Google algorithms are updated frequently to guarantee that users receive the best search results. These updates have made Google a preferred search engine, as Google puts their users first.
Web admins and search engine optimization (SEO) professionals need to stay up-to-date on the latest changes.
The History of Google Algorithm Updates: 2012–today
Today, SEO has upgraded a lot in the past ten years.
One crucial explanation for this is that search engines have been constantly enhancing their algorithms to provide users with the best results.
Google has undergone multiple updates over the past ten years, and each one has had a significant impact.
This has helped Google to provide the desired result that the user needs, and thus it maintains nearly 90% of the market share among search engines.
Google algorithm updates are listed below, along with some of their searches and SEO ramifications.
What Are Google Algorithms?
By obtaining information from its search index, Google’s algorithms, a sophisticated system, quickly return the most pertinent results for a query.
The search engine uses various algorithms and ranking factors to rank websites on its search engine results pages (SERPs) according to relevance.
In the early years of Google, they built the basic Google algorithms, but it took lots of time to fix all the bolts and nuts through various algorithm updates. Most of these updates are negligible.
Google Algorithm Updates 2012:
Google Panda Algorithm Updates – May 2012
On May 19, Google acknowledged a significant Panda update that included an algorithm and data refresh.
Its primary goal was to elevate high-quality content, while lowering the ranking of low-quality websites. Many websites experienced changes in their search visibility due to the update’s significant impact on search results.
Original, high-quality content, user experience, and overall website credibility were the main considerations Panda 4.0 used to rank websites.
Google Pigeon Update – July 2014
On July 24, with an update that drastically changed some local results and altered how they handle and interpret location cues, Google rocked the world of local SEO.
The update aimed to enhance local search results and give users more precise, pertinent, and helpful local results.
The update changed how local search results were ranked, giving importance to traditional web ranking factors like relevance, prominence, and distance.
Additionally, the update made it simpler for Google to comprehend the context and intent behind local queries, improving user experience.
Overall, the Pigeon update significantly changed the search visibility of many companies and websites involved in local search.
According to Google, Pigeon strengthened the local and core algorithm(s) connections.
Authorship Removed Update August 2014
On June 28, Google announced that it would entirely remove authorship markup after the authorship photos were removed. The following morning, authorship bylines had vanished from all SERPs.
This update is called the Authorship Removal update that affected how authorship information was displayed in search results.
Before this change, Google displayed the author’s Google+ profile information and a thumbnail image of them next to the search result.
The update was a part of Google’s broader initiative to downplay Google+’s importance in its search algorithms.
Panda 4.1 update September 2014
On September 23, a significant Panda update that had an algorithmic component was announced by Google. They calculated that 3–5% of queries would be impacted. The precise timing was uncertain due to the “slow rollout.”
Google Panda 4.1, a small update to the Panda algorithm, was made public. Around 3–5% of search queries were affected by this update, which was made to increase the algorithm’s efficiency and accuracy.
The update was designed to make it easier to recognize low-quality content and penalize websites with little or duplicate content.
The Panda 4.1 update also improved how websites were assessed, making it simpler for Google to distinguish between high-quality and low-quality websites.
Many websites experienced changes in their search visibility as a result of the update’s significant impact on search results.
“In The News” Box
On October 1, Google changed the way the News-box results appeared but later revealed that they had expanded the news links to include a much wider range of potential websites.
Additionally, the number of news results in SERPs increased, and major news websites noted significant traffic changes.
Penguin 3.0 Update October 2014:
On October 17, more than a year after the release of the previous Penguin update (2.1), Google released a Penguin refresh.
1% of the US queries were reportedly affected by this update, which was smaller than anticipated and most likely data only (not a new Penguin algorithm).
Google claimed that the update was spread out over “weeks,” but the exact timing was ambiguous, particularly internationally.
Pirate 2.0 Update October 2014
On October 21, Google released yet another update to thwart the piracy of software and digital media more than two years after the initial DMCA/”Pirate” update.
A relatively small number of sites experienced dramatic drops in ranking as a result of this update, which was highly targeted.
