Google is consistently updating its algorithm to ensure it is serving up the most relevant and secure pages for visitors.
This page covers all of the Google algorithm updates for SEO that have occurred since 2012. The Ignite Visibility team updates this post on a weekly basis.
The Google timeline history has been compiled based on Ignite Visibility insight, as well as announcements from Google, articles from Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable, Moz, and Search Engine Journal. This is one of the most complete lists of Google update history that impact SEO online you can find.
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What is a Google Algorithm Update?
A Google algorithm update is when Google makes changes to the way its search engine finds results for user inquiries. Algorithm updates improve the relevance of search results as well as the quality of the user experience. Because the internet is constantly changing, the algorithm needs to change often in order to keep up. These updates ensure that Google’s users will find the most relevant, accurate, and timely information each and every time they search.
Some Google algorithm updates make a big splash, while others are so small that they often go unnoticed by the general public. The history of Google algorithm updates is a long one but we’ve compiled all of the information you need to know here in one place! Be sure to bookmark this page and check back frequently to stay up-to-date on all of the changes Google makes as they make them.
Google Algorithm Updates 2023
Google Update – Reviews Update – April 2023
No one likes a fake review, even Google. That’s why they rolled out the Reviews Update on April 12, 2023, and it took until April 25th to be completed. Instead of pushing inaccurate reviews, this update highlights reviews that were written by experts, producing evidence of their expertise, evaluating the thing being reviewed from a consumer standpoint, and including links to other helpful resources.
Google Update – Core Algorithm Update – March 2023
One of the biggest core updates so far took place on March 15th and was completed on March 28th. It affected content in every language and every region but if you produce high-quality content, you shouldn’t have had anything to worry about. The goal of this update was to reward and promote those putting out quality content that users could trust. According to Semrush, the March 2023 update shuffled the SERP rankings more than the previous update in September 2022. There were also more drastic fluctuations and changes in rank.
Google Update – Product Reviews Update – February 2023
On February 21, 2023, Google unleashed its sixth update to the product reviews algorithm. It took two weeks to roll out fully and applied to 11 different languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Indonesian, Dutch, Russian, Vietnamese, Polish, and Portuguese. This update aimed to reward “insightful analysis and original research,” not necessarily penalize poor content. While Google did not release information on which percentage of searches would be affected, it did note that the update could affect a brand’s performance in Google Discover.
Google Algorithm History 2022
Google Update – Link Spam Update – December 14, 2022
On December 14, 2022, Google announced that they will begin using SpamBrain, their AI-based spam prevention system, to neutralize unnatural links on SERPs in all languages. They noted that it would take two weeks to fully roll out but that users may begin seeing changes in rankings as spam links are being removed.
Google Update – Helpful Content Update – December 5, 2022
The December 2022 helpful content update aims to target websites in all languages that are written primarily for search engines and not to provide helpful, quality content for its users. The goal of this update is to push out higher-quality content to Google’s users while eliminating low-quality content. It was announced on December 5, 2022, and took until January 12, 2023, to fully roll out.
Google Update – October 2022 Spam Update – October 19, 2022
The Google October 2022 spam update was released on October 19, 2022. Its goal was to improve SpamBrain, the AI-based spam prevention system, that Google uses to detect and eliminate spam. This update was completed on October 21, 2022.
Google Update – September 2022 Product Review Algo Update – September 20, 2022
On September 20, 2022, Google rolled out its September 2022 Product Review Algorithm Update. The fifth algorithm update in a series in Google update history, this update applied to sites that publish product reviews, targeting those sites with low-quality reviews.
Google Update – Core Algo Update – September 12, 2022
Google’s September 2022 Core Update was rolled out on September 12, 2022. Its goal was to target sites with low-quality content and spam, although many noted that it was weaker than previous updates. This important part of Google algorithm update history took 15 days to completely roll out.
Google Update – Helpful Content Update – August 25, 2022
A Helpful Content Update was released on August 25, 2022. This sitewide signal targeted those sites that write content for search engines and not actual readers. It took over two weeks to fully roll out and those affected could be affected for several months.
Google Update – July 2022 Product Reviews Update – July 27, 2022
The July 2022 Product Reviews Update was rolled out on July 27, 2022. Originally, it was announced that this update would take 2-3 weeks to fully roll out but it was completed in six days. Sites that publish product reviews with little detail or effort were affected by this update that favors more insightful and helpful reviews.
Google Update – May 2022 Core Updates – May 22, 2022
One of Google’s yearly core updates, the Google May 2022 Core Update, started to roll out on May 22, 2022. Its goal is to improve the relevance and timeliness of Google’s search results. The update was completed on June 9, 2022.
Google Update – March 2022 Product Reviews Update – March 23, 2022
Starting on March 23, 2022, the Google March 2022 Product Reviews Update was rolled out over the course of 19 days. While this update wasn’t as widespread as the December update, it did significantly affect some sites. To improve your chances of not being negatively impacted by this update, Google suggests providing evidence, such as photos, links, or videos, of the product being reviewed to increase the authenticity of the review as well as ensure that the reviews are coming from people who have actually used the product.
