Google Algorithm History – Timeline

Google Algorithm History - Timeline

Google Algorithm Updates – Explained

2016 Updates

Penguin 4.0 — September 23, 2016

Google announced the Penguin update today. The new Penguin is real time and runs within the core search algorithm. So the changes to a site can be visible much faster after it gets re-indexed. Also the Penguin is more granular affecting specific pages or sections rather than affecting the ranking of the whole site.

  • Penguin is now part of our core algorithm (Google Webmaster Central Blog)Link
  • Google updates Penguin, says it now runs in real time within the core search algorithm (SEL)Link

Unofficial: Possum Update — September 1, 2016

Google search rankings seems to have a major change in during the past twenty-four hours. Although Google has not confirmed it, Mozcast showed higher temperature and other search ranking tracking tools also showed an update.

  • Is a big Google search update happening? Chatter thinks so. (SEL)Link
  • Everything you need to know about Google’s ‘Possum’ algorithm update (SEL)Link

Mobile-friendly 2 — May 12, 2016

Google rolled out the second version of their mobile-friendly update today. It’s been more than a year since they relesed the original mobile-friendly update. The new update gives an additional boost for mobile friendly websites in mobile search results.

  • Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm boost has rolled out (SEL)Link
  • Continuing to make the web more mobile friendly (Webmaster Central Blog)Link
  • Google will start ranking ‘mobile-friendly’ sites even higher in May (Venture Beat)Link

Unnamed Update? — May 10, 2016

Some Google weather trackers including Mozcast detected algorithm activity over the past few days. However, Google has not confirmed on this update.

  • Google Dismisses Any Recent Major Algorithm Update (SE Round Table)Link

AdWords Shake-up — February 23, 2016

Google rolled out a major change to Adwords. Google will not be showing ads on right side of search results but will show only on top and/or bottom of the page. An additional fourth ad will be shown above the search results for highly commercial search queries.

  • Confirmed: Google To Stop Showing Ads On Right Side Of Desktop Search Results Worldwide (SEL)Link
  • FAQ: All About The Changes To Google’s Ad Layout On Desktop Search Results (SEL)Link
  • Google AdWords Switching to 4 Ads on Top, None on Sidebar (The SEM Post)Link

Unnamed Update — January 8, 2016

On Monday morning, Google confirms that there was a core ranking update and was not related to Penguin. People over the internet starts seeing fluctuations in Google ranking from Friday. However more details regarding the update are not available.

  • Google Confirms: Core Search Ranking Update Took Place But Not Penguin Related (SE Round Table)Link


2015 Updates

RankBrain — October 26, 2015

Google announced “RankBrain”, a machine learning technology, an artificial intelligence system to monitor and improve search results. RankBrain had been part for months and is the third most ranking factor.

  • RankBrain Unleashed (Moz)Link
  • FAQ: All About The New Google RankBrain Algorithm (SEL)Link

Panda 4.2 (#28) — July 17, 2015

Panda 4.2 starts rolling out this week. Google said, the rollout will take months to complete and so immediate ranking changes might not be notable.

  • Google Panda 4.2 Is Here; Slowly Rolling Out After Waiting Almost 10 Months (SEL)Link
  • Google Panda 4.2 Is Still Rolling Out (SEL)Link

Google bomb Fix- May 21, 2015

Google to implement Googlebomb fix to prevent racist listings in Google Maps. Google Maps decides to crowd source to identify Google Map locations. The result went poorly in some cases where many locations became associated with slurs and derogatory words. If people are mentioning places alongside racial slurs or derogatory language, Google’s Pigeon technology — despite its good intentions — is making those places relevant for those terms. It’s also a problem that’s probably been happening for weeks or months but only noticed now.

  • Googlebomb Fix For Racist Maps (Search Engine Land)Link

Google-Twitter Deal – May 19, 2015

The Google-Twitter Deal Goes Live, Giving Tweets Prominent Placement In Google’s Results.The deal between Google and Twitter to bring more tweets into Google’s search results announced earlier this year is finally delivering on its promise.

  • Google-Twitter Deal is Live (SEL)Link

The Quality Update – May 3, 2015

Google confirmed a core algorithm change impacting “quality signals”, after several reports of large-scale ranking changes. Unofficialy known as “Phantom 2”, this update seems to have had a broad impact, but Google didn’t reveal any specifics about the nature of the signals involved. Most notably, Hub pages did a post and suggested that Google was somehow targeting “How To” or informational sites. Webmasters that saw significant drops in Google organic traffic overnight reported a drop of over 60%.