Although only a small portion of search queries were affected, the update penalized websites found to be hosting copyrighted content without authorization in an effort to fight online piracy.
Google’s response to online piracy was strengthened by the Pirate 2.0 update, which also demonstrated the company’s dedication to upholding the rights of copyright holders.
The update also emphasized the need for websites to obtain permission before using or hosting copyrighted material and the significance of upholding intellectual property rights.
Penguin Everflux Update December 2014
On December 10, a Google representative claimed that Penguin had moved away from major, infrequent updates and toward ongoing updates.
Although the exact timeframe was unknown, this assertion fits the ongoing change following Penguin 3.0. (including unconfirmed claims of Penguin 3.1).
The update’s goal is to continuously improve how Google’s algorithm detects and penalizes manipulative or spammy link practices.
The Penguin algorithm’s operation underwent a significant change with the update as it switched from a periodic update model to a more continuous, real-time update model.
Instead of waiting for significant, infrequent updates, the Penguin Everflux update allowed Google to make more frequent, smaller adjustments to its algorithm.
The update had a big impact on search results because it made it possible for Google to better address spammy link practices in real-time and raise the standard of its search results as a whole.
Pigeon Expands: Update December 2014
On December 22, the “Pigeon” major local algorithm update by Google was extended to the UK, Canada, and Australia, in addition to the original Pigeon update’s target locale of local search results improvement.
The initial update arrived in the USA in July 2014. The update may have gone live as early as the 19th, but it was officially confirmed on the 22nd.
In these nations, the update had a significant impact on local search results, giving users more precise, pertinent, and helpful results for their local search queries.
The update emphasized the necessity of a strong local presence in order to rank well in local search results, reinforcing the significance of local search optimization for businesses and organizations.
The Pigeon Expands update gave companies new ways to connect with local customers and demonstrated Google’s dedication to enhancing the local search experience for users.
Google Algorithm Update 2015
Mobilegeddon Update April 2015
In a rare move, Google pre-announced an algorithm update, informing us that starting on April 21st, mobile rankings would be different for mobile-friendly sites.
This update had a much smaller immediate effect than anticipated, and according to our data, algorithm flux peaked on April 22nd.
The Quality Update May 2015
On May 3, Google acknowledged a fundamental algorithmic change affecting “quality signals” after receiving numerous reports on significant ranking changes that were initially dubbed “Phantom 2.”
The impact of this update appears to be widespread, but Google withheld any information regarding the specifics of the signals at play.
Panda 4.2 Update July 2015
On July 18, the Panda algorithm had previously been updated. About 2–3% of English-language queries were affected, which increased the algorithm’s precision and effectiveness.
The update improved Panda 4.1’s website evaluation process, making it simpler for Google to differentiate between high-quality and low-quality websites.
The update also added more ranking indicators to help Google more effectively recognize websites with scant or subpar content.
Many websites experienced changes in their search visibility as a result of the update’s significant impact on search results.
Google’s ongoing efforts to enhance the caliber of its search results and give users the best search experience possible were part of the Panda 4.2 update.
Google Rankbrain Update – October 2015
Machine learning powers the RankBrain algorithm, which analyzes user searches and sorts through billions of web pages to place the best ones at the top.
It was initially utilized on a “very large fraction” of search results before being rolled out and utilized by all Google searches.
Google Algorithm Updates 2016
Google Core Update January 2016
On January 6, the first algorithm change of the year, which Google aptly dubbed the “core update,” greatly impacted how many websites ranked.
Insisting that it was merely a quality update, Google insisted that it was unrelated to the Panda or Penguin updates.
Spam websites were essentially demoted in search results to make room for legitimate business websites.
With a focus on elevating high-quality, pertinent, and reliable content higher in the search results, the update was created to enhance the overall quality of Google’s search results.
The update had a sizable impact on search results and a sizable portion of search queries.
Many websites experienced changes in their search visibility, and some websites experienced notable traffic increases or decreases.
The Core Update reaffirmed how crucial it is to produce high-quality content and pay attention to the user experience because doing so will help you rank well in Google’s search results.
The update was a part of Google’s ongoing initiatives to give users the best search experience possible.