Google Update – Page Experience Update – February 22, 2022
User experience is very important to Google. That’s why they rolled out the Page Experience Update on February 22, 2022. It focused on reviewing a site’s Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), First Input Delay (FID), HTTPS Security, and the Absence of Intrusive Interstitials. This update was completed by the end of March 2022.
Google Algorithm History 2021
Google Update – December 2021 Product Review Update – December 21, 2021
Just a few days before Christmas, Google finished rolling out the December 2021 Product Review Update. This update was notably larger than the April 2021 product reviews update. The SEO community was impacted significantly and many sites that were affected by this update felt it in a big way. To improve your product review authenticity, Google suggests adding pictures, videos, or graphics to each review, as well as providing the reader with multiple options or merchants to purchase the item from.
Google Update – November 2021 Local Search Update – November 30, 2021
Google’s Local Search Update rolled out in November 2021. This part of Google’s update history aims to rebalance the ranking factors that are considered when Google generates local search results. The ranking factors now are relevance, distance, and prominence. This local search update only impacted businesses’ Google My Business profile ranking and not their actual website ranking.
Google Update – Broad Core Update – November 17, 2021
The November 2021 Core Update was a big one! Many sites saw a spike in volatility due to this update. This volatility was resolved a few days after the update was released. Desktop was less affected than mobile rankings. Desktop SERPs were 12% more volatile with the November update than they were in the July update. Mobile SERPs were impacted even more – 23% more than in July. The industries most impacted by this update were Pets & Animals, Health, Science, Real Estate, and Auto & Vehicles.
Google Update – Google Spam Update – November 3, 2021
Google confirmed it was rolling out an algorithm update aimed at fighting spam starting and maintaining the quality of its search results on November 3rd. This month’s update marks the fourth Google algorithm update targeted at spam this year.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – October 2-3, 2021
There was a possible Google algorithm update that took place on October 3rd, 2021 and caused widespread fluctuations in the Google search results between October 2nd and October 4th. The update has since persisted with large fluctuations on the 10th, 16th, 23rd, and 26th of October.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – September 24-25, 2021
While this is an unconfirmed Google search algorithm update, the Rank Risk Index reported a large spike in rank fluctuations on September 24th, which continued through the next day. Things returned to normal on September 26th.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – August 15, 2021
With massive fluctuations and volatility reported on mobile and desktop, the update could have been related to the Google link spam update from a few weeks prior.
Google Update – Google Link Spam Update – July 26, 2021
On July 26th, Google announced that they were rolling out the link spam update, with the goal of making the algorithm able to effectively identify and nullify link spam across multiple languages. The Rank Risk Index only reported an increase in fluctuations on July 29th, which disappeared the next day.
Google Update – Google Spam Update Part Two – June 28, 2021
Google announced via Twitter on June 28th that they had released the second part of the spam update. They confirmed it took one day to complete and impacted global searches across both web and image results.
Google Update – Google Spam Update – June 23, 2021
While Google did not reveal exactly which type of spam it targeted with their spam update, the company tweeted “as part of our regular work to improve results, we’ve released a spam update to our systems.” Google added “This spam update will conclude today” on June 23rd.
Google Update – Google Page Experience Update – June 15, 2021
Google announced on Twitter that it was going to roll out its Page Experience update on June 15th and confirmed it would be completed by the end of August. On June 16th, Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable reported that the update was live.
Google Update – Google Core Update – June 2, 2021
Beginning in early June, Google announced the core algorithm update with update-related changes beginning to appear on the SERPs. The first part of this two-part update rolled out over the course of 10 days and had a Google Volatility Score of 9.3 on mobile and 9.2 on desktop.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – May 22, 2021
On May 22nd, Google experienced one of its largest and most volatile unconfirmed updates of the year. Fluctuations began on May 20th and stopped on May 24th.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – April 30, 2021
After a surge in rank fluctuations on April 30th, the Rank Risk Index noted the fluctuations returned to normal on May 2nd. Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable reported that the update had a major impact on the Product Reviews Update.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – April 23, 2021
The Rank Risk Index tracked a moderate spike in rank fluctuations, which continued through April 24th. The update impacted both local and global web search results.
Google Update – Google March 2020 Unconfirmed Update – March 10, 2021
On March 10th, the Rank Risk Index reported a rise in Google SERP fluctuations on mobile and desktop, with the fluctuations peaking on March 13th and concluding on March 14th on desktop and March 15th on mobile.
Google Update – Google February 2021 Unconfirmed Update – February 17, 2021
Although this update is unconfirmed, the Rank Risk Index reported a spike in rank fluctuations, occurring after a series of minor fluctuations that occurred after the Passage Ranking update. Due to its proximity to the previous Passage Ranking update, it could have simple been a set of fixes designed to support the fixes of the previous update.
Google Update – Google February 2021 Passing Ranking Update – February 10, 2021
Starting on February 9, the Rank Risk Index began tracking a large spike in fluctuations on both desktop and mobile that continued through February 10th. Google confirmed that Passage Ranking went live on February 10th in the US. With this update, Google is able to use artificial intelligence to index both web pages and individual passages from those pages.
