Google Algorithm Updates
Algorithm Updates and Time Line
Google changes its search algorithm about 500-600 times each year. While most of these changes do not have any visible effects, Google sometimes launches significant updates such as Penguin and Panda, which changes search results considerably. Knowing the release date of Google updates can help marketing experts interested in SEO to explain the changes in rankings and organic site traffics, and develop search engine optimization strategies. Below we have compiled a list of algorithm changes that have a great impact on your search engine, based on the information provided by Moz.
All Updates From Past to Present
Google confirmed that the July 2021 Core Update rolled out from July 1-12.
- Google July 2021 core update rolling out now (SEL)
Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed that an algorithm update targeted at fighting spam was rolling out to search results.
- Google Search releases spam update on June 23 (SEL)
Long-awaited Page Experience update has started rolling out. ‘‘Page experience won’t play its full role as part of those systems until the end of August,’’ Google has explained.
- More time, tools, and details on the page experience update (Google)
Google simultaneously announced the June and July 2021 Core Updates. The June Core Update reportedly rolled out from June 2-12.
- Google Core Update June/July 2021: All the info on Google’s summer updates (Searchmetrics)
This new search ranking algorithm update was designed to reward product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products. This update only involves English language reviews for now, Google has said.
- What creators should know about Google’s product reviews update (Google)
Three weeks after roughly 40% of Featured Snippets mysteriously disappeared from SERPs, they returned to their previous levels. Google did not provide confirmation nor an explanation.
- Featured Snippets: Not Gone, Just on Holiday (Moz)
MozCast registered a 40% day-over-day drop in SERPs with Featured Snippets It was their lowest point since 2015. These were reportedly focused on short queries (especially 1-word queries) and disproportionately hit YMYL queries (health and finance).
- Featured Snippets Drop to Historic Lows (Moz)
Google has updated passage ranking which went live on February 10, 2021 for US/English queries. Google initially estimated that passage-based indexing will affect 7% of search queries across all languages when fully rolled out globally.
- Google passage ranking now live in US English search results (SEL)
One day after Google announced the end of the December Core Update rollout, MozCast measured moderately-high rankings flux at 99°F. It was unclear whether this was the last hurrah of that rollout or a separate, medium-sized algorithm update.
- Google December 2020 Core Update Is Complete (SER)
Google announced a Core Update that appeared to roll out quickly, with the bulk of the impact hitting on December 3rd. Some sites reported reversals a few days later, but this seems to have been limited.
- Google's December 2020 Core Update: By the Numbers (Moz)
Google claimed that the bulk of the indexing and canonicalization bug(s) had been fixed by around October 14th.
- Is There A Google Search Ranking Update Or More Indexing Issues & Fixes? (SER)
Google confirmed an indexing and canonicalization bug starting in early September. Dips were detected in indexed pages on September 23rd and 29th.
- Pages Dropping Out Of Google's Index With More Google Ranking Fluctuations? (SER)
Rank tracking tools suggested a significant update, with MozCast measuring 101°F, but no update was confirmed by Google. Some industry analysts suggested the changes were rolled back the next day and may have been temporary.
- August 15th - Another Possible Big Google Search Algorithm & Ranking Update (SER)
SEOs reported massive ranking changes for a few hours on August 10, which then seemed to disappear. Google later confirmed a glitch in their indexing systems.
- A Google Search bug wreaked havoc on the search results Monday night (SEL)
While no algorithm update was confirmed, a Google rep confirmed an indexing bug affecting Disqus comments that would be fixed during this time period.
- A Big Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update Happening Now? (SER)
Google announced a Core Update which caused heavy rankings flux from about May 4-6. This was the second core update of 2020 as the first one was the January 2020 core update.
- Google May 2020 Core Update rolling out (SEL)
- Google's May 2020 Core Update: Winners, Winnerers, Winlosers, and Why It's All Probably Crap (Moz)
Multiple tools registered very high ranking flux for a few days. Google reps said that this was not a Core Update, and some data sets showed these changes reversing around February 12th.
- Unconfirmed Google Search ranking update feels big (SEL)
Google announced that URLs in Featured Snippets would no longer be appearing as traditional organic results, in line with Google's philosophy that a Featured Snippet is a promoted organic result. This had significant implications for rank-tracking and organic CTR.