  • The Quality Update: Google Confirms Changing How Quality Is Assessed, Resulting In Rankings Shake (SEL)Link
  • Google’s ‘phantom’ algorithm update hits websites (CNBC)Link
  • Key Takeaways From Google Phantom Update (Site Point)Link

Mobilegeddon – April 22, 2015

Google announced that for mobile rankings, they will be using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal and will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. The mobile-friendly algorithm is on a page by page basis. So even if only some of your web pages are not mobile friendly, some come benefit from this algorithm.

Looking into the update, Larry Kim, founder and chief technology officer at Boston SEO company WordStream, found that non-mobile-optimized sites were largely wiped out, excepting branded searches.

  • Finding more mobile-friendly search results (Google Webmaster Central Blog) –Link
  • Mobilegeddon A Month Later: Small Business Study Shows…. Nothing Happened (Search Engine Land)Link
  • “Mobilegeddon” Proves Inconsistent for Non-Mobile-Friendly Sites (Search Engine Watch)Link
  • 7 Days After Mobilegeddon: How Far Did the Sky Fall? (Moz)Link
  • Google Mobile Update/ Mobilegeddon: Winners and Losers US (Search Metrics Blog)Link
  • Video: Google Confirms Update, Twitter In Google, Google Penalties & SMX Israel – Barry Schwartz

Google’s Doorway Algorithm Update – April 2, 2015

Google does not want to rank doorway pages in their search results. The purpose behind many of these doorway pages is to maximize their search footprint by creating pages both externally on the web or internally on their existing web site, with the goal of ranking multiple pages in the search results, all leading to the same destination.One obvious target are the multi-location businesses that have created pages that talk about their services in each of the cities offered.

Some ways you can dodge the penalty are:

  1. Avoid empty pages
  2. Avoid hard-to-find Pages
  3. Hold-Off Pages that requires user generated content until suitable content is obtained
  4. Avoid multiple sites
  5. Avoid duplicate content
  • 5 Ways Sites Can Dodge Google’s Doorway Page Update (Search Engine Land)Link
  • Google’s Doorway Algorithm Update (Search Engine Watch)Link
  • An update on doorway pages (Webmaster Central Blog)Link

Knowledge Graph Update – March 2, 2015

Google City Searches Now Include Hotel Booking Info In Knowledge Graph. Average star rating and costs for city hotels are listed, along with “View hotels” link that delivers results page for hotels in the relevant city.

  • Google City Searches Now Include Hotel Booking Info Knowledge Graph (SEL)Link

Unnamed Update – February 4, 2015

Several webmasters and major rank trackers reported a major flux in Googel SERPs. It’s been said that the update has mainly affected on brands e-commerce and apparently mobile rankings. Google did not officially confirmed this update.

  • Significant Google Search Algorithm Update Yesterday (SE Round Table)Link
  • Google Brand-eCommerce “Update” causing fluctuations (Search Metrics)Link

Google Knowledge Graph Now Showing Social Profiles For Brands – January 15, 2015

The social profile links within the knowledge graph box on Google now is supported for corporate brands.

  • Google Knowledge Graph Showing Social Profiles For Brands (Search Engine Land)Link

Knowledge Graph Update – January 15, 2015

Google Events Knowledge Graph Adds Ticket Links, Delegated Events, Comedian Events & Venue Events. Google announced improved event knowledge graph data in the search results, supporting more markup and schema types to make for a richer and more detailed knowledge graph box around event related queries.

  • Google Events Knowledge Graph Adds Ticket Links, Delegated Events, Comedian Events & Venue Events (SEL)Link

2014 Updates

Official: Google Provides Song Lyrics In Search Results, With Links To Google Play – December 22, 2014

Google has quietly added a special song lyrics box to its search results, for queries that are relevant.

  • Google Provides Song Lyrics In Search Results, With Links To Google Play (SEL)Link

Pigeon Expands (UK, CA, AU) – December 22, 2014

Google’s major local algorithm update, named “Pigeon”, expanded to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The update was confirmed on the 22nd December, but may have rolled out as early as the 19th. The original update hit the United States in July 2014.

  • Google Pigeon Update Rolls Out To UK, Canada & Australia (Search Engine Land)Link
  • Local Search Results Affected as Google Pigeon Update Hits UK (Strategy Digital)Link
  • Google Pigeon Update Hits the UK – First Test Reveals Wacky Results for Local Searches (Kontrolit)Link

Penguin Everflux – December 10, 2014

A Google spokesperson said that Penguin algorithm will be updated continuously, by optimizing it as they go. This claim seemed to fit ongoing flux after Penguin 3.0 (including unconfirmed claims of a Penguin 3.1).