Google Update History: 2020
Google Update – Google December 2020 Core Update – December 3, 2020
Google released a broad core algorithm update, which began rolling out on December 3. This proved to be a major update that saw a few disruptions in the SERPs, though Google’s guidance on the issue remained the same as it has on past broad core updates. The update is expected to continue rolling out over the next several weeks.
Google Update – Indexing Bug Pt. 2 – October 12, 2020
During the week of October 12, search tracking tools had been showing a lot of volatility and instability. Google claimed that the bulk of the mobile indexing and canonicalization issues had been addressed and fixed close to October 14th. MozCast measured a plummet in indexed pages and a temperature of 104°F two days prior, with temperatures in the 90s lasting for a couple of days.
Google Update – Indexing Bug Pt. 1 – September 29, 2020
Beginning in early September, Google confirmed an indexing and canonicalization bug, specifically an issue indexing News content. MozCast measured temperatures of 99°F on September 29th and 30th and identified sharp fluctuations in indexed pages on September 23rd and 29th.
Google Update – Unnamed Update – August 15, 2020
Both rank tracking tools and webmaster chatter implied a significant Google update 2020, with MozCast measuring 101°F. However, Google did not confirm this update. Some industry analysts suggested the changes were rolled back the following day and were likely temporary.
Google Update – Google Glitch – August 10, 2020
On August 10, SEOs reported substantial ranking changes for a few hours, which seemed to disappear soon after. Google later confirmed that there was a glitch in their indexing systems. MozCast registered 97°F on August 11th but did not confirm whether this event was related.
Google Update – Google Bug Fix Update – June 22, 2020
While no official algorithm update was confirmed, a Google rep confirmed that MozCast reached 96°F and an indexing bug impacting Disqus comments would be fixed during this period.
Google Update – Google May 2020 Core Update – May 4, 2020
Google announced their May 2020 broad core algorithm update does not require action. However, just because they say you don’t need to take any action in response to the May 2020 Core Update, that doesn’t mean that nothing will happen to your rankings. Your keywords will likely bounce around from one spot to another while the algorithm works its way through the system. So keeping a little extra close watch on tracking metrics will leave you better safe than sorry.
Google Update – Google January 2020 Core Update – January 22, 2020
Google confirmed an algorithm update that would have a significant impact on rank tracking and organic CTR. They announced that this Google update 2020 URLs in the Featured Snippets would not appear as traditional organic search results.
Google Update – Google January 2020 Core Update – January 13, 2020
The Google January 2020 update was pre-announced and took about a week to roll out. We saw very large fluctuations in tracking tools and website rankings in Google. In particular, it seemed that older websites that had been under spam penalties started ranking higher. This led many people to believe the update was connected to website quality signals such as links.
Google Update History: 2019
Google Update – BERT Update – October 22, 2019
The Google BERT update was one of the biggest updates in search engine history! BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers and it was called the biggest update since RankBrain 5 years ago. The Google BERT update changed the way the results are delivered, as they are now categorized based on intent.
Google Update – November 2019 Core Update – November 7, 2019
On November 7, speculation began of a potential Google update, which was later confirmed. The update, categorized as broad core, had a significant impact on search rankings. Google’s Jon Mueller later stated in a Google Hangout that this update had to do with relevancy and finding which pages are of better and higher quality.
Google Update – Google BERT Update – October 25, 2019
BERT, short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, is a Google update that many searchers have called the biggest update to the system since RankBrain launched five years ago. BERT is a system that helps Google better understand what people are looking for when they search. It’s an update to Google’s natural language processing, which is used to match a search query with the content on a page. The update is expected to affect 1 in 10 searches.
Google Update – Unnamed Update – October 2, 2019
This seemed to be a pretty light update and possible tremor following the September 24th update. Search Engine Land reported on but not much happened after that.
Google Update – September 2019 Core Update – September 24, 2019
This update was reported on by Search Engine Land and it was pre-announced. Google said this was a core update and their guidance around these updates remains the same.
Google Update – Maverick Update – July 29, 2019
The search community felt this update, as there was a big shift in search results. MozCast showed massive fluctuations. This update was not confirmed by Google and there is not much information about it online.
Google Update – Site Diversity Update – June 6, 2019
The Google site diversity update made it so that one site did not have multiple rankings in Google for the same term as often as it did before. This update impact some websites that had two listings at the top of the SERPs. In particular, we saw directory sites, eCommerce sites and news sites with double rankings impacted.
Google Update – June 2019 Core Update – June 3, 2019
On June 3, Google confirmed another broad core update, calling it the June 2019 Core Update. This time, Google gave prior warning, tweeting about the update and day early and later confirming its rollout. Fluctuations in the rankings began almost immediately, with some seeing significant drops while others seemed to regain much of the visibility lost in prior updates. It is thought that this update reversed some parts of the previous March and Medic updates, which is why those formerly hit saw some recovery. Again, a major focus seems to be Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) pages.
Google Update History: 2018
Google Update – March 2018 Core update – March 12, 2018
Google confirmed a broad core update, which began rolling out on March 12, 2018. This was not a major update, and volatility levels were not significantly higher than previous core updates. The most affected categories appeared to be automotive & vehicles, health, and pets & animals.
