owners can optimize their website accordingly in advance and save their site from getting hit by the core algorithm update.

What Is Google Algorithm?

What Is Google Algorithm

You can find the meaning of this term in the word algorithm itself. By definition, the algorithm is a set of instructions employed for solving or executing any problem of that system. It is similar to the case of the Google Algorithm.

Google uses some predefined and established methods to rank the websites on their SERP. For instance, when you search on the topic of “best mobile phones”, Google will show you many websites on their search results page for best mobile phones only.

But there is a method by which Google ranks those websites.

It follows specific patterns and algorithms which are developed by Google itself.

No other company or individual has the access to the Google’s Algorithm except a few officials of Google.

History of All Major Google’s Algorithms & Core Updates

Below we have listed some of the Major Google Algorithm Updates and what changes they brought along with them.

Page Experience Update

Release Date – 16th June 2021

Page Experience Update

The much awaited Page Experience Update has been released by Google on 16th June 2021. The announcement was made on Twitter via Google’s official handle Google SearchLiaison.

It is mentioned that the update is exected to get completely rolled out by the end of August 2021.

Page speed is going to play an important factor in this update.

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Release Date – 2nd June 2021

Danny Sullivan took the official Google search handle i.e Google SearchLiaison on twitter to announce that a broad core algorithm has beed rolled out on 2nd June 2021.

The update was not planned but Google had to roll it out due to some reasons and the 2nd part of the update i.e the Page Experience Update is going to be rolled out soon.

Product Reviews Update

Release Date: 8th April 2021

Product Reviews Update

The Product Reviews Update was specially rolled out for all affiliate websites doing product reviews. Product review sites which were publishing thin content and were ranking high on search engines were majorly affected by this update as google favored descriptive guides over thin content.

The update rolled out on 8th April 2021 after which Google released a 9 points guide of useful questions which you should include in your product review guide to make it more meaningful for your users.

It has been mentioned several times that you should write your content by keeping natural language processing in mind.

Passage Ranking Update

Release Date: 11th Feb 2020

On 11th February 2021, Google announced about another core update which they named as Passage Ranking Update. The announcement was done on twitter.

The update was all about how Google will rank specific passages from web pages on its search index. This was done to let the searcher read the specific section of web page which contains the information he/she is looking for, instead of letting the searcher read the whole web page.

No ranking harm were seen after this update but many sites who were writing high quality meaningful content started ranking in the featured snippet section as certain passage of their web pages were indexed for specific queries.

December 2020 Core Update

Release Date: 3rd December 2020

December 2020 Core Update

On 3rd December 2020, Danny Sullivan announced about a core update being getting rolled out. The official notification was released on Google SearchLiaison and the update was named as December 2020 Core Update.

It was the 3rd major update to be rolled out in 2020 and there were no clear indications on what the update was all about but it was seen that the sites affected by May 2020 Core Update were recovered by the December 2020 Core Update.

Experts believe that this update was about improving query search and their relation with web pages.

May 2020 Core Update

Release Date: 3rd May 2020

Danny Sullivan using the official handle of Google Search i.e Google SearchLiaison announced on 3rd May 2020 that a google’s core algorithm update will be rolling out today and it will be known as May 2020 core update.

Till date many speculation have been made on what the May Update was all about and how it impacted the rankings but no conclusion has been made about the same.

January 2020 Core Update

Release Date: 13th January 2020

Google on 13th January 2020 released a notification on their twitter handle about an update being released and named it as January 2020 core update.

Once the update was fully rolled out it came out to be an update which was related to featured snippets. The update confirmed that websites ranking on featured snippets will not be shown again on the first page of organic search results.

This was done to avoid duplicacy of search results on featured snippet as well as on normal search listing.

Google Bert

Release Date: 22nd Oct 2019

BERT i.e Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers is a machine learning system algorithm which was based on NLP i.e Natural Language Processing which helps the search engine in understanding the search query and user’s intent for the search query.

The update rolled out on 22nd October 2019.