- Google Featured Snippet and Core Updates in January 2020: Expert Roundup (Semrush)
Google rolled another core update in line with the previous three core updates. The rollout is global and impacting all Google search regions and languages.
- Google's January 2020 Core Update: Has the Dust Settled? (Moz)
Google confirmed that the BERT natural language processing algorithm was rolling out internationally, in 70 languages.
- BERT is rolling out to Google search in over 70 languages (SEL)
Google upgraded their algorithm and underlying hardware to support the BERT natural language processing (NLP) model. BERT helps Google better interpret natural language searches and understand context.
- Understanding searches better than ever before (Google)
SERP trackers registered multiple days of ranking flux, with MozCast showing early signs on October 2 and peaking at 98°F on October 4. Google did not confirm an update, and no details were forthcoming.
- Possible Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update On October 3rd (SER)
Google rolled out another core update. It seemed to impact sites affected by previous core updates. Google did not provide many details.
- Google September 2019 core update to roll-out later today (SEL)
Ranking trackers and webmaster chatter registered a week of heavy flux that was later dubbed the "Maverick" update by the search community. Google did not confirm an update, and details were limited.
- Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update Again: Update Maverick (SER)
Google pre-announced a "site diversity" update, claiming it would improve situations where sites had more than two organic listings. Moz data showed that, while the update did marginally improve SERPs with 3-5 duplicate sites on page one, the impact was relatively small.
- Did Google's Site Diversity Update Live Up to its Promise? (Moz)
Google pre-announced a "core" update, but with limited details. Sites impacted in previous core updates seem to have been affected, in some cases, and some major UK publishers reported heavy losses.
- Early data around the Google June 2019 core update shows some winners, losers (SEL)
Two days in a row, Google confirmed indexing bugs. The first bug reportedly was preventing new content from being properly indexed. MozCast confirmed unusually high SERP flux from May 23-25 (peaking on the 23rd), but it's unclear if this was directly related to the bugs.
- Google has fixed the indexing issue from Thursday night (SEL)
Google confirmed a bug that dropped pages from the search index around the weekend of April 5th. Most sites recovered soon after.
- Google says de-indexing issue is fixed (SEL)
Google confirmed a "core" update, stating it was the third major core update since they began using that label. There were no specific details about the update.
- Google released a broad core search algorithm on March 12 (SEL)
For one day, Google showed anomalous page-1 counts, with up to 19 organic results. These appeared to be related to In-depth Articles, which disappeared entirely on March 6.
- March 1st Google Update: The Mysterious Case of the 19-Result SERPs (Moz)
After a relatively quiet December and January, tracking tools detected heavy ranking flux, with MozCast reaching 103.4°F.
- Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update Happening Today? (SER)
MozCast hit 103.1°F, and webmaster chatter and other tracking tools indicated high algorithm flux. Google did not confirm.
-Google Search Algorithm Update Hits Friday November 30th? (SER)
Tracking tools and webmaster chatter indicated heavy algorithm flux, and MozCast spiked to 109.7°F. No confirmation from Google.
- October 16, 2018 Google Search Algorithm Update (SER)
MozCast temperatures hit 107.6°F, but Google would not confirm any significant changes.
- Google Algorithm Update On September 11th (SER)
Google confirmed a "broad core algorithm update," with wide reports of massive impact. It rolled out over the period of about a week, but peaked on August 1-2. This update seemed to disproportionately affect sites in the health and wellness vertical, although large-scale impact was seen in all verticals.
- Google's August 1st Core Update: Week 1 (Moz)
After warning users of unsecured (non-HTTPS) forms months earlier, Chrome 68 began marking all non-HTTPS sites as "not secure."
- A milestone for Chrome security: marking HTTP as “not secure” (Google)
Although the chatter between algorithm trackers and webmasters indicated huge changes in the rankings, Google did not confirm it. MozCast recorded the highest temperature in its history at 47.7°C in 2018.
Six months after it had been announced, Google launched a mobile page speed update and made page speed a factor for the ranking of mobile results. Google claimed that it only impacted the slowest mobile sites and there was no proof indicating a considerable amount of change in mobile rankings.
Google moved the videos from organic-like results using thumbnail images to dedicated video carousel, which resulted in a shake-up in the results previously tracked as organic. It also resulted in an important increase in the number of SERPs with videos (+60% in MozCast)
Although the chatter between algorithm tracking tools and webmasters indicated huge changes in the rankings, Google did not confirm an update. MozCast showed the top highest temperatures on May 23 for 3 days.