Google Update – Google “Medic” Core Update – August 1, 2018
On August 1, Google confirmed a “broad core algorithm” update. Nicknamed the “Medic” update, it had a heavy effect on search rankings, especially those in the health and wellness industry. Ranking fluctuations began on July 22, peaking on August 1st. Though Google didn’t release much information surrounding the update, many speculate that it had to do with the overall authority and trustworthiness of a site.
Google Update – Chrome Security Warnings – July 24, 2018
On July 24, Chrome68 began to mark all sites not encrypted with HTTPS as “not secure.“ Google initially announced it would be marking non-HTTPS sites two years before the rollout. The update will be affecting sites gradually, beginning with those that collect passwords and credit card information and eventually extending to all sites.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – July 21, 2018
MozCast and algorithm trackers picked up heavy ranking fluctuations, but no official update was confirmed by Google.
Google Update – Mobile Speed Update – July 9, 2018
Google officially rolled out its mobile speed update. The rollout began six months after Google announced mobile speed would become an official ranking factor. Google claims the update will only affect the slowest sites and a very small percentage of search queries.
Google Update – Video Carousels – June 14, 2018
Google launched a dedicated video carousel to replace thumbnails in the search results. The move created some fluctuations in the rankings, but the overall number of video results in the SERPs increased.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – June 14, 2018
In mid-June, MozCast and algorithm trackers showed high activity, peaking on June 14. And update was never confirmed by Google.
Google Update – Snippet Length Drop – May 23, 2018
Google confirmed it had shortened its search results snippets. This came just a few months after expanding the snippet length. While they had averaged 300+ characters, they’re now down to an average of 160 characters.
Google Update – Broad Core Algorithm Update – April 17, 2018
On April 20, Google confirmed a “broad core update” had been rolled out three days prior. In the statement, Google stated that these updates happen several times per year, and there are little sites can do to recover from any rankings drop.
Google Update – Mobile-First Index Rollout – March 26, 2018
On March 26, 2018, Google confirmed its rollout of the long-promised mobile-first indexing. Prior to the update, Google had primarily used desktop versions for crawling and indexing sites. The index had been in testing for a year and a half prior, and Google began moving sites gradually.
Google Update – Broad Core Algorithm Update – March 9, 2018
On March 12, 2018, Google confirmed that a “broad core algorithm update” had rolled out during the previous week. The search giant said that the purpose of the update was to “benefit pages that were previously unrewarded.” Google went on to advise webmasters to “continue building great content” so it would appear that the update was meant to benefit people who produce outstanding blog posts.
Google Update History: 2017
Google Update – Maccabees Update – December 12, 2017
Google confirmed minor changes to its algorithm after some SEOs noticed their web pages dancing around in the SERPs. The Big G also said that the changes weren’t very significant.
Google Update – Snippet Length Increase – November 30, 2017
At the end of November 2017, Google officially increased its snippet length to 300 characters from 155 characters. That gave SEOs the ability to increase their meta description length so that they can provide more detail about their web pages in the SERPs.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – November 14, 2017
In the middle of November 2017, Google search algorithm trackers noticed a significant amount of volatility in the SERPs. Google never confirmed an update.
Google Bug? – Featured Snippet Drop – October 27, 2017
Between October 27 – 31, there was a noticeable drop in featured snippets. SEOs noticed a jump in knowledge panels at the same time. Some of those same panels disappeared in the middle of December. Maybe it was a bug?
Chrome Update – HTTPS Warnings – October 17, 2017
When Google launched Chrome 62 in October 2017, the new version warned visitors about sites with non-HTTPS forms. That way, they could avoid entering personally identifiable information over an unsecured connection.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – September 27, 2017
During the end of September 2017, algorithm trackers picked up on some changes in the SERPs. No update was confirmed by Google.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – September 8, 2017
Some digital marketers noticed rank fluctuations in the late summer and early fall of 2018. Many of them speculated that an update may have occurred. Google never confirmed any changes to its algorithm.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – August 19, 2017
In late August 2017, some SEOs noticed minor ranking “adjustments.” The unconfirmed update hit pages with overly aggressive advertising, category pages, and pages that were light on content. Some SEOs thought that Google might have used this period to test algorithm changes.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – July 9, 2017
Digital marketing tools picked up on rank fluctuations in July 2017. At the time, marketers speculated that another SEO update might have occurred. Nothing was officially confirmed by Google.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – June 25, 2017
SEO utilities noticed significant rank changes in late June 2017. It looks like the unconfirmed update affected pages that ranked 6 – 10. It also appears that the beverage industry was hit the hardest.
Google Update – Google Jobs – June 20, 2017
In June 2017, Google officially launched its jobs portal. That’s a 3-pack of job listings in the SERPs. The results include job postings from major sites like Monster, LinkedIn, and CareerBuilder.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – May 17, 2017
During the week of May 17, 2017, some SEO tools detected quite a bit of volatility in the SERPs. It looks like the unconfirmed update was meant to hit sites with overly aggressive advertising, or offered users a poor experience.