  • Google Says Penguin To Shift To “Continuous Updates” (SEL)Link

Pirate 2.0 – October 21, 2014

Google launched another update to combat software and digital media piracy after two years from the original DMCA/”Pirate” update. This update was highly targeted and caused dramatic drops in ranking only to a relatively small group of sites.

  • Google Pirate Update Analysis and Loser List (Search Metrics)Link
  • Google’s New Search Down ranking Hits Torrent Sites Hard (Torrent Freak)Link

Penguin 3.0 – October 17, 2014

Google launched a Penguin refresh more than a year after the previous Penguin update (2.1). Only less that 1% of US/English queries were affected and was data-only update and not a new Penguin algorithm. Google claimed it was spread out over “weeks” and so the exact timing in unclear.

  • Google AutoCorrects: Penguin 3.0 Still Rolling Out & 1% Impact (Search Engine Round Table)Link
  • Penguin 3.0 Analysis – Penguin Tremors, Recoveries, Fresh Hits, and Crossing Algorithms (GSQi)Link
  • The Danger of Crossing Algorithms: Uncovering The Cloaked Panda Update During Penguin 3.0 (Moz)Link

“In The News” Box – October 2014

Google has confirmed that new “In The News” box appearing in some of its search results now lists content from more than just the traditional news sites. The presence of news results in SERPs also spiked, and major news sites reported substantial traffic changes.

  • Google’s “In The News” Box Now Lists More Than Traditional News Sites (Search Engine Land)Link
  • New Publishers Upset With Google’s “In The News” Box (Search Engine Round Table)Link

Panda 4.1 (#27) — September 23, 2014

Google announced a major Panda update, that included an algorithmic component. They estimated the impact has affected on 3-5% of the queries. The exact timing is unclear due to the “slow rollout”.

  • Panda 4.1 — Google’s 28th Panda Update — Is Rolling Out (SEL)Link
  • Panda 4.1 Analysis and Findings – Affiliate Marketing, Keyword Stuffing, Security Warnings, and Deception Prevalent (HMT Web)Link
  • Panda 4.1 Google Leaked Dos and Don’ts – Whiteboard Friday (Moz)Link
  • Leveraging Panda to Get Out of Product Feed Jail (Moz)Link

Google Structured Snippets Officially Live In Search Results – September 22, 2014

Google will show snippets of data, relevant to the query, within the snippets of the search results. Google says the data is “powered by the Knowledge Graph and other data sources.” Here is a screen shot of what it looks like:

  • Google Structured Snippets Officially Live In Search Results (SEL)Link

Google Knowledge Graph Now With “In The News” Box – September 10 2014

  • Google Knowledge Graph Now With “In The News” Box (SEL)Link

Google Now Showing Knowledge Snippets In Search Results – September 8 2014

Google is now showing snippets of knowledge, facts or answers, directly in the snippet portion of the search results.

  • Google Now Showing Knowledge Snippets In Search Results (SEL)Link

Google announced a new way for users to perform a site search on a website within the search results with the sitelinks search box. This can be implemented using schema markup or provided by Google itself, if it thinks the site qualifies for a large volume of brand searches; but in either case it requires approval from Google.

(But some sites have chosen to opt out as results in many cases lead to a second page of google results(when markup not found) meaning including more Ads with the likelihood of the user clicking on an ad instead of visiting your website.)

  • An improved search box within the search results (Webmaster Central Blog) – Link
  • Google’s Sitelinks Search Box: What You Need to Know (Moz)Link
  • Google Allows You To Disable The Sitelinks Search Box, To Search Within The Google Search Results (SEL)Link

Authorship Removed — August 28, 2014

After dropping authorship photos on June28th, Google announced that they would be completely removing authorship markup adn would no longer process it. By the next morning, authorship bylines had disappeared from all SERPs.

  • It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results (SEJ)Link
  • What Happened after Google Pulled Author and Video Snippets: A Moz Case Study (Moz) Link

HTTPS/SSL Update — August 6, 2014

Google announced that they are starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. They would be giving preference to secure sites, and that adding encryption would provide a “lightweight” rankings boost. Google stressed that for now it’s only a very lightweight signal but over time, they may decide to strengthen it, to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

  • HTTPS as a ranking signal (Webmaster Central Blog) Link

Pigeon — July 24, 2014

The purpose of Pigeon is to provide preference to local search results favouring user and local business. As per webmasters understandings this update has location and distance as key part of search strategy. The local directory listings are getting preferences in web results. [Source:wiki] Google claimed that Pigeon created closer ties between the local algorithm and core algorithm(s).