Testing longer snippets with 300+ characters for a few months, Google rolled back the majority of snippets to the previous limits (150-160 characters).
MozCast caught a broad algorithm change that peaked on April 17 and continued for about a week. Later on, Google confirmed a "core" update but did not release its features, and the update was not named by Google or any SEO community.
Google announced that mobile-first indexing was finally rolling out. Since the index had been tested for months and Google suggested that the sites were being migrated gradually, how much this specific update impacted the general index remained unclear. Webmasters started to see notifications on Google Search Console.
Google started displaying zero organic results and the "Show all results" button on a small cluster of Knowledge Cards including some time/date queries and unit conversion calculators. After a week, Google stopped this test. However, it is believed that this test indicates important changes.
A sudden spike in rankings was observed in many different tools around February 20, and they went back to normal quickly. Google did not confirm any updates during this period.
After testing search results for more than two years, Google started to show long meta description tags in many results. So, we determined a new meta description limit as 300 characters. Google confirmed that an update related to how snippets were handled was released but did not specify any details.
A considerable drop in Featured Snippets was observed over a few days from October 27 to 31. Since Google added many panels for broad terms and objects ("travel", "toilet", "web design" etc.), it occurred with a spike in Knowledge Panels. Some of these panels disappeared on December 15.
With Chrome 62, Google started to display an unsafe warning to users on sites without an SSL certificate. Even though it was not an algorithm update, this update was considered by Google as an important step in HTTPS, and it started to impact site traffics.
Google officially launched a job posting portal and started listing 3 job posts in search results. Data of these posts are drawn from job posting providers such as LinkedIn, Monster, Glassdoor, and CareerBuilder.
Mozcast and other tools observed major spikes on the days following May 17. It is possible to say that it continued for months.
According to MozCast 10K track, half of the first page of Google organic results was HTTPS in mid-April. It is possible to say that 75% of the first page results were HTTPS - safe pages by the end of 2017.
Google rolled out a broad update which has been reported to have a great impact in SEO communities. Gary Illyes jokingly named the update "Fred" and somehow the name stuck. However, he announced later that this was not an official confirmation.
There was a period of intense algorithm update starting on February 1 and peaking on February 6. It was unclear whether this was a multiple update or just one algorithm update extended over a long period of time, but the evidence of details shows that there were at least two updates.
Google developed a penalty to punish aggressive interstitials and pop-ups that can harm the mobile user experience. Google announced the update five months before its release. MozCast indicated high temperatures on January 10-11 but SEO experts stated that it had minimal impact on the sites possible to be affected.
Multiple Google trackers reported a considerable amount of fluctuation on December 14-15. The temperature was reported by MozCast as 109 F during this period, which was a rare one. Although webmaster chatter on the topic was noticeable, Google did not confirm an update.
MozCast indicated a huge increase on November 10 and 18 at 106 degrees. There was a great industry chatter on both dates, some of which claimed that the second update would have the reverse effect of the first one. Google confirmed neither of the updates. Over the same period, many people reported that they had bad experiences with SERPs but it was unclear whether the update caused it or it was just a coincidence.
It is unclear whether this update was Penguin or something else. However, it is told to be the second phase of Penguin 4.0 and its impact was largely observed for two weeks.
Although the exact roll-out date of the update, devaluing harmful links instead of punishing sites, was not confirmed, it was told to take a few days for the update to take its final shape.
Google announced the Penguin update that had been expected for almost 2 years. It is stated that the new Penguin update is now real-time. Its early impact was surprisingly minimal, and almost no Penguin recovery cases were observed.
MozCast observed a 50% drop in the image search results and stated that the changes in universal results opened up organic positions on the first page and that changes occurred in rankings. These changes were told to be part of a bigger update.
1 year after the original "mobile-friendly" update, Google released the ranking signal boost for mobile-friendly sites to benefit from mobile searches. Since most of the tracked sites were mobile-friendly, the impact of this update was small.
MozCast and other Google weather trackers showed a week-long pattern of algorithm activities that were historically rare. Google did not confirm this update or made an explanation on this issue.
Google made major changes to AdWords removing right-column ads entirely and rolling out 4 blocks on top as ad blocks in search results. Although it was an update for paid search, it had a great impact on, especially competitive keywords in terms of both paid and organic results for CTR.