There was a lot of ranking updates and changes on Google SERP after BERT was rolled out as this google’s core algorithm update allowed google to understand each and every search queary from user’s point of view which made google deliver more specific and relevant results on search page.

Just like the Panda Algorithm update was a big change, google announced BERT as one of the major update and the biggest update of last 5 years which will definitely impact one in every 10 searches.

How People Recovered From BERT Update?

SEOs and website owners whose sites were affected by BERT update made drastic changes in their content by taking Natural Language Processing into consideration and modifying their site’s content by publishing informational content for users and not keywords specific content.

Thin content articles were updated first by including more information about the topic so that user’s should not search more for that particular topic.

Medic

Release Date: 1st Aug 2018

On 1st August 2018, Google released a notification on twitter about the release of a broad core algorithm update which was later named as MEDIC as a high number of medical websites were affected with decrease in their organic rankings but it was mentioned that the update has nothing to do with the medical niche sites and was more focused on EAT i.e expertise, authority and trustworthiness in content.

The Medic update made Mobile Page speed as a ranking factor which then affected sites with slow mobile loading speed.

Mobile Speed Update

Release Date: 9th July 2018

Google published an article on their official blog about a Speed Update coming soon. The article was published in January 2018 and they also stated that they will consider the speed update a one of their ranking signal.

On 9th July 2018, google released the most awaited Mobile Speed Update and marked it as a major algorithm update because pages or site with slow loading speed on mobile devices started facing drop in their organic ranking while websites which were optimized for mobile and were having quick loading speed saw an increase in their organic keywords ranking.

This is why this update was marked as a major update as this broad core algorithm update marked the requirement of both Mobile First Indexing and Mobile Speed in ordetr to rank high on mobile devices with writing quality content remaining the top priority.

Possum

Release Date: 1st Sept 2016

Possum was another google update which was focused on improving local search results for searchers. The update was rolled out on 1st September 2016 and just after the update was released, local search results started fluctuating on the SERP as they were more related to searchers physical location, distance from physical store, IP address and much more.

This helped SMEs a lot as small businesses with limited funds who were not able to rank high on Google were able to rank high on local search results easily.

The update was rolled out for all local searches worldwide and this is how physical location was considered as a ranking signal.

RankBrain

Release Date: 26th Oct 2015

RankBrain came out on 26th October 2015 as a core algorithm update which enhanced the google search by incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence all together to give more accurate results for all searches.

The machine learning system helped google in understanding the relation between words with similar meaning and showing more specific and relevant results.

RankBrain was an major algorithm update as gooogle started analyzing user’s personal search history and past searches in order to know mor about user intent and offer the user with most updated search results.

This machine learning algorithm changed the way google used to show results.

In March 2016, Google confirmed that rankbrain is now one of their new ranking factor.

RankBrain was not like other updates, as in this SEO professionals can’t do anything to rank the keywords high until and unless they are receiving high quality content from the content writers. The update was all about writing high quality meaningful content and not just doing keyword stuffing.

The writer had to first understand what the search intent was and then write the content.

Note: After the RankBrain update it was seen that the SERP was even affected by the personal search history of users.

Mobilegeddon Update / Mobile Friendliness Update

Release Date: 21st April 2015

Mobilegeddon was on of those significant google’s core algorithm update which shook the whole search community to the core and redefined the way Google used to show relevant results on the SERP. The update came out on 21st April 2015 and it focused majorly on mobile optimization.

Google confirmed that by 2015 almost 48% of organic search was coming from mobile which pushed Google to roll out the mobile friendliness update in order to give mobile friendly sites a fair chance to rank high on searches made from mobile devices.

This made website owners and developers to update their sites and make them mobile friendly too in order to drive more organic traffic to their sites via mobile searches.

It was an “Mobile First” initiative by google which emphasized on the importance of a site being optimized for mobile users as well.

Yes, you are thinking right, google revealed that making your site mobile friendly is also one of the new ranking factors.