  • Google “Pigeon” Updates Local Search Algorithm With Stronger Ties To Web Search Signal (SEL) – Link
  • Google Updates Local Algo With More Web Based Signals – Turmoil In SERPS (Blumental’s Blog)Link
  • Pigeon Advice from Top Local SEOs and a Pigeon-Proofing Checklist (Moz)Link

Google’s New Calendar Feature Lets You Schedule Events Directly From The Search Page – July 16, 2014

By searching “schedule appointment” or “add event” while logged into your Google account, Google will deliver a dynamic knowledge graph box that lets you automatically add an event to your Google calendar without leaving the search page.

  • Google’s New Calendar Feature Lets You Schedule Events Directly From The Search Page (SEL)Link

Google Finally Adds Bitcoin Conversion Search – July 16, 2014

Following in the footsteps of both Yandex and Bing, Google has finally added Bitcoin currency conversion to their knowledge graph/one box results.

  • Google Finally Adds Bitcoin Conversion Search (SEL)Link

Authorship Photo Drop — June 28, 2014

On June 25th, John Mueller announced that Google would be dropping all authorship photos from SERPs (after heavily promoting authorship as a connection to Google+). The drop was complete around June 28th.

  • Google Announces the End of Author Photos in Search: What You Should Know (Moz)Link
  • Google Removes Author Photos From Search: Why And What Does It Mean? (SEL)Link

Google’s Knowledge Graph Is Showing Step By Step Instructions – June 24, 2014

  • Google’s Knowledge Graph Is Showing Step By Step Instructions: Here Are Some Examples (SEL)Link

Payday Loan 3.0 — June 12, 2014

Google launched version 3.0 of their anti-spam update on June 12, less than a month after 2.0 was released. Matt Cutts said that 2.0 was targeting specifically spammy sites, while 3.0 targets more spammy queries.

  • Google Spam Algorithm Version 3.0 Launches Today (SE Round Table)Link

Panda 4.0 (#26) — May 19, 2014

Google confirmed a major Panda update that included both an algorithm update and a data refresh. Matt Cutts said it began rolling out on May 20 and officially about 7.5% of English-language queries were affected.

  • Google Begins Rolling Out Panda 4.0 Now (SEL)Link
  • Panda 4.0, Payday Loan 2.0 & eBay’s Very Bad Day (Moz)Link
  • Real-World Panda Optimization – Whiteboard Friday (Moz)Link

Payday Loan 2.0 — May 16, 2014

Google updated it’s “payday loan” algorithm, which targets especially on highly spam queries and is unrelated to Panda or Penguin algorithms. Google told this specific update is an international rollout and it affects different languages to different degrees. The exact date of the roll-out was unclear.

  • Official: Google Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0 Launched: Targets “Very Spammy Queries” (SEL)Link
  • Google Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0 Algorithms– Implications for SEO & how to overcome payday loan effect (Position 2)Link

Google’s Knowledge Graph Expands Into Google Maps – May 13, 2014

The company has confirmed to Search Engine Land that some locations in Google Maps will now get a new “Quick Facts” info card, and that the data are from Google’s Knowledge Graph.

  • Google’s Knowledge Graph Expands Into Google Maps (SEL)Link

Softer Panda Update (not confirmed) — March 24, 2014

This update was never confirmed by Google. Major algorithm flux trackers and webmaster chatter spiked around March 24-25, and some speculated that the new, “softer” Panda update had arrived. Many sites around the world reported ranking changes.

  • Did Google Do An Algorithm Update Yesterday? (SE Round Table)Link
  • Did the Softer Panda Update Arrive on March 24, 2014? SMBs Showing Modest Recovery Across Industries (HMT Web)Link

Google Title Tag Redesign – March 2014

Google’s redesign increased the font size of result titles, while keeping the overall container the same size. Changes include increased size of result titles, removed the underlines, and evened out all the line heights etc.

  • New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool (Moz) – Link

Page Layout #3 — February 6, 2014

Google “refreshed” their page layout algorithm, also known as “top heavy”. Matt Cutts said the algorithm was refreshed on February 6th 2014. The page layout algorithm penalizes sites with too many ads above the fold.

  • Google Updates Its Page Layout Algorithm To Go After Sites “Top Heavy” With Ads (SEL)Link


2013 Updates

Penguin 2.1 (#5) — October 4, 2013

After 4 and a half months gap, Google launched another Penguin update. This was probably a data update (primarily) and not a major change to the Penguin algorithm. The overall impact seemed to be moderate (affected around 1% of queries), although some webmasters reported being hit hard.

  • Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm, Is Now Live (SEL)Link
  • Google Penguin 2.1 Was A Big Hit (SE Round Table)Link

Hummingbird — August 20, 2013

On September 26th, Google announced that the “Hummingbird” update rolled out about a month earlier. Many reports showed flux from August 20-22. Hummingbird has been compared to Caffeine, and seems to be a core algorithm update that may power changes to semantic search and the Knowledge Graph for months to come.

  • FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm (SEL)Link
  • Some Reports Of An August 21/22 Google Update (SE Round Table)Link
  • How Google is Changing Long-Tail Search with Efforts Like Hummingbird – Whiteboard Friday (Moz)Link

In-depth Articles — August 6, 2013

Google announced that an “in-dept articles” feature is rolling out on in English. It is dedicated to more evergreen and long-form content. At launch, it included links to three articles and appeared across about 3% of the searches as per the MozCast tracks.

  • In-depth articles in search results (Webmaster Central Blog)Link
  • Inside In-depth Articles: Dissecting Google’s Latest Feature (Moz)Link

Knowledge Graph Expansion — July 19, 2013

Queries with Knowledge Graph (KG) entries expanded by more than half (+50.4%) as per the MozCast data set, with more than a quarter of all searches showing some kind of KG entry.

  • The Day the Knowledge Graph Exploded (+50.4%) (Moz)Link

Panda Dance — June 11, 2013

Panda Dance is not an actual Panda update. Matt Cutts on SMX Advanced, said that Panda was still updating monthly, but each update rolled out over about 10 days. Many people expected this to be an “everflux” after Panda #25, whereas it is not.

  • Google’s Panda Dance: Matt Cutts Confirms Panda Rolls Out Monthly Over 10 Of 30 Days (SEL) – Link

“Payday Loan” Update — June 11, 2013

Google announced a targeted algorithm update to take on niches with very high spam results, specifically mentioning payday loans and porn. The update was announced on June 11th, and Matt Cutts said that it would be rolled out in 1-2 months period.

  • Google Officially Launches Knowledge Graph Carousel For Local Search (SEL) Link

Penguin 2.0 or Penguin 4- May 22, 2013

The fourth release of Google’s spam fighting algorithm is live with Penguin 2.0 technology. Google says the technology is more advance than ever in identifying spam,impacting 2.3% of queries citation.

  • Penguin 4, With Penguin 2.0 Generation Spam-Fighting, Is Now Live (SEL) Link
  • Link: Penguin 2.0 rolled out today (Matt Cutts)Link
  • Another step to reward high-quality sites (Webmaster Central Blog)Link

Google’s Knowledge Graph Expands Into Google Maps – May 13, 2014

Google’s Knowledge Graph Expands Into Google Maps (SEL)Link

Domain Crowding – May 21, 2013

In order to control domain crowding and to keep diversity in SERPs (2+ pages), Google released an update on Domain Crowding. The update went out prior to Pnguin 2.0. And people started noting changes in the number of results from a single root domain for a particular query.

  • Google Domain Crowding Update May 2013 (High Position)Link
  • Google Domain Clustering Update? (Briggsby)Link

“Phantom” — May 9, 2013

During this period, several reports came along stating that an algorithm update is happening. Even Mozcast also showed high activity. Google announced nothing, but many sites losed their traffic.

Panda #24 — January 22, 2013

Google Panda was first released in February 2011, and the company announces the first official update of 2013 on January 22 nd, claiming that 1.2% of English based search queries will be affected.

In an article published in the New York Times, Matt Cutts, head of webspam, confirmed that the Google webmaster guideline tactics were violated by the department store J.C. Penny. The investigation reported that many unrelated sites were linking to J.C. Penney, and most of the links had descriptive anchor text. Their linking scheme was ultimately punished by Google, tanking their rankings in the process.

  • New York Times Exposes J.C. Penney Link Scheme That Causes Plummeting Rankings in Google (SEL)Link
  • Google Announces 24th Panda Refresh; Not Related To January 17th (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Panda Update Version #24; 1.2% Of Search Queries Impacted (SEL) – Link
  • Google’s Matt Cutts: Next Generation Of The Penguin Update “Few Weeks” Away (SEL) – Link
  • Video: Panda SEO Recovery Tips:

Panda #25 — March 14, 2013

Google releases the latest Panda update during SMX West on March 15th,, 2013. Although they haven’t made any official statements on the update, algorithm changes were reflected in the keyword rankings of millions of websites. The main aim of Google panda is to give priority to websites with higher quality content in their SERPs, penalizing the low quality and thin content websites in the process.

  • How to Survive Google’s Pending Panda Update, Check out (Hubspot) – Link
  • Are you more or less worried about the Google’s Panda update now? (Web Pro News)Link
  • Google’s Final Manual Panda Refresh Here? #25 (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Panda Update 25 Seems To Have Hit (SEL) – Link
  • Last Manual Google Panda Update #25 Rolled Out on 15 March 2013 (Web Media Makers) – Link


2012 Updates

Knowledge Graph Expansion — December 4, 2012

Google adds “Knowledge Graph Functionality” to non-English queries on December 4th, 2012 including Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Russian and Italian queries. While searching in any of those languages, new answers from the Knowledge Graph to map out the real world information relevant to your language and country will now appear.