Not confirmed by Google, this update emerged as a result of the changes in MozCast data and some serious changes in the rankings stated by local SEO communities. Data showed that this update had a great impact on organic results.
Multiple tracking tools including MozCast reported huge changes in rankings. Later on, Google confirmed it as "core algorithm update". Google officially announced that it was not a Penguin update, but did not provide further details.
Google made a major announcement, revealing that artificial intelligence and learning were a part of the algorithm contributing to the third most effective ranking factor. *Note: This is the day of the announcement. It was launched in spring 2015.
Google reported that this update was more like a Panda data refresh and that it could take months to become fully influential.
After many large-scale ranking changes, Google recognized core algorithm change that impacted "quality signals". This update has been observed to have had a broader impact but Google did not share any information regarding what the signals involved.
By a rare move, Google announced an algorithm update in advance revealing that mobile rankings for mobile-friendly sites could vary as of April 21. The short-term impact of this update was less than expected and the data showed that the algorithm change peaked on April 22.
Several SERP trackers and many webmasters reported major changes in Google SERPs. The speculations on the update ranged from e-commerce update to mobile use update. Google did not confirm an official update.
Google's local algorithm expand called "Pigeon" has expanded to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The original update was rolled out in July 2014 in the United States. The update was confirmed on the 22nd but the rumors are that it was launched on the 19th.
Google authorities said that Penguin would be one of the continuous updates. Although the exact date was not clear, the flux was told to start after Penguin 3.0 and unconfirmed Penguin 3.1.
More than two years after the original DMCA/"Pirate" update, Google launched another update to fight software and digital media piracy. This update caused a considerable drop in the rankings.
More than a year after the previous Penguin update (2.1), Google launched a Penguin refresh. The update had less impact than expected, and it was probably not a new Penguin algorithm. The timing of the update was unclear and Google said that it was spread out over weeks.
Google made a change that seemed like a display change to News box results but later announced that they had expanded some news links to larger potential sites. News results in SERP also spiked and new sites reported a considerable amount of traffic change.
Google announced an important Panda update that involved an algorithmic component. They speculated impact at 3-5% of queries affected. Due to the slow rollout, the exact time of launch was unclear.
Following the drop in authorship photographs on June 28, Google announced that the authorship mark-up would be completely removed. By the next morning, the authorship had disappeared from SERPs.
After months of speculations, Google announced that the sites which had taken safety actions (such as ssl certificate) would be prioritized.
Google shook the local SEO world with a new update that dramatically changed the local results and modified how to handle and interpret location cues. Google claimed that Pigeon created a closer relationship between the local algorithm and core algorithm.
John Mueller made a surprise announcement on June 25 that Google would drop authorship photos from SERP results. These drops have been completed by June 28.
Less than a month after the Payday Loan 2.0 anti-spam update, Google launched another major iteration. Official announcements showed that the 2.0 update targeted certain sites while 3.0 targeted spammy queries.
Google confirmed a major Panda update that included algorithm update and data refresh. About 7.5% of English queries were officially affected. While Matt Cutts said that the rollout date of the update was May 20, the data indicated an earlier time.
Right before Panda 4.0, Google updated the "payday loan" algorithm that specifically targets spammy queries. While the exact rollout date was unclear, the updates, one after another, made it difficult to sort the date out.
The chatter between algorithm trackers and webmasters increased substantially on March 24 and 25. Some said that a new and softer Panda update was coming. Many sites reported ranking changes but this update has never been confirmed by Google.
Google updated the page layout algorithm. Launched in January 2012, this update penalizes sites with too many ads above the fold.
As Matt Cutts claimed at Pubcon Las Vegas event, authorship mark-up was removed from 15% of the results over a month.
Google did not confirm an update and they claimed that they avoided updates around holiday times. MozCast reported a rise in some Partial-Match Domains but the patterns were unclear.
When the DNS errors in Google Webmaster tools were reported, many Google trackers observed unusual activities. Google did not confirm an update, and the reason and nature of this error were unclear.
After four and a half months, Google launched another Penguin update. According to 2.1 data, this was probably a data update and the Penguin algorithm did not experience any major changes. Although the overall impact was observed to be moderate, some webmasters reported serious effects.
Although it was announced on September 26, Google claimed that this update rolled out a month earlier. MozCast's data on August 20 and the flux on August 20 and 22 confirmed that it did happen in August. Being compared to Caffeine update, Hummingbird update is a core algorithm update that empowers changes to Knowledge Graph and semantic queries.