HTTPS/SSL Update

Release Date: 2014

HTTPS/SSL update was not a core algorithm update but it was an important one just like other algorithm updates as it was focused majorly on security.

The HTTPS/SSL update was rolled out in 2014.

This update persuaded users to transfer their sites from HTTP to HTTPS by installing an SSL certificate on their site hosting server.

Sites on HTTPS were given a green padlock on their website just next to their URL which ensured safety for the users and ensured the users that the website they have visited is a trustworthy website.

Later on HTTPS was considered as a ranking factor by Google.

Pigeon Update

Release Date: 24th July 2014

The Pigeon Update was a broad core algorithm update which was focused majorly on improving the local search results.

This major google algorithm was rolled out on 24th July 2014 after which the image of local search and local search results changed a lot.

After pigeon update, google decided to give more accurate and meaningful local search results to their users based on user’s physical distance, location and IP address. This is how user’s location, distance and IP address made their way in google’s ranking signals.

Pigeon update had a great impact on local SEO. It made small businesses and local shops to reach to more audience even without having a website.

Google reviews became more important after the pigeon update.

Hummingbird Update

Release Date: 26th Sept 2013

Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Update laid down the foundation of voice search. The update was all about Google updating its code and algorithm to understand search queries and user search intent in a better manner.

The update rolled out on 26th September, 2013

Hummingbird update was a core algorithm update which made Google understand every word in a query and show result for the whole query instead of showing results by focusing on a single keyword.

This was done with the help of latent semantic indexing being included in content.

This update made website owners and creators to focus more on user’s search intent and content which is more focused on giving valuable information to user rather than focusing more about keywords.

Google Payday Loan Update

Release Date: 11th June 2013

The PayDay Loan Update was released on 11th June 2013 and the update was focused towards penalizing spam sites and quaries coming from low quality website.

This was an industry specific update and targetted porn, casinos, payday loans, high interest loans and pharmaceuticals and medical sites majorly.

Pirate Update

Release Date: 10th Aug 2012

This Google update rolled out on 10th August 2012 and was majorly for the websites who were copying content from other websites and getting high search rankings in Google’s search results

The Pirate Update pulled down all the sites having copyrighted content on them. After this update Google started considering the content takedown requests made by the content owners under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which is popularly known as DMCA.

Google Venice Update

Release Date: Feb 2012

This was the first update which was focused on understanding search queries for local search results. The venice algorithm improved the search results for products and local services for the users as this update started showing results based on user’s physical location or IP address resulting in more precised and unique results for all local search queries.

The Venice Update was a big boost for all local businesses and brands having a physical store or selling products in a particular location or geographical area.

Penguin Update

Release Date: 2012

The Google Penguin Update shook the whole SEO community as SEOs back then used to rank keywords on Google by making unnatural backlinks and using spammy link building strategies.

All the sites involved in manipulative or spam link building tactics were penalized and lost their organic rankings in a snap.

The Penguin Update completely destroyed the whole black hat SEO world as black hat SEO is all about keyword stuffing and low quality links. Which is why sites having unnatural or low quality backlinks suffered the most.

This is the reason why Penguin update was also known as webspam algorithm update by many.

Website owners and SEO using paid links, low effort link building tactics, hidden links to rank high on Google lost all their organic rankings.

Penguin Update was officially included in Google’s Ranking Algorithm in 2016.

Google’s Penguin Update completely changed the link building model which SEOs were using to rank their sites on SERP.

Exact Match Domain Update (EMD Update)

Release Date: 2012

The EMD Update rolled out on 28th September 2012 and the update was mainly focused on penalizing the websites using exact match domains in order to rank high on search engine on a particular keyword.

Spammers used to use this technique to rank an exact match domain website high on a particular keyword and then redirect that domain to some other site but after the Exact Match Domain Update all those low quality sites were removed from search results.

Google Panda Update

Release Date: 23rd Feb 2011

Panda Update was one of the First Major Algorithm Update which rolled out on 23rd February 2011.

