History of Google Algorithm Updates

History of Google Algorithm Updates

What are Google Algorithms?

Google’s algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query. The search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking factors to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

In its early years, Google only made a handful of updates to its algorithms. Now, Google makes thousands of changes every year.

Most of these updates are so slight that they go completely unnoticed. However, on occasion, the search engine rolls out major algorithmic updates that significantly impact the SERPs such as:

  • Florida
  • Big Daddy
  • Jagger
  • Vince
  • Caffeine
  • Panda
  • Freshness Algorithm
  • Page Layout Algorithm
  • Venice Update
  • Penguin
  • EMD (Exact Match Domain)
  • Payday
  • Hummingbird
  • Pigeon
  • Mobilegeddon
  • Quality Updates
  • RankBrain
  • Fred

Below we have compiled a full list of Google algorithm launches, updates, and refreshes that have rolled out over the years, as well as links to resources for SEO professionals who want to understand each of these changes.

All Updates

August 25, 2022

Helpful Content Update

Google announced the launch of the Helpful Content Update, which began on August 25th. Content creators can learn more about how to create content for people first on the Search Central blog.

July 27, 2022

July 2022 Product Reviews Update

Google announced the release of the July 2022 Product Reviews Update on July 27th, which was completed on August 2nd. Ecommerce marketers can refer to Google Search Central’s documentation on how to write high-quality product reviews for more information.

May 22, 2022

May 2022 Core Update

Google announced via Twitter the release of a broad core update, named the May 2022 Core Update. This is part of a series of updates Google makes to the overall ranking process throughout the year. This update began on May 22, 2022, and was completed on June 9, 2022.

March 23, 2022

March 2022 Product Algorithm Update

Google announced via the Search Central Blog an update to product review rankings that would enable them to identify high-quality reviews.  The update should take a few weeks to complete.

You can learn more about the quest to provide better product reviews to search users on The Keyword and get Google’s advice on how to write high-quality product reviews.

February 22, 2022

Page Experience Update

Google announced via Twitter that the page experience update is slowly rolling out for desktop search, expected to be completed in March 2022. Google offers developers more information about the page experience update on Google Search Central.

December 1, 2021

December 2021 Product Review Update

Google announced via the Google Search Central Twitter account that the December 2021 Product Review Update began rolling out for English language pages today, and is estimated to take three weeks to complete. They shared a link to a blog post on product review updates and your website for more information.

November 30, 2021

November 2021 Local Search Update

Google announced via Twitter a November 2021 Local Search Update that began on November 30th and was completed on December 8th. Google also suggested that businesses review their guidance on how to improve local rankings.

November 17, 2021

Broad Core Update

Google Search Central announced via Twitter that a broad core update would be released later that day. They referred webmasters to their documentation on what site owners need to know about core updates, last updated in August 2019.

November 3, 2021

Google Spam Update

According to a tweet from Google Search Liasion, a spam update was rolled out from November 3 – 11, 2021 as a part of their regular work to improve search results. They suggested in their announcement that webmasters should continue following Webmaster Guidelines.

July 26, 2021

Google announced an algorithm update aimed at identifying and nullifying link spam was beginning to roll out. Google warned that any sites taking part in link spam tactics could see ranking changes – with sponsored, guest, and affiliate content most likely to be impacted. Google said the update should be fully rolled out in “at least” two weeks and will impact multiple languages.

July 12, 2021

July 2021 Core Update Completed

Google Search Liaison confirmed via Twitter that the July 2021 Core Update rollout was effectively completed on July 12th. No additional details were provided.

July 1, 2021

July 2021 Core Update

Google Search Liaison announced via Twitter the July 2021 Core Update is rolling out and will take one to two weeks to complete. Google’s guidance for core updates can be found on the Google Search Central Blog.

June 28, 2021

Spam Update Part 2

Google Search Liaison announced via Twitter that the second part of their spam update has begun on June 28th and will likely be completed on the same day. The original announcement referred to a post on the Google Search Central Blog, updated in April 2021, on how Google fought Search spam in 2020.

June 23, 2021

June 2021 Spam Update

Google’s Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter an algorithm update targeted at fighting spam was rolling out to search results. The rollout of the update was to be completed the same day. He added that a second spam update would follow within a week. Google revealed no specific details on what this update was targeting.

June 15, 2021

Page Experience Update

Google confirms its long-awaited Page Experience update has started rolling out. Sites should not expect to see drastic changes as a result of this update, Google says, and any sudden drops or spikes should be mitigated by the gradual rollout process. The rollout will be completed by the end of August 2021.

June 10, 2021

Known Victims Protection

On June 10, Pandu Nayak,
Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, published a post on The Keyword blog. In it, he discussed Google’s work towards improving the algorithm to demote sites that “employ exploitative removals practices” and “predatory practices.” He also shared a link people can use to report online harassment.

June 2, 2021

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter that a broad core algorithm update was about to be released. Sullivan also noted that some planned improvements weren’t quite ready for this update, so the parts that weren’t ready will be rolled out as part of second, related broad core algorithm update, scheduled for July.

April 8, 2021

Product Reviews Update

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.” In their announcement, Google also shared nine useful questions to consider when creating and publishing product reviews.

February 10, 2021

Passage Ranking

Google’s Public Liaison for Search, Danny Sullivan, announced via Twitter that Passage Ranking officially launched for English-language queries in the United States. According to Google: “This change doesn’t mean we’re indexing individual passages independently of pages. We’re still indexing pages and considering info about entire pages for ranking. But now we can also consider passages from pages as an additional ranking factor….”