Google added a new type of news query called "in-depth articles" to make news queries more permanent and have detailed content. At the beginning of the query, it included links to 3 articles and appeared across almost 3% of searches that MozCast tracked.
Major sudden changes were recorded by MozCast on Friday (105˚F) and other resources indicated significant activity over the weekend. Google did not confirm this update.
According to MozCast data, KG entries increased by 50.4% overnight.
Google confirmed a Panda update but it was unclear whether this was one of the updates launched once every 10 days or something new. It is possible to say that this update was algorithmic and softened the previous Panda penalty system.
Matt Cutts from Google tweeted that they would have a multi-week update between June 12 and "the week after July 4". The nature of this update was unclear but some serious loss of rankings was experienced over that period, especially peaking on June 27. It is obvious that Google was testing some changes that were later rolled back.
Payday Loan is an update that targets spammy sites. The update was announced on June 11 while Matt Cutts claimed that it would roll out in 1-2 months.
Although it was not a real Panda Update, Matt Cutts made an important announcement at SMX Advanced revealing that Panda was still updating monthly but each update rolled out over more than 10 days. After Panda #25 update, those who are concerned did not expect such continuity.
Named by Google as "2.0", the impact of the 4th Penguin update was only moderate. The nature of the changes was unclear, but the evidence showed that Penguin 2.0 was targeted to page-level.
Google launched an update to control the diversity of domain crowding in SERP. The timing was unclear but it seemed that it was released in the United States right before Penguin 2.0 and possibly on the same day internationally.
Many reports on an algorithm update were published around May 9. (It was verified by high MozCast activity.) The nature of the update was unclear but many sites reported a significant amount of traffic loss.
Matt Cutts pre-announced a Panda update at SMX West, revealing that it was the last Panda update before it would be integrated into the core algorithm. The roll-out date was not officially confirmed but MozCast data suggested that it might have been March 13 or 14.
Google announced the first official update of 2013, claiming that this update would impact 1.2% of the queries. This update did not seem relevant to the meeting on January 17-18. (And Google did not confirm it.)
Google launched another Panda update right before Christmas. They officially called it a "refresh" and it impacted 1.3% of the English queries. It created a little more impact than Panda #21 and #22.
Google added this feature to non-English queries as well: Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and Italian. This update had more than just "translation", and expanded the KG capabilities.
After some confusion, Google launched 22nd Panda update but later it appeared to be data-only. This update came on another unnamed update around November 19.
Google rolled out the 21st Panda update about 5.5 weeks later than its latest Panda update. This was a smaller update, officially impacting only 1.1% of the English queries.
Google had announced a page layout algorithm change update in January. It's unclear whether this update was an algorithm change or data refresh like Panda.
While Google claimed that the next Penguin update would be major, a small Penguin data update rolled out impacting only "0.3" of the queries. Penguin update numbering was rebooted just like Panda update, and this was the 3rd Penguin release.
Google published a list of monthly search highlights. 65 updates for August and September included 7-results SERPs, Knowledge Graph expansion, updates to how the page quality is measured, and changes to how local results are determined.
After the EMD update, a quite major Panda (algorithm+data) update officially impacting 2.4% of the queries was released. As the name of 3X series started sounding odd, industry sources started to name Panda updates with numbers. (This was the 20th update.)
Google announced that their way of handling EMDs would change. This led to a large-scale devaluation. And reduced the presence of EMDs in MozCast by 10%. According to the official explanation, 0.6% of queries were impacted by volume.
Google rolled out another Panda update that was data-only.
Google rolled out another Panda data update with a fairly small impact. Since the numbers in Panda 3.0 series ended with 3.9, the new update was named 3.9.1.
Google made changes to the top 10 results for many queries, limiting it to 7 results. The research showed that this change rolled out over a few days, impacting 18% of the keywords.
After the summer gap, the June and July Search Quality Highlights rolled out as one large pack. This pack included some major updates such as Panda data and algorithm refreshes, improved rank-ordering function, ranking boost for "reliable sources", and changes to site clustering.
Google announced that the sites with repeated copyright violations would be penalized. It was announced to be effective as of the following week.
A month after Panda 3.8, Google rolled out a new Panda update. There was a flux of rankings for 5-6 days. Google claimed that 1% of the queries were impacted.