The update was considered as one of the core updates as it was directly related to the quality of content being posted on websites.

Sites which were publishing low quality content, doing keyword stuffing in their content and doing content farming were majorly affected by the panda update. Most of the sites were penalized by Google or saw a huge drop in their organic rankings.

This update bought down the most extensively used business model of that time which was “Content Farm”.

Panda algorithm came as a blow to many big industries and websites who were ruling the top position since years. They had to improvise their SEO strategies overnight and had to revise the content published on their sites with something more meaningful.

This gave chance to many website owners to rank high on Google SERP because of the quality content they were publishing on their sites.

The Panda Update killed the most used black hat strategy which was “Keyword Stuffing”.

The two most affected niche from the Panda Update were:

  • Websites with low quality and thin piece of content.
  • Affiliate Sites.

Quality Content became one of the most important ranking factor after the Google Panda Update.

Google MayDay Update

Release Date: 2010

The MayDay Update was officially rolled out between April 28th and May 3rd 2010.

This update was all about how Google matched and started ranking websites for long-tail search queries on their search engine so that users searching for a specific long tail query gets related and specific results.

Caffeine Update

Release Date: 8th June 2010

The Caffeine Update was all about Indexing. The udpate helped users and publishers in getting more updated content and fresh search results faster on Google SERP.

Caffeine Indexing Update was officially rolled out on 8th June 2010.

As per the official statement from Google, “Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest collection of web content we’ve offered.”

Here is the link to official statement released by Google.

The caffeine update allowed Google to crawl and store data quickly and showing fresh and update content to its users.

This helped users in getting more updated search results for their search queries which in turn also made developers and website owners in updating the content on their website with fresh, updated and quality content.

Florida Update

Release Date: 16th Nov 2003

Google Florida Update dropped on SEOs involved in keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks like a bomb. The Florida Update rolled out on November 16, 2003 and it was all about Keywords and their use in a natural manner.

Websites ranking on top position of Google search engine on keywords with high search volume by doing keyword stuffing and creating spammy backlinks were the ones who saw a huge drop in their organic rankings and were majorly affected by this update.

How Does Google Algorithm Updates Influence Your Website Ranking?

For each web page, Google assigns a numeric score as per its algorithm. Various factors determine this score, and it keeps on changing every second.

Meta Titles, Internal Links, External Links, Meta Tags, Organic Traffic, Content and many other factors are there which are considered as ranking factors or ranking signals.

With every Google Algorithm Update, Google includes a single or multiple factors in its keywords ranking process which is why SEOs have to remain uptodate and keep on changing their SEO strategies.

Every Google Update sometimes boost the ranking of your keywords and sometimes negatively affects the ranking of your keywords but if you are creating high quality informative content and following all white hat strategies then you don’t have to worry about any update.

Although, you should know what the update is all about and check if your website fulfils all the things for which the update is all about.

How Is Your SEO Affected By Google’s Algorithm?

The algorithms used by Google aren’t prominent, but we are aware that elements of SEO play a vital role in it.

If you are updating your content on regular basis or feeding Google with fresh and uptodate content then chances of you getting affected by Google updates are low but creating high quality content doesn’t means that you will rank on top position easily.

It takes a lot to rank on top position of Google.

No one has every decoded the complete algorithm of how google ranks a keyword or website on its search engine but still there are many factors which SEOs knows about and keeps on working on them to rank their website.

Final Thoughts

Google Algorithm updates brings new opportunities and learning for SEOs.

Google will try its best to rank high quality results on its result page to give its audience something meaningful to read about.

This is the reason why Google keeps on releasing algorithm updates under the banner of Google Algorithm Update as they keeps on updating their algorithm and system to rank better results high and lower down the ranking of spam sites and low quality content sites.

1 reply
  1. riley
    riley says:

    I am an SEO and after reading this article I came to know about many google algorithm updates which I was not knowing earlier. This guide on history of google algorithm updates is the best one I have ever read which is covering all updates in detailed format.

    Reply

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