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – Fred – March 8, 2017
It looks like another pretty big update took place starting yesterday morning. The update seems to have targeted link quality aspects of the overall algorithm. Google’s Gary Illyes, who has quite a sense of humor, stated that all updates be called “Fred.” The black hat SEO community has been causing quite a bit of commotion, further signaling the update targeted link quality. Considering this update just took place, more information is likely to come. Stay tuned!
Google Update – Unconfirmed Update – February 7, 2017
While this update was not confirmed either, it appears it was a large content quality update. More details are to come as we continue to gather information.
Google Update – Intrusive Interstitial Mobile Penalty – January 10, 2017
Google gave us plenty of notice (about 5 months) that this one was coming, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. This update only applies to mobile, just so we are clear there. Google looked to penalize sites that use aggressive interstitials and pop-ups that essentially cause mobile user experience to decline. A low number of SEOs reported any serious impact on sites. However, that may be attributed to the early warning Google gave, allowing people to devise other strategies. Google also stated that this impacts the site when someone clicks it from the mobile SERPs to your web page. It does not impact what you do within your site and it does not impact the desktop.
Google Update History: 2016
Google Update – Unnamed Major Update – December 14, 2016
Again, Google did not confirm this update, but there was definitely a big shift that took place. Multiple online tracking tools saw big fluctuations around December 14th & 15th.
Google Update – Unnamed Major Update – November 10, 2016
It appeared that there was a major update rolled out on both November 10th & November 18th. Google has not confirmed either update, however, there was quite a bit of chatter in the industry around these two dates. Also, a number of online tools picked up on updates as well. Many people felt that the second update may have been a reversal of the original update. Many people complained that the dates were wrong in Google search snippets around this time and others even mentioned low conversions.
Google Update – Penguin 4.o – September 23, 2016
It’s finally here. After about 2 years of patiently waiting, Penguin 4.0 is here and it’s in real-time according to Google. Penguin has been incorporated into Google’s core algorithm, so when Google re-crawls/re-indexes your pages, those signals will be used right away in the new Penguin algorithm. We also know that Penguin is now more granular, meaning the algorithm will devalue spam on a page-by-page basis, rather than site-wide. In the past, whole sites would be penalized if hit by Penguin, however now spammy links will instead be devalued on a given page. To the surprise of many people, the initial impact hasn’t been as massive as most would assume. However, we will stay tuned and continue to monitor the algorithm over the next few weeks. PENGUIN!!!!
Google Update – Possum – September 1, 2016
Google never did confirm this update, but that’s not really anything new. This update appeared to target spammy listings in the local pack and caused a major shakeup in the local results. There were indeed shifts within organic SERPs, however, details are still being hashed out there.
Google Update – Mobile Friendly #2 – May 12, 2016
About a year after the original “mobile-friendly” update, Google pushed out another ranking boost for mobile-friendly sites. This update essentially gives an additional ranking boost to mobile-friendly sites.
Google Update – Unnamed Update – May 10, 2016
It’s tough to tell what exactly happened with this update, however, tracking tools across the board showed some pretty big changes. Again, Google never confirmed this update. Details remain to be seen.
Google Update – AdWords Layout Restructuring – February 22, 2016
This was some pretty big news industry-wide. Google confirmed removing the right-side column ads and now placing four ads at the top of the SERPs. Previously there had been three or fewer ads at the top. Yes, this is a paid search update, but it definitely made an impact on the organic results and CTR and we felt it was highly necessary to cover. Were you on the winning or losing side of this AdWords shakeup?
Google Update – Core Algorithm Update – January 9th, 2016
While many people initially suspected that this update may be Penguin-related, Google later confirmed that was not the case. Instead, they confirmed that it was a “core algo update.” Massive ranking fluctuations, on both mobile and desktop, caused quite a bit of chatter in the industry. This update had a global impact on a multitude of queries. Details are continuing to be gathered as more data is acquired.
Google Update History: 2015
Google Update – Google Quality Update (Phantom 3) – November 19, 2015
While Google did not confirm this update, the SEO community had plenty to say about it. This update is running off of the “Quality Update” that we saw early in May of this year. There are not many details to announce just yet, although Google may possibly confirm this update later on as they sometimes tend to do. Many of the monitoring tools out there picked up big changes on November 19th, while a couple of tools did not. So it may just apply to certain queries at the moment.
Google Update – Rankbrain – October 26, 2015
Rankbrain, an artificial intelligence machine learning system, was announced by Google on 10/26/2015. Rankbrain is a Google ranking factor and artificial learning machine that enables them to decipher the best search results. This has already been out for a few months, but Google did not make the announcement until October 26th. It is already considered the third most important signal! While this information is still new to us, it is clear that it is definitely important.
Google Update – Hacked Site Algorithm Update – October 5, 2015
Hacked sites have been a big concern as of late, as we have seen with many WordPress sites. Google has announced that it will be making an effort to be “aggressively targeting hacked spam in order to protect users and webmasters.” About 5% of queries will be impacted on Google, depending on the language. Note that some users may not see the standard 10 blue links for a given query. Sometimes you may see 5 or even 8 results and this would be a result of hacked sites being removed. We are still learning more information about this as Google continues to roll out the update.