Google sent out a great number of unusual link warnings through Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console). However, they then announced that these new warnings would not indicate a serious problem.
Google rolled out Panda data refresh which included no algorithm changes. It had less impact than Panda 3.7.
Google rolled out an update which impacted less than 1% of the queries. The data showed that the impact of this update was higher than the previous one.
Google released monthly Search Highlights in May with 39 updates. These include major changes such as Penguin improvements, a better link-scheme detection, changes to title/snippet rewriting, and Google News updates.
After the Penguin algorithm update, Google rolled out its first targeted data update. The Penguin data was told to be processed outside of the main search index.
As a huge step for semantic search, Google introduced "Knowledge Graph". Knowledge Graph provided supplemental information about people, places, and other things integrated into SERP.
Google published the details of 52 updates and the changes to Penguin update related to them in April. This update included 15% more base index, improved pagination control, and update to site links.
After the Panda 3.5 update, Google rolled out a new Panda update. The impact of this update was fairly small.
Google finally rolled out "Webspam Update" which was later named "Penguin". The Penguin update included some spam factors such as keyword stuffing and impacted an estimated 3.1% of English queries.
Google rolled out a Panda data update during a busy week for algorithm. The changes made it difficult to measure the impact, but it was minimal because the update was routine.
After a few webmasters reporting ranking shifts, Google explained that a mistake had been made and some domains had been accidentally seen as "parked domain". Google claimed that this mistake caused penalties. It was not an intentional algorithm change.
Google rolled out a series of updates including 50 changes in March. These changes included the confirmation of Panda 3.4, and changes to anchor-text "scoring", image search, and how local intents are interpreted.
Google announced another Panda update on Twitter. Google's public statement suggested that Panda 3.4 would impact 1.6% of search results.
Google shared a small part of the search quality meeting. For everyone interested in algorithms, this video provides a lot of information about Google's process and priorities. Plus, the viewers had the opportunity to see Amil Singhal in action.
This local update more localized the organic results, and more tightly integrated local search data. The exact timing is unknown.
This pack had notable changes including many image-search updates, several refresh updates, and a Panda update.
It was a small update and rolled out 3 days after the 1st anniversary of Panda update. It was an unprecedented lifespan for a named update.
Many of the highlights released here were related to speed, currency, and spelling mistakes. Another significant announcement was that Panda was more tightly integrated to the main search index.
Google updated the page layout algorithm to devalue sites related to the ads above the fold. It was suspected that the previous Panda update had a similar factor. The update does not have an official name but it is said to be found "quite important" by some SEOs.
Google confirmed a Panda update but stated that no changes were made to the algorithm. It was unclear whether this update fit the "Panda Flux" scheme or was related to a more frequent data update.
Google announced a radical change to personalization. Google+ included social data and user profiles in SERPs. Google also added a new, prominent toggle button to shut off personalization.
This update pack included image search landing page quality detection, more relevant site links, richer snippets, and relevant query improvements. The line between an algorithm update and "feature" got a bit more blurred.
Google released its second 10-pack of updates, and announced that these packs would come out each month. The updates included relevant query refinement, park domain detection, blog search update, and image search update. Google did not specify the roll out date of updates.
After Panda 2.5, Google entered a phase called "Panda Flux", where updates were more frequent with less impact. Some market analysts called the 11/18 update 3.1 although it was not an official 3.0 update.
Matt Cutts released the last 10 algorithm update for more transparency. While the timeline was unclear and most of the updates were minor, they included information regarding how Google handled algorithm changes.
Google announced a refresh update which would have an impact up to 35% of the queries. This update primarily impacted time-sensitive results but focused on content as well.
Google announced that the search queries would be encrypted for privacy reasons. Unfortunately, it disrupted organic keyword referral data. The numbers increased in the weeks following the release.
Matt Cutts tweeted: "Expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks." and gave a number of about "2%". Other minor Panda updates occurred on 10/3, 10/13, and 11/18.
A month later, Google rolled out another Panda update. Details of the changes were unclear but some sites reported large-scale losses.
This was not an update but a very interesting announcement. Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed that Google made 516 updates in 2010. But the real shocker for those interested was that they had tested 13,000 updates in the last year.
Google introduced rel=”next” and rel=”prev” features to solve crawl and duplication problems caused by pagination. Google also announced that automatic integration and standardization for "View all" pages had been improved.