  • Get smarter answers from the Knowledge Graph from Português to 日本語 to русский (Inside Search) – Link
  • Google’s Knowledge Graph Expands To More Languages, Including Italian, French, Japanese And Russian (Tech Crunch) – Link 
  • 5 Graphics that Recap the Most Important Google SERP Changes in 2012 (Search Engine Watch) – Link

Google’s Local Knowledge Graph Carousel Finds Its Way On Tablets – December 5, 2012

A few months ago, Google introduced the knowledge graph carousel feature to desktop users. Now, when you search Google on your tablet device, such as your iPad, Google make show you a carousel like feature at the top of the search results.

  • Google’s Local Knowledge Graph Carousel Finds Its Way On Tablets (SEL)Link

Panda #23 — December 21, 2012

Google rolls out another Panda update on December 21st 2012 and officially calls it a refresh. This impacts 1.3% of English queries. This update has a slightly higher impact than Pandas #21 and #22.

  • Confirmed: A Panda Refresh, Version #23 (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Panda 23 Algorithm Update On 21st December, Right Before Christmas And New Year! 1.3% Of Queries, Maybe A Rollback? (Tip Tech News) – Link

Panda #22 — November 21, 2012

Google confirms the 22nd Panda update. This is a refresh, impacting about 1.1% English queries. This comes on the heels of a larger, but unnamed update around November 19th.

  • Official Google Panda #22 Update: November 21 (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Confirmed: Google Panda Refresh #22 On November 21st; 0.8% Of Queries Impacted (SEL) – Link

Panda #21 — November 5, 2012

Google confirms the 21st Panda update, stating that it will impact about 0.4% of queries.That percentage is slightly higher for United States users, impacting about 1.1% of their inquiries.

  • Google Releases Panda Update 21, Impacts 1.1% Of US Queries In English (SEL) – Link
  • Official: Google Panda Refresh On November 5th (Version 21) (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google: Panda Update (SEL) – Link 

Page Layout #2 — October 9, 2012

Google announces a refresh to the original page layout algorithm change from January, which targets pages with too many ads above the fold. This is often referred to as the “Top Heavy Update.”

  • It’s “Top Heavy 2” As Google Rolls Out Update To Its Page Layout Algorithm (SEL) – Link
  • Google Page Layout Algorithm Officially Updated (SE Round Table) – Link
  • The Top Heavy Update: Pages With Too Many Ads Above The Fold Now Penalized By Google’s “Page Layout” Algorithm (SEL) – Link

Penguin #3 — October 5, 2012

Google announces a minor Penguin data update, impacting 0.3% of queries. Penguin update numbering is rebooted, similar to Panda. This is the 3rd Penguin release.

  • Google Penguin Update 3 Released, Impacts 0.3% Of English-Language Queries (SEL) – Link
  • Google Released 3rd Penguin Update: Not Jarring Or Jolting (SE Round Table) – Link

August/September 65-Pack — October 4, 2012

Google publishes 65 search highlight updates in August and September, including seven result SERPs, new features, expanded the Knowledge Graph globally in English, updates to how page quality is calculated and changes to how local results are determined.

  • Search quality highlights: 65 changes for August and September (Inside Search) – Link
  • Building the search engine of the future, one baby step at a time (Google Blog) – Link
  • Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings (Google Blog) – Link

Panda #20 — September 27, 2012

On September 27th 2012,overlapping the EMD update,  Google releases a Panda algorithm update- this will be the 20th update, and impacts 2.4% of English search queries.

  • 20th Google Panda Algorithm Update: Fairly Major (SE Round Table) – Link
  • How Do You Know If Google Panda Or EMD Hurt Your Site? (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Panda Update Rolls Out (SEO Hour) – Link

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update — September 27, 2012

Google release the “Exact Match Domain Update,” which is a filter to prevent poor quality sites from ranking well simply because their domain name includes searched keywords.  Official word is that this change impacts 0.6% of queries (by volume).

  • Google’s EMD Algo Update – Early Data (Moz) – Link
  • The EMD Update: Google Issues “Weather Report” Of Crack Down On Low Quality Exact Match Domains (SEL) – Link

Panda 3.9.2 (#19) — September 18, 2012

Google announces another Panda update impact 0.7 queries. This update is known as 3.9.2. Ranking flux is moderate, but not on par with a large-scale algorithm update.