Google Update – Google Panda 4.2 Update – July 18, 2015
About 10 months since the last refresh, Google finally makes an update to the Panda algorithm. So far it is rolling out at a really slow pace and Google confirmed it can take up to months to completely roll out, even on a site-by-site basis. This Panda refresh is said to impact 2-3% of queries.
Google Update – Newsworthy Content Update – June 18, 2015
Shortly after a Google Quality Update just last month, we are seeing yet another change by Google. Google has yet to confirm the algorithm update, but tools across the board caught on quickly. The winners in this update appear to be media-related sites – mainly news, magazines, newspapers, and so on.
Google Update – Google Quality Update – May 1st, 2015
Google has confirmed an update (Phantom 2) that changes how it assesses the quality of content. This has been named the “Quality Update” as we are still gathering more information on it. The update did not go after a specific niche, rather it was an update to the overall core search quality ranking algorithm. It is not a spam-related update. We have seen quite a bit of moving around in the rankings. We will update this timeline with more specific information as it becomes available.
Google Update – Google Mobile Update – April 21, 2015
The Google Mobile Update, known by most as Mobilegeddon, was one of the largest updates to hit the search engine in history. This update made it so all non-mobile websites were demoted in the mobile search results and all mobile-ready sites were promoted.
Google Update – Significant Algorithm Update to Google Search – February 4, 2015
This was an unnamed update that Google has rolled out. Many webmasters and SERP tools have noticed a major fluctuation in the Google search results. So far, it has appeared to be an e-commerce related update and a mobile usability update. This update has not officially been confirmed by Google.
Google Update History: 2014
Google Update – Pigeon Rolls Out to UK, Canada & Australia– December 22, 2014
The local ranking algorithm, Pigeon, first introduced itself to the United States this past summer. Google announced that Pigeon has made its way to the UK, Canada & Australia.
Google Update – Penguin Everflux – December 10, 2014
Google announced that the Penguin algorithm would be shifting to being updated “continuously.” A Google representative stated that “the idea is to keep optimizing as we go now.” This is moving away from Penguin previously being updated every so often with major updates. The exact time frame is not clear, considering it is now an ongoing update.
Google Update – Google Pirate 2.0Update – October 24, 2014
The Google Pirate Update was focused on websites that are providing stolen content online. In particular, large websites that offer free torrent downloads were hit very hard. A torrent is a file that contains metadata about files and folders to be distributed, which means it is basically stolen information.
Google Update – Google Penguin 3 Update – October 17, 2014
For the first time in over a year, Google has officially confirmed the latest Penguin update– Penguin 3.0. This update targets link spam primarily. There were major winners and losers. This thread is still being updated.
Google Update – Google Panda 4.1 Update – September 24, 2014
This was an update to the Google Panda algorithm, which looks at thin content. In this update, we saw that lyric websites, gaming websites and some medical websites were hit hard. Also, sites that published a large number of short posts saw a big drop in traffic. This update actually added additional ranking factors to the Panda algorithm, it was not just a refresh. Google did not report on what these were.
Google Update – Authorship Removed – August 28, 2014
First, we saw Google drop authorship photos on June 28th, then just two months later Google announced they would be completely removing authorship markup and no longer processing it.
Google Update – HTTPS/SSL Update – August 6, 2014
Google announced it would start giving a “lightweight” ranking boost to secure HTTPS/SSL sites. The SEO community was discussing this quite a bit in the months leading up to the announcement made by Google. They made it clear that the boost would be starting out small and could potentially increase if the changes began showing positive signs.
Google Update – Google “Pigeon” Local Search Algorithm Launches – July 24, 2014
The Google “Pigeon“ local search algorithm rolls out. This is a major algorithm update that aims to involve more of the traditional web search ranking signals, essentially making local search more user-friendly.
Google Update – Authorship Photo Dropped in Search Results – June 28, 2014
Google’s John Mueller stated that all authorship photos would no longer be showing up in the SERPs.
Google Update – MetaFilter 2 Update – June 13, 2014
This is the second MetaFilter update, so we are calling it MetaFilter 2. The first happened in November of 2012 and Google denied the update happened. Two years later they came out and confirmed the 2012 update and then announced MetaFilter 2. The update looks at forum-based websites. This particular update increased traffic to forum sites after it was reduced in 2012.
Google Update – Google Payday Loan 3.0 Update – June 12, 2014
The Google Payday Loan 3.0 update targeted spammy websites in the most competitive niches as well as the actual queries themselves. In addition, it lessened the effect of negative SEO, which had been a major issue in this niche. It is still an issue, but possibly not as big of an issue following this update.
Google Update – Google Panda 4.0 Update – May 21, 2014
We are still learning about this update. But we do know that Panda historically targets thin content and onsite spam. We also know that Google has gone on record saying that they would soften the Panda update in the future.
Google Update – Payday Loan 2.0 – May 19, 2014
Google launched the first of these updates in June 2013. This is a particularly spamming niche that Google has focused on heavily. We see some of the worst webspam in this area. Payday Loan 2.0 looked at anchor text, sites injected with code and other items.