After a short experiment period, Google officially released expanded site links mostly for brand queries. At first, there were 12 of them but Google limited them to 6 shortly after the official roll out.
Google rolled out an international Panda update both for English queries and non-English (except for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) queries. Google reported that this update impacted 6%-9% of the queries in the affected countries.
Webmasters said that Google rolled out a new update. However, it was unclear whether new factors were introduced or Panda data and ranking factors were updated.
After a few social media failures, Google spurted with Google+. Google+ became popular among those who wanted to share content and was integrated into products such as Gmail. Google+ reached 10M users within 2 weeks.
Google continued to update sites and data affected by Panda, and version 2.2 was officially introduced. Panda updates were separate from the main index and the reminders of previous Google Dance updates.
Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft jointly announced their support for a combined approach to structured data. They also created several new "schemas" for richer search results.
Google appeared to have made some changes again to this update which was called "Panda 3.0" at first. The details of these changes were not specified by Google and their impact was minor.
Google rolled out this update to all English queries worldwide. New signals were integrated including data of site users blocked by Chrome browser or directly by SERP.
As an answer to the competition of major social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Google introduced the +1 button. Clicking the +1 button, users were allowed to influence search results in their social circles.
Impacting almost 12% of search results, this significant update targeted sites with inadequate and poor content, and other quality issues. Panda came up again a few months later and hit Europe in April 2011.
Google rolled out an update for a better content attribution. According to Matt Cutts, it impacted 2% of queries.
The harmful SEO activities of Overstock.com resulted in a Google penalty. JCPenny had also been penalized for similar activities. Both events resulted in a change in Google's attitude and foreshadowed the Panda update.
A magnifying glass icon appeared on Google search results, allowing visitors to quickly preview landing pages from SERPs. This signaled a new perspective for Google on the quality, design, and usability of landing pages.
After New York Times revealed how DecorMyEyes, an e-commerce site, was ranking based on negative reviews, Google made a rare move and released the algorithm to sites using similar tactics.
Google and Bing confirmed that they used social signals including Twitter and Facebook data to determine ranking. While many SEO officials suspected that it would happen, Matt Cutts said that this was a relatively new development.
Google Suggest was improved and Google Instant was launched, showing search results while the query was being typed. This worried SEOs all over the world but they soon realized that the impact was actually very small.
Although it was not a traditional algorithm update, Google started to allow the same domain to appear multiple times on a SERP. Previously, domains were limited to 1-2 listings, or 1 listing for indented results.
After months of testing, Google rolled out the infrastructure of the "Caffeine" update. "Caffeine" not only boosted the raw speed of Google but also integrated crawl and indexing more tightly, which (according to Google) resulted in a 50% fresher index.
In late April and early May, webmasters realized significant drops in their own long-tail traffic. Later on, Matt Cutts confirmed that "May Day" update was an algorithm change that affected long-tail traffic. Overshadowing Panda update, large-scale sites with poor content were hit hard.
Although "Places" rolled out in September 2009, it was only a part of Google Maps. The official release of "Google Places" rebranded the local business center. Places became more integrated into local search results and was added several new features such as new local advertising options.
Twitter, Google News, newly indexed content and several other sources were integrated into SERPs in real-time. Sources including social media continued to expand over time.
Google released the preview of a major infrastructure change that would speed up crawling, expand index, integrate indexing, and change ranking near real-time. The launch time spread over time. It started rolling out in the United States in early 2010 lasting until the end of the summer.
SEO experts reported a major update that seemed to favor large brands. Matt Cutts called Vince "a small change", but others said that it had a deep, long-lasting implication.
Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo announced that they supported "canonical tag". This tag sends canonicalization signals to search boots without affecting users.
With changes to its logo and a-box homepage, Google introduced the "suggest" part. The "suggest" part was the suggested searches in a drop-down below the search box as visitors typed their queries on the Google box. This suggest part later empowered Google Instant.
Major complications were experienced by Google at the end of March and early April, with the details unknown. Some suspected that Google put forward its internal applications such as "Google Books", but the evidence was limited.
The update was named "Buffy" in honor of Venessa Fox leaving Google. While no one could understand what changes were made, Matt Cutts said that Buffy involved a combination of small changes.
Google dramatically changed its format, integrating traditional search results with news, videos, images, and local information. The old 10-listing was officially gone.
An update was expected in December because of some case analyses of major ranking changes in November, but Google announced that no changes had been made.