Mobile-Friendly Update February 2016
On February 12, Google acknowledged this update, which supported giving mobile-friendly websites on mobile searches a ranking boost.
If you recently optimized your website, this was good news for you because it raised your website’s ranking on mobile, where so many searches are made. Now is the right time to optimize your website.
AdWords Placement Update February 2016
The annoying right-hand ad bar vanished from Google searches at the end of February (February 23) after Google changed its AdWords settings.
Instead, the top four ads were now listed first after the search results, which was a significant improvement considering that only one to three ads were previously displayed.
Even though this was excellent for advertisers, organic search results and their click-through rates have suffered as a result of this change.
AMP Listings Update February 2016
Google introduced its AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) listings in mobile search results the day after the AdWords update.
As a result, the search results layout was altered once more; the AMP listings were now displayed above the top results or in a carousel format.
This was a significant development for publishers and advertisers because it gave them better click-through rates and increased visibility.
Mobile-Friendly 2 Update May 2016
Google implemented a new ranking signal boost to favor mobile-friendly sites on mobile search just over a year after the initial “mobile friendly” update.
The majority of the websites we monitor are already responsive to mobile devices, so the impact of the most recent update was probably minimal.
Possum Update September 2016
The Possum update, which focuses on the 3-pack and local results—more commonly known as Google Maps results—went live in September.
Even though Google, once more, has not confirmed this, it significantly impacted website rankings based on local factors and helped hide spam sites.
The update’s goal was to enhance local search results and give users more precise and pertinent information.
With a focus on relevance and closeness to the searcher’s location, the update changed how Google ranked local results.
Additionally, the update made it simpler for Google to comprehend the context and intent behind local search queries, improving user experience.
Local search results were significantly impacted by the Possum update, with many businesses and websites involved in local search experiencing changes in their search visibility.
The update confirmed the value of local search optimization and demonstrated Google’s dedication to enhancing users’ local search experiences.
Penguin 4.0 Update September 2016
Penguin 4 was introduced after a two-year hiatus and helped to significantly reduce spam on a page-by-page basis. The most important aspect of this update is that it is still in progress.
As a result, companies with web pages that have been penalized can quickly make changes, and Google will immediately assess the changes.
Businesses won’t be prohibited or suspended anymore due to a methodical algorithm update.
Unconfirmed Update 2016
Lastly, Google released the third unconfirmed update to cap off the year. According to rumors, this update was related to the mobile-first index testing that would eventually be implemented.
There were conflicting opinions about the change’s strength and overall impact, and only those with their finger on the SERPs pulse were aware of it.
It’s reasonable to assume that this was a minor update that will be connected to upcoming algorithm updates and the general situation with website rankings.
Google Algorithm Updates 2017:
Google Core Update March 2017
John Mueller from Google has confirmed that the algorithm update on March 7th did not specifically target low quality sites. Instead, it was more about the content’s relevance.
In order to start, Mueller explains that the majority of Google’s algorithm updates are relevant-focused. It is not a sign that a site’s content is of low quality if rankings were impacted by last month’s update.
Mueller claims that a lot of websites eventually become less relevant, regardless of how good the content is.
Mueller advises getting user feedback on what you might be doing differently to enhance the site overall in order to determine how to make a site more relevant.
Quality Update August 2017
On August 19–20, webmasters and SEO ranking tools noticed some minor volatility; there are indications that this may have been the result of another (unconfirmed) Google quality update.
According to an analysis by Glenn Gabe(GSQi president) category pages, pages with aggressive advertising, lower-quality/thin content, and other detrimental user experience elements are among the ranking casualties.
Pages that were impacted (positively or negatively) on this date were further impacted on August 19, leading some to speculate that Google started testing this algorithm on August 14.
Fall flux Update September 2017
Industry rumors and SEO tracking tools suggested that a (yet-unconfirmed) Google update might have taken place on this day.
Beginning on September 8, Glenn Gabe, the CEO of G-Squared Interactive, also observed a number of notable Google changes affecting traffic and search visibility.