Google Update – Another Update with no Name – March 24, 2014
This update was reported on Search Engine Roundtable primarily, but it was clear that an update occurred. The update seemed to be a refresh, where the Google algorithm ran a refresh of the Panda update. This resulted in websites that had the correct ranking criteria recovering and websites that were still seen as spamming declining. We saw many clients gain ground following this update.
Google Update – Page Layout Update #3 – February 6, 2014
Google refreshed the page layout update. This update made it so that websites that had a large number of ads above the fold lost rankings. In general, more than 3 or 4 ads above the fold are too many. We saw a few websites that were hit hard by this update. It was in fact a real and important update for SEO.
Google Update History: 2013
Google Update – Authorship Update – December 19, 2013
Google authorship markup was reduced in the search engines by 15%. SEO professionals knew this was coming, as Matt Cutt’s had announced it would happen.
Google Update – No Name Update – December 17, 2013
There was a large update that seemed to change rankings for partial match domains.
Google Update – No Name Update – November 14, 2013
Google did not confirm an update, but many Google trackers noted an update on this day.
Google Update – Penguin 2.1 (#5) – October 4, 2013
Google launched another Penguin update. This was not a major change, but some link spammers lost many rankings.
Google Update – Hummingbird Update – August 20, 2013
Google Update – In-Depth Article Update – August 6, 2013
This allowed articles that were very good to show extra linking in the search results.
Google Update – Knowledge Graph Expansion – July 19, 2013
On this date knowledge graph search results grew by over 50%! Google made a huge push at this time to further integrate KG.
Google Update – Panda Recovery Update – July 18, 2013
Google confirmed another Panda Update. This update made Panda soften up just a bit and some websites recovered.
Google Update – Multi-Week Google Update – June 27, 2013
Matt Cutt’s made it clear that this update occurred, but we didn’t get any details! There were huge SEO fluctuations at this time, but things returned to normal later.
Google Update – Payday Loan Update – June 11, 2013
This update hit major spam niches such as payday loans and adult sites. This update took a couple of months to fully roll out.
Google Update – Penguin 2.0 (#4) – May 22, 2013
Google Update – Domain Crowding – May 21, 2013
This update created more diversity in the search results.
Google Update – Phantom Update – May 9, 2013
Everyone knows something happened based on fluctuations, but it wasn’t commented on heavily.
Google Update – Panda (#25) – March, 14, 2013
Panda #25 is another important Panda update hit, causing low-quality content sites to get hurt badly.
Google Update – Panda (#24) – January 22, 2013
This was a tweaking of the Panda update. It is the first official Google update of 2013. There were not a lot of specifics reported on how this impacted search.
Google Update – What was That? – January 17, 2013
Not even worthy of a name, this was Google’s first unofficial update of 2013 (will this lead to a new numbering system in Google Search Update History?). Despite the company’s claim that this was an insignificant update, the buzz on the forums suggests that this update was actually more meaningful than Panda #24.
Google Update History: 2012
Google Update – Panda (#23) – December 21, 2012
Officially designated a “refresh,” it affected 1.3% of queries, slightly more than its two immediate Panda predecessors, Panda #21 and #22.
Google Update – Knowledge Graph Expansion – December 4, 2012
Knowledge Graph functionality was added to non-English queries, including German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese. More than a simple translation, enhanced KG capabilities were added.
Google Update – Unnamed Update – November 19, 2012
Another unnamed, but nonetheless significant, update. Confusion on the forums. Could this have been a “trailer” for Panda #22? A frustrating day in Google search update history.
Google Update – Mega Filter Update – November 17, 2012
This was an update that Google actually denied. It was called the Meta Filter Update. We found out in June 2014 that there was an update that took place. The update hurt forum websites.
Google Update – Panda (#22) – November 12, 2012
A mini-update, affecting 08.% of queries in English.
Google Update – Panda (#21) -November 5, 2012
This refresh affected 1.1% of English-language queries and probably appeared on the radar of 0.4% of regular Google users worldwide. A quiet day in Google search engine optimization update history.
Google Update Page Layout #2 -October 5, 2012
This involved an adjustment to the page layout to dispense with unwanted ads ‘above the fold’ by the user. This has often been referred to as the “top-heavy update” in Google Search Update History. It was noticeable in around 0.7% of English queries.
Google Update – Penguin #3 – October 5, 2012
Affecting 0.3% of English queries and 0.4% worldwide. Forum users seemed almost disappointed that Penguin #3 had so little impact.
Google Update – August/September 65-Pack – October 4, 2012
These 65 alterations embraced 7-result SERPS, expansion of the Knowledge Graph, altered the way local results are calculated and changed the way page quality was assessed.
Google Update – Exact Match Domain (EMD) -September 27, 2012
Changing how Google handled EMDs resulted in widespread devaluation, diminishing the number of EMDs in the MozCast data set by greater than 10%. Elimination of low-quality EMDs. Impact on 0.6% of queries (by volume).
Google Update – Panda #20 – September 27, 2012
Because the 3.X numbering system was becoming unwieldy, industry sources changed the way Panda updates were numbered. This fairly major update affected 2.4 of queries (data and algo).