During 2006, Google seemed to make some changes to how the main index number and filtered pages were handled. Although some felt that it was not the case in late 2006, they claimed that this update was not a penalty.
Technically, "Big Daddy" was an infrastructure update. (more like Caffeine) It rolled out over a few months and finalized in March 2006. Big Daddy changed the way Google handled canonicalization, redirects (301/302), and other technical issues.
After launching the Local Business Center in March 2005 and encouraging businesses to update their information, Google merges its maps data with LBC, which was a step to finally lead to a few changes in local SEO.
Google launched a series of updates that mostly targeted low-quality links including reciprocal links, link farms, and paid links. Jagger rolled out in at least 3 phases from September 2005 to November 2005. The highest impact was seen in October.
Some call Gilligan a false update. Webmasters observed some changes but Google said that no major algorithm updates were made. Matt Cutts wrote a blog post explaining that Google updated index data daily (at the time) but the PR Toolbar and some other metrics were updated only once every 3 months.
Google allowed webmasters to load XML sitemaps through Webmaster Tools by bypassing traditional HTML sitemaps. SEO experts had direct influence over crawling and indexing.
Unlike previous personalization attempts which required custom settings and profiles, "personalized search" that rolled out in 2005 linked directly into users' search history to adjust results automatically. Although its impact was small at first, Google would go on to use this search history for many applications.
"GoogleGuy" (someone like Matt Cutts) announced that Google was rolling out "about 3.5 changes in search quality". No one was sure what a 0.5 change was, but the members of WebMaster World estimated that the Bourbon update changed the attitude towards duplicate content and non-canonical (www vs non-www) URLs.
Webmasters noticed the ranking changes but the details of this update were unclear. Some said that "Allegra" affected the "sandbox" sorting system, while others believed that some adjustments were made to LSI. Some others said that Google started penalizing suspicious links.
Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft collectively introduced "nofollow" feature to fight spam and control outbound link quality. Nofollow helps clean up the unconfirmed links. These links include spammy blog comment links. Although it was not a traditional algorithm update, this change had a gradual, significant impact on the link graphic.
Although not an algorithm update, it is an important event in Google history. Google sold its 19M shares, and raised 1.67 billion dollars in capital. Setting its market value at over 20 billion dollars, Google's share prices raised more than two times since January 2005.
Google released a variety of changes including major index expansion. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) raised attention to link text relevance and the concept of link neighborhood. LSI improved Google's capability to understand synonyms and carried keyword analysis to the next level.
The Austin update completed what the Florida update was missing. Google continued to take harsh precautions against deceptive page tactics such as invisible text and META-tag stuffing. Some speculated that Google put the "Hilltop" algorithm into play and started to take page relevance seriously.
This update created a map for the updates made (probably in the SEO industry). Many sites lost ranking and business owners got mad. Florida made this game much more interesting by sounding the death knell for low-value SEO tactics from the late 90s such as keyword stuffing.
To index more documents without losing performance, Google split off some results into "supplemental index". The methods of having results supplemental became a hotly debated SEO topic until the index was re-integrated.
With the Fritz update, monthly Google Dance finally ended. Assuming a marginal approach, Google started changing the index daily instead of handling it on a monthly basis.
This was the last usual monthly Google update, with a continuous update process emerging. “Ever flux” replaced "Google Dance”. Esmeralda probably heralded major infrastructure changes at Google.
While many changes were observed in May, the nature of Dominic was unclear. Google bots “Freshbot” and “Deepcrawler” searched the web and many sites reported spikes. The way Google counted or reported back-links seemed to be radically changing.
Google started taking extreme precautions against some basic link quality issues. These precautions included massive linking from common domains. Cassandra was also very cautious about hidden texts and hidden links.
Boston was the first-named Google update announced at SES Boston. Actually, Google was targeting a major monthly update and that's why the first few updates were a combination of algorithm changes and major index refreshes (so-called Google Dance). As updates became more frequent, the idea of monthly updates quickly died.
Before the "Boston" update, the first-named update, there was a major shuffle going on in the fall of 2002. This update, details of which were unclear, was more effective than monthly updates such as Google Dance and Pagerank.
In order to guarantee SEO arguments lasting for years, Google launched its first browser toolbar and Toolbar PageRank (TBPR) along with it. As soon as webmasters started using TBPR, Google Dance began.