Additional turbulence and fluctuations then occurred on September 18, 25, and 29, as well as on October 4, 8, and 12.
Maccabees Update December 2017
Some search community members claimed updates between December 12 and December 14 had affected their websites.
Google acknowledged a few small adjustments to the fundamental algorithm during that time but downplayed their importance.
Google Algorithm Update 2018
Broad Core Algorithm Update March 2018:
Google acknowledged a “broad core algorithm update” had been implemented the previous week on Twitter on March 12.
Google did not provide many specifics, but it did state that the modifications were made to “benefit pages that were previously under-rewarded” and that everyone should “continue building great content.”
Broad Core Algorithm Update April 2018:
Google announced the rollout of a new broad core algorithm update on Twitter and said it was similar to the one from March 9, 2018, which focused on content relevance.
Updates to the core algorithm have a substantial impact on many websites’ rankings across industries.
Despite the fact that they received a lot of attention particularly around the August 2018 Core Update more than just health-related websites were impacted by Google’s broad core algorithm updates.
Google Medic Update – August 2018
This is also known as the Medic update by some SEO specialists. August 8 marked the completion of this update.
For the third time this year, Google has acknowledged the release of a broad core algorithm update via Twitter.
Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan advised doing as instructed after the March 9, 2018 update.
Even though Google stated that this update was a general ranking update and wasn’t specifically targeting medical sites, some in the industry have dubbed it “Medic.”
Google Algorithm Updates 2019
Google Core Update March 2019
A global broad core algorithm update has been released, according to Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan, who confirmed this via Twitter.
This update is one of the most significant Google updates in recent memory, according to SEJ. Sullivan reiterated its recommendation to adhere to the instructions it gave after the March 9, 2018 update.
Google Core Update – June 2019
On June 2, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan tweeted that Google would release a new broad core algorithm update on June 3rd.
The following day, Google announced the update was live and would gradually roll out to all of its data centers.
Google claims that there is nothing specific to fix because a core update takes a broad range of factors into account, as is the case with any major update to the core algorithm.
Featured Snippets Update August 2019
Google revealed an adjustment to the algorithm that affects how recent featured snippets are in search results.
With the help of this update, Google will be able to discover the featured snippets that are most relevant to recent information for queries.
The update was made in order to make Google’s featured snippets in its search results more useful and informative for users.
The change made it simpler for Google to determine which content is the most pertinent and helpful for a given search query and to show it as a featured snippet at the top of the search results.
This improved the search experience and made it easier for users to find the information they needed.
The Featured Snippets update significantly changed search results and emphasized how crucial it is to give users high-quality, pertinent, and helpful content.
It was a part of Google’s ongoing initiatives to raise the caliber of its search outcomes and give users the best search experience possible.
Broad Core Algorithm Update September 2019
A broad update to Google’s core algorithm would be released in a few hours, according to a tweet from Danny Sullivan, and it would take a few days to fully roll out.
The advice provided by Google was the same as it had been for all other recent updates to the core algorithm.
As previously stated, Google’s advice in relation to this update is unchanged. Here is a quick recap of Google’s recommendations for core updates
It is reasonable to anticipate widespread noticeable effects, such as changes in search engine rankings.
Core updates are “broad,” i.e., they don’t focus on any particular issue. Instead, they aim to enhance Google’s systems as a whole.
- Pages that experience a drop in rankings aren’t subject to any penalties; rather, their performance is being compared to other web content that has been published since the last update.
- Large-scale updates to the core occur periodically. Sites may take some time to recover from one update before the next one is released.
- Recovery is not always assured by improvements. However, deciding against making any improvements will all but ensure no recovery.
BERT Update October 2019
The BERT Update was announced by Google, who described it as the biggest update to Google search in the past five years.
Google employs BERT models to comprehend search queries better. Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT, will be used on 10% of the USA.
BERT uses machine learning to enhance user query comprehension and deliver more pertinent results.
Local Search Update November 2019
Updates to local search emphasize improving user experience with local search results. Usually, they are rebalancing factors like prominence, distance, and relevance.
In this particular update, neural matching was also added, which aids Google in comprehending the relationships between words and concepts. The revision was finished on December 2nd.