Google Update – Panda 3.9.2 (#19) – September 18, 2012
Thankfully the last of the infernal 3.X numbering system.
Google Update – Panda #3.9.1 (#18) – August 20, 2012
Minor refresh, impacting less than 1% of search queries.
Google Update – 7-Result SERPs -August 14, 2012
The major change was reducing 10 results per page to 7. Made it easier for a given domain to command the page. Affected 18% of keywords tracked. A big day at the office for Google SEO Update History. This one did not stick, however, and 10 is now the standard again.
Google Update – DMCA Penalty – August 10, 2012
Digital Millennium Copyright Act kicks in. Google start penalizing sites with repeated copyright violations.
Google Update – June/July 86-Pack – August 10, 2012
Google goes back to school after the summer break with a satchel full of Search Quality Highlights. Key updates include a ranking boost for trusted sources, better rank-ordering, and Panda algo/data refresh.
Google Update – Panda 3.9 (#17) – July 24, 2012
No biggie. Rankings fluctuated for a few days but less than 1% of sites were affected.
Google Update – Link Warnings – July 19, 2012
Google sends out a truckload of unnatural link warnings then almost immediately retracts them. Not the finest moment in Google Update History.
Google Update – Panda 3.8 (#16) – June 18, 2012
Data only refresh. Smaller impact than its immediate predecessor, Panda #15.
Google Update – Panda 3.7 (#15) – June 8, 2012
Google claimed that fewer than 1% of queries were affected but ranking fluctuation data suggested otherwise.
Google Update – May 39-Pack – June 7, 2012
Major changes include improvements in link-scheme detection, Google News updates and alterations in title/snippet rewriting.
Google Update – Penguin 1.1 (#2) – May 25, 2012
Determined to confuse users with yet another awkward numbering system, Google introduced what the rest of us refer to as “Penguin 2.” Google called it a data refresh, affecting less than 0.1% of English queries. Users plunged into turmoil on a holiday weekend. Were they better off? Worse off? Will anybody ever know?
Google Update – Knowledge Graph – May 16, 2012
Another watershed in Google search optimization update history. Google rolls out Knowledge Graph, integrated with SERP, providing supplemental info about certain places, people and things. Knowledge panels are expected to make regular appearances on SERPs as time goes by.
Google Update – April 52-Pack – May 4, 2012
Google SEO changes include changes linked to Penguin update, an expanded base index (+15%), updates to site links and better handling of pagination. A productive day in Google update history.
Google Update Panda 3.6 (#14) – April 27, 2012
Busy week for pandas, less so for Google-watchers. Update released less than a week after previous Panda. It is unclear what happened but the impact was negligible.
Google Update – Penguin – April 24, 2012
A watershed day in Google search engine optimization update history and a bad day for black hat-makers. Google rolls out over-optimization penalty in a long-awaited webspam update that was subsequently nicknamed “Penguin.” Spam factors such as keyword stuffing were adjusted. Penguin affected a whopping 3.1% of English-language queries.
Google Update – Panda 3.5 (#13) – April 19, 2012
A quiet Panda update with minimal impact.
Google Update – Parked Domain Bug – April 16, 2012
Unintentional algorithm change. Some domains were devalued as a result of Google data error.
Google Update – March 50-Pack – April 3, 2012
In this batch of Google SEO changes, Panda 3.4 was confirmed, changes were made to anchor-text scoring, a method for interpreting queries with local intent was changed and image search updates were introduced.
Google Update – Panda 3.4 (#12) – March 23, 2012
The update was announced on Twitter simultaneously with the actual rollout of changes. Impact estimated at 1.6% of search results.
Google Update – Search Quality Video – March 12, 2012
Not so much an algorithm update, but a rare opportunity to see the quality team in action.
Google Update – Panda 3.3 (#11) -February 27, 2012
Minor, post-“flux” update, three days after Panda’s first anniversary. No party hats, just enhanced accuracy and sensitivity.
Google Update – February 40-Pack – February 27, 2012
This Google SEO change incorporated more than 40 updates. Updates included phasing out of two old pieces of the algorithm, image search updates and slipping in a crafty Panda update.
Google Update – Venice – February 27, 2012
Organic results were fiercely localized; local search data became more tightly integrated.
Google Update – February 17-Pack – February 3, 2012
Comparatively small as far as monthly updates go. The major edit was the integration of Panda into the main search index. Minor edits thrown in included tweaks related to spell-checking, freshness and speed. Updated efficiency and meaner Panda.
Google Update – Ads Above the Fold – January 19, 2012
Updated to penalize sites with excessive ad space “above the fold.”
Google Update – Panda 3.2 (#10) – January 18, 2012
A confirmed data update rather than an algorithm update. Weakening of sites with an excessive ratio of ads to credible content.
Google Update – Search + Your World – January 10, 2012
An aggressive push of Google+ user-profiles and social data into SERPs. Addition of a permanent new toggle button to switch off personalization.
Google Update – January 30-Pack – January 5, 2012
This update included richer snippets, more relevant site links, improvements in related queries, the introduction of quality detection of image search landing page.