December 3, 2020

December 2020 Core Update

Google confirms a core algorithm update, the December 2020 Core Update, is rolled out on December 3, 2020. This is the third core algorithm update of the calendar year. A fair amount of time has passed since the last core update, compared to the average time between these types of updates.

Read more about this update below.

May 4, 2020

May 2020 Core Update

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter that Google would be releasing a broad core algorithm update. About 90 minutes later, he announced the update was underway and would take 1-2 weeks to completely roll out.

January 22, 2020

Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter that webpages in a featured snippet position will no longer be repeated in regular Page 1 organic listings. This change affected 100% of all search listings, worldwide.

January 13, 2020

January 2020 Core Update

Google’s Danny Sullivan announced via a tweet that a broad core algorithm update was about to be released. Google again provided the same guidance as for all other recent broad core algorithm updates.

December 9, 2019

BERT (Worldwide)

Google’s Danny Sullivan tweeted that BERT was beginning its worldwide rollout, and included the following languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Azeri, Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified & Taiwan), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Kazakh, Khmer, Korean, Kurdish, Kyrgyz, Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian Malay (Brunei Darussalam & Malaysia), Malayalam, Maltese, Marathi, Mongolian, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, and Vietnamese.

October 25, 2019

BERT Update

Google announced the BERT Update, calling it the biggest change to Google search in the past 5 years. Google uses BERT models to better understand search queries. Google said this change impacted both search rankings and featured snippets and BERT (which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) will be used on 10 percent of U.S. English searches.

September 24, 2019

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google’s Danny Sullivan announced via a tweet that a broad core algorithm update would be released within a few hours and it would take a few days to complete rolling out. Google’s guidance was the same as it had been for all other recent core algorithm updates.

August 1, 2019

Google announced an update to the algorithm affecting the freshness of featured snippets in search results. This update will allow Google to find the freshest featured snippets for queries where current information will be most useful.

June 2, 2019

June 2019 Core Update

On June 2, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan tweeted that Google would be releasing a new broad core algorithm update on June 3. The next day, Google confirmed the update was live and would be rolling out to its various data centers over the coming days. As is the case with any broad core algorithm update, Google tells us there is nothing specific to fix because a core update encompasses a broad range of factors.

March 12, 2019

March 2019 Core Update (a.k.a. Florida 2)

Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter the release of a global broad core algorithm update. SEJ confirmed this update is particularly important and one of the biggest Google updates in years. Sullivan once again recommended following the guidance it provided following the March 9, 2018 update.

February 13, 2019

Valentine’s Day Update

Algorithm trackers and industry chatter indicated some sort of unconfirmed update took place on and before this date. However, unlike other updates, mostly positive changes in rankings were being reported.

October 31, 2018

Unconfirmed Halloween Update

Some webmasters reported changes starting around Halloween, perhaps indicating an (unconfirmed) Google update. But there was little evidence of a significant update here. The more likely cause of the chatter was spillover from the August broad core algorithm update and Google ramping up its use of neural matching.

September 27, 2018

A “Small” Update

On September 27 (Google’s 20th birthday), many within the SEO community began noticing significant spikes and drops in traffic, indicating some sort of update was underway. Some of the sites impacted by the August broad core algorithm update reportedly made a recovery. Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter September 29 that some sort of “smaller” update had taken place (but it wasn’t a broad core algorithm update).

August 1, 2018

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google confirmed via Twitter for the third time this year the rollout of a broad core algorithm update. In doing so, Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan recommended following the guidance it provided following the March 9, 2018 update. This update has been referred to as “Medic” by some in the industry, even though Google said it was a general ranking update and wasn’t specifically targeting medical sites.

April 16, 2018

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google confirmed via Twitter the release of another broad core algorithm update, and indicated it was similar to the March 9, 2018 update, which was about content relevance.

March 9, 2018

Broad Core Algorithm Update

On March 12, Google confirmed via Twitter that a “broad core algorithm update” had rolled out the prior week. While Google was light on details, Google said the changes were meant to “benefit pages that were previously under-rewarded,” and advised everyone to “continue building great content.”

December 12, 2017

Maccabees Update

Some in the search community reported their websites being hit by update between December 12 and 14. Google confirmed several minor changes to the core algorithm during the timeframe, but downplayed the significance of the period of flux.

September 8, 2017

Fall Flux

Industry chatter and SEO tracking tools indicated some sort of (still unconfirmed) Google update may have occurred on this date. Glenn Gabe, president of G-Squared Interactive, also detected several noteworthy Google changes impacting traffic and search visibility starting September 8. This was followed by additional volatility and fluctuations on September 18, 25, and 29, as well as October 4, 8, and 12.

August 19, 2017

Quality Update

Webmasters and SEO ranking tools detected some minor volatility on August 19-20, with signs indicating this may have been another (unconfirmed) Google quality update. Among the ranking casualties: category pages, pages with aggressive advertising, lower-quality/thin content, and other negative user experience elements, according to an analysis by Glenn Gabe, president of GSQi. There was some speculation that Google began testing this algorithm on August 14 because pages that were impacted (either positively or negatively) on this date were further impacted on August 19.

July 9, 2017

Quality Update

SEO ranking tools detected some minor volatility on July 9, potentially another (unconfirmed) Google quality update.

June 25, 2017

June 25 Update

Various SEO tracking tools detected a significant, though unconfirmed, Google update on this date. One analysis found that this update caused the biggest fluctuations for pages ranking in Positions 6-10. While it impacted most niches, the good and beverage industry was reportedly impacted the most.

Source: searchenginejournal.com

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