International BERT Roll-out update December 2019
BERT uses machine learning to enhance user query comprehension and deliver more pertinent results.
Google’s Danny Sullivan tweeted that BERT’s global rollout had started and that it now supported the following languages:
- Chinese (Simplified & Taiwan)
- French, etc.
Google Algorithm Updates 2020
Google Core Update January 2020
A major core algorithm update was about to be released, Google’s Danny Sullivan tweeted.
As it did for all other recent broad core algorithm updates, Google once more offered advice.
Featured Snippet De-duping update January 2020
Your page will now only appear once in the SERPs thanks to this update. A page could previously have both a featured snippet and an organic listing.
Websites in the featured snippet position will no longer be repeated in the regular Page 1 organic listings, Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter. Worldwide, this change impacted 100% of all search results.
Google Core Update December 2020
The December 2020 Core Update will be made available on December 3, 2020, according to Google.
This is the year’s third update to the core algorithm. Compared to the typical interval between these types of updates, quite some time has elapsed since the most recent core update.
Google Algorithm Updates 2021
Product reviews update April 2021
The first Google update for product reviews went live on April 8, 2021. Although Google stated that this was not a core update and only affected English content, much of the recovery guidance still applied.
Although there may have been some edge case tremors later, Google effectively finished rolling out that update on April 22, 2021, taking about two weeks to do so.
The data providers stated that while that update was substantial, it was not as substantial as a typical core update.
Google’s page experience for Mobile update June 2021
The Page Experience Update was released by Google on June 15, 2021, after being delayed by a few months.
That rollout took a while; it began rolling out a few months ago and was completed around September 2, 2021.
As a reminder, there shouldn’t have been any significant ranking changes for this release in Google Search.
Because of the slow rollout, Google initially cautioned users not to anticipate significant changes.
Google Core Update June 2021
The June 2021 core update, which started rolling out on June 2, 2021, was Google’s first core update of the year after a lengthy release process.
That update was fully implemented on June 12, 2021, about ten days after it began.
Based on the information provided to us by various data providers, this core update appeared to have been a slow rollout with a lot of inconsistent results.
Spam update June 2021
On June 23, 2021, Google released a spam update that was active for only one day. A 24-hour update was made to Google Search to combat spamming.
Then, the week after, Google released the June 28 spam update, part two. A 24-hour rollout of that update also began and ended on the same day.
Google Core Update July 2021
On July 1, 2021, Google released the July 2021 core update, which was essentially a continuation of the June 2021 core update that had just been released.
The rollout of this update took roughly 12 days, and it was finished on July 12, 2021. According to the data providers, the July core update was released quickly compared to the June core update.
Link spam update July 2021
The July link spam update that Google released the following month went into effect on July 26, 2021.
Google predicted that the rollout would be finished in about two weeks, but it actually took four weeks to complete, two weeks longer than anticipated.
The rollout, which targeted spammy links that attempted to skew Google search results, ended on August 24, 2021.
Google Core update November 2021
Then, a few months later, Google surprised us with the November 2021 core update, which went live on November 17, 2021, just in time for the busy holiday shopping season.
Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday saw the rollout of that update, which was finished on November 30, 2021, 13 days after it began.
According to the data, the November core update hit hard and quickly, but many SEOs felt caught off guard by the timing of that update.
Product reviews update December 2021
If the initial April update to the product reviews wasn’t enough, Google launched the December 2021 product reviews update on December 1 of that same year.
The rollout of that update took about three weeks, and it was finished a few days before Christmas, on or about December 21, 2021.
Google’s local update November 2021
Google confirmed after the rollout was complete that it performed a local search update in late November, not to be outdone by the web search algorithmic updates.
That update began on November 30, 2021 and ended on December 8, 2021.
MUM: Multitask United Model
MUM, which stands for “Multitask United Model,” gives away the strength of this new algorithm by indicating that it can manage several tasks at once.
More than 75 languages can be read, understood, and learned using various media, including video and audio!
The concept behind MUM is to combine data from various sources to deliver multi-layered responses to challenging search queries.
The COVID-19 vaccine searches have already demonstrated it, but that is only the beginning.
Don’t anticipate significant changes to occur overnight because Google’s MUM AI will be gradually implemented over the ensuing months and years.
Local search update November 2021
Updates to local search emphasize improving user experience with local search results.
Usually, they are rebalancing factors like prominence, distance, and relevance. The revision was finished on December 8th.
Google Core update November 2021
This one was the third and last core update of 2022. The November 2021 core update, like all of Google’s core updates, had a significant impact on websites and SEO in all languages and took about two weeks to roll out fully.
Product Reviews Update December 2021
Content that demonstrates first-hand familiarity and expertise with the products is given priority in product review updates. December 21st marked the completion of this update.
Google Algorithm Updates 2022
Desktop Page Experience Update February 2022
On February 23, 2022, Google came up with Page Experience update for desktop feature pages that provide excellent user experiences.
This includes what is known as Core Web Vitals, or metrics for speed, safe browsing, intrusive interstitials, and mobile friendliness. On March 3rd, this update was completed.
Product Reviews Update March 2022
Content that demonstrates first-hand familiarity and expertise with the products is given priority in product review updates. On April 11th, this update was completed.
Google Core Update May 2022
The broad core algorithm was updated for the first time in 2022 and in more than six months.
The full rollout could take up to two weeks, according to Google. Like all previous core updates, Google has made significant adjustments to how its ranking algorithms evaluate content.
Product Reviews Update July 2022
Content that demonstrates first-hand familiarity and expertise with the products is given priority in product review updates.
This update, which was finished on August 2, focuses exclusively on product reviews in English.
Helpful Content Update August 2022
Updates to helpful content encourage the creation of more unique, valuable content by people, for people as opposed to content produced primarily for search engine traffic. The rollout of this update could take up to two weeks.
September Core algorithm update September 2022
When modifications are made that are significant enough to be noticed by publishers and search marketers, Google announces a core algorithm update.
A change to several components of Google’s algorithm is known as a core algorithm update. Although the algorithm constantly evolves, a core algorithm update is usually more obvious.
As the changes are implemented in data centers, anticipate seeing the algorithm changes within the next few days.
There is no evidence to support how this affects search engine results pages (SERPs) across the globe and in various languages.
Product Reviews Update September 2022
Despite being a typical update, this one generated a lot of buzz because it was released one week after the core update and just before the helpful content update.
Spam update October 2022
The October 2022 spam update, which was the first of the year, was released on October 19, 2022. The implementation of this update lasted just 48 hours, ending on October 21, 2022.
To more effectively identify spam and de-rank it in Google Search, Google used SpamBrain, a type of artificial intelligence.
Although the spam update didn’t seem significant, it was targeting spam rather than content created by regular people for regular purposes.
Google Helpful Content System Update December 2022
The helpful content update increased attention on the value of the content that appears in search results.
It all comes down to rewarding “people-first” content or material that genuinely responds to users’ inquiries and offers a satisfying user experience.
Although the initial effects on search results were minimal, Google has stated this is a continuing trend.
The helpful content update is part of an ongoing effort to clean up the SERPs by removing unreliable results and making room for more voices from various backgrounds.
Sites with a lot of low-quality content are particularly affected by this update, so they might need to rank better in search.
Link Spam Update December 2022
The December 2022 link spam update was then made available by Google on December 14, 2022. The launch of this update, which ended on January 12, 2023, took 29 days.
Google used SpamBrain AI for the first time to identify and eliminate link spam in this instance. It appeared to have an effect on rankings and links.
Finally, we come onto Search Quality Rater Guidelines – an updated version was released earlier this year, which includes additional guidelines related specifically towards evaluating websites from an EAT perspective(Expertise Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness).
This means sites must demonstrate expertise within their field by providing high-quality content written by experts, showing authority over other competing sites with links from reputable sources.
All these points together should result in improved organic rankings if implemented correctly.
Overall, each of these algorithm updates focuses heavily on creating a better overall user experience – something essential given today’s competitive online landscape where businesses need every advantage available to keep afloat amid fierce competition both domestically and internationally.