  • Google Rolls Out Panda 3.9.2 Refresh (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Panda Update 3.92 Rolling Out (Or Is It Panda 20 Time?) – Link

Panda 3.9.1 (#18) — August 20, 2012

Google rolls out with another Panda data update, but the impact is fairly small. This Panda update affects less than 1% of search queries and is a minor Panda refresh. This new update is announced as 3.9.1.

  • Confirmed: Google Panda 3.9.1 Update (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Panda Refresh On August 19th: Version 3.9.1 (SEL) – Link

7-Result SERPs — August 14, 2012

In August, Google starts showing seven search results instead of 10 results for certain queries. SEOMoz publish a series of insights on Google’s new 7-result SERPs, gleaning from data collected from this new layout.

  • SERP Crowding & Shrinkage: It’s Not Your Imagination (Moz) – Link
  • 7 Is The New 10? Google Showing Fewer Results & More From Same Domain (SEL) – Link
  • SERP Crowding & Shrinkage: It’s Not Your Imagination (Moz) – Link

June/July 86-Pack — August 10, 2012

After a summer hiatus, a series of June and July search quality highlights roll out in the latest post on August 10th, 2012. This list includes 86 changes, and main updates include the Panda data and algorithm refreshes. Other major changes are regarding page quality, site link changes, site clustering and various other areas.

  • Search quality highlights: 86 changes for June and July (Inside Search) – Link
  • Google’s June-July Updates: Site Clustering, Sitelinks Changes & Focus On Page Quality (SEL) – Link

DMCA Penalty — August 10, 2012

Google announces that they’ll penalize sites who repeatedly violate the copyright rules, reportedly because of a DMCA take down requests. Originally referred to as the “Emanuel Update” in honour of Hollywood mogul Ari Emanuel who helped to prompt it. “Pirate” is a clearer name, so Google switches to calling it the “Pirate Update”.

  • An update to our search algorithms (Inside Search) – Link
  • The Pirate Update: Google Will Penalize Sites Repeatedly Accused Of Copyright Infringement (SEL) – Link
  • SearchCap: The Day In Search, August 10, 2012 (SEL) – Link

Panda 3.9 (#17) — July 24, 2012

Google rolls out a new Panda update only a month after Panda 3.8. Google claims around 1% of queries are impacted. Rankings fluctuate for 5-6 days, although no single day is high enough to stand out.

  • Official: Google Panda 3.9 Refresh (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Pushing Out Panda Update 3.9 Tonight (SEL) – Link

Google sends out a fresh batch of unnatural link warnings VIA Google webmaster tools. This step is taken by Google to fight against spam more transparent. In a complete turn around, they announce that these new warnings may not actually represent a serious problem.

  • Insanity: Google Sends New Link Warnings, Then Says You Can Ignore Them (SEL) – Link
  • Google Sends Out New Batch Of Unnatural Link Notifications (SE Round Table) – Link

Panda 3.8 (#16) — June 25, 2012

Google pushes out a new refresh to the Panda algorithm without any algorithm changes, and this update noticeably affects only around 1% of queries worldwide, according to an official Google tweet. This update has a much smaller impact than Panda 3.7.

  • Official Google Panda Update Version 3.8 On June 25th (SEL) – Link

Panda 3.7 (#15) — June 8, 2012

Google rolls out another Panda update on June 8th, 2012, claiming less than 1% of search queries are affected in the U.S. and about 1% worldwide. Ranking fluctuation data around this time suggests that the impact is substantially higher than previous Panda updates 3.5 and 3.6.

  • Confirmed: Google Panda 3.7 Update (SE Round Table) – Link
  • The Bigfoot Update (AKA Dr. Pete Goes Crazy) (Moz) – Link
  • Official Google Panda Update Version 3.7 On June 8th (SEL) – Link

May 39-Pack — June 7, 2012

In May 2012 Google released their monthly search highlights with a set of 39 exciting updates. These included deeper detection of hacked pages, new sports features, updated search application for iPhone,  new segments for Asian language like Chinese, Japanese and Korean and more.

  • Search quality highlights: 39 changes for May (Inside Search) – Link
  • Google’s May Updates: Inorganic Backlinks, Page Titles, Fresh Results & More (SEL) – Link

Penguin 1.1 (#2) — May 25, 2012

On May 25th 2012, Google rolls out its first targeted data update after the Penguin algorithm update. This confirmed that Penguin data was being processed outside of the main search index, much like Panda data.

  • Google Releases Penguin Update 2 (SEL) – Link

Knowledge Graph — May 16, 2012

Google rolls out  a new technology, “Knowledge Graph,” which is a SERP-integrated display providing supplemental information about certain people, places and things on May 16, 2012. It allows Google users to have a new way of searching not for pages that match query terms, but for entities or concepts that the words describe.

  • Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings (Google Blog) – Link
  • Google Launches Knowledge Graph To Provide Answers, Not Just Links (SEL) – Link

Google Knowledge Graph Gets More Stats and 4 New Languages – May 15, 2013

Knowledge Graph is already supported English and eight other languages: French, Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Korean. Now, Polish, Turkish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are the latest languages to be supported in the Knowledge Graph. Here is an example of Knowledge Graph in search in Traditional Chinese.

  • Google Knowledge Graph Gets More Stats and 4 New Languages (SEL) – Link 

April 52-Pack — May 4, 2012

Google publishes 52 updates in April, including changes related to the Penguin update. Some of the highlights include a 15% larger base index, updates to site links, and improved pagination handling.

  • Search quality highlights: 52 changes for April (Inside Search) – Link
  • Google’s April Updates: Bigger & Tiered Index, Document Ranking, Sitelink Changes & More (SEL) – Link

Panda 3.6 (#14) — April 27, 2012

Google releases another Panda data update, Panda 3.6, on April 27th , 2012, which has minimal impact  just a week after Panda 3.5. The implications are unclear and seem to have a relatively small impact.

  • Confirmed: Panda Update 3.6 Happened On April 27th (SEL) – Link

Penguin — April 24, 2012

Google announces the release of a new search algorithm intended to catch people who spam its search results or act against their publishers guidelines. Originally called their Web Spam Update, the title is soon changed to Penguin. Google says that new update will impact 3.1% queries in English, 3% in German, Chinese and Arabic.

  • Another step to reward high-quality sites (Inside Search) – Link
  • The Penguin Update: Google’s Webspam Algorithm Gets Official Name (SEL) – Link
  • Google Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice (SEL) – Link
  • Two Weeks In, Google Talks Penguin Update, Ways To Recover & Negative SEO (SEL) – Link
  • Another step to reward high-quality sites (Webmaster Central Blog) – Link

Panda 3.5 (#13) — April 19, 2012

Panda 3.5 is a quiet Panda update includes a mix of changes with minimal impact.

  • Google Mocks Me For Missing Panda 3.5 (SE Round Table) – Link

Parked Domain Bug — April 16, 2012

Some sites see a traffic drop from a Google mistake over parked domains. Matt Cutts, who is the head of Google web spam team, admits the mistake in a Google+ post. This bug is mistaken due to a deliberate algorithmic change. Google confirms this error in data caused some sites to be mistaken for parked domains, bringing the site rankings down.

  • Dropped In Rankings? Google’s Mistake Over Parked Domains Might Be To Blame (SEL) – Link
  • Updated: Google Update April 2012? Over SEO Penalty? (SE Round Table) – Link


March 50-Pack — April 3, 2012

Google announces another set of 50 search quality changes highlighting includes auto-complete with math symbols, site links data refresh, better indexing for profile pages, updates to image search, and changes to how queries with local intent are interpreted. This update included the confirmation of Panda 3.4.

  • Search quality highlights: 50 changes for March (Inside Search) – Link
  • Google’s March Updates: Anchor Text, Image Search, Navigational Search & More (SEL) – Link

Panda 3.4 (#12) — March 23, 2012

Google rolls out a Panda update via Twitter and estimates that about 1.6 percent of queries are affected by the refresh. No new algorithm changes are made into this Panda update.

  • Google Says Panda 3.4 Is ‘Rolling Out Now’ (SEL) – Link

Search Quality Video — March 12, 2012

Google makes the decision to avoid uncut videos from its search quality meeting. The video provides a lot of context to both Google’s process and their priorities to those interested in the algorithm.

  • The Periodic table of SEO ranking factors (SEL) – Link
  • Video! The search quality meeting, uncut (annotated) (Inside Search) – Link

Panda 3.3 (#11) — February 27, 2012

Google launches another update which refreshes data in the Panda system just three days after the one-year anniversary of Panda, making it more accurate and sensitive to recent changes on the web. This update is merely a data refresh, same as the Panda 3.2 update announced on January 15th. This makes no change to the Pandas algorithm.

  • Google Confirms Panda 3.3 Update, Plus Changes To How It Evaluates Links, Local Search Rankings & Much More (SEL) – Link
  • Confirmed: Google Panda 3.3 (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Info graphic- The Google Panda Update, One Year Later (SEL)Link

February 40-Pack (2) — February 27, 2012

Another set of search quality highlights claiming more than 40 changes is announced by Google.  This launch brings more coverage for related searches, multiple image-search updates, multiple freshness updates, more accurate detection of official pages, improvements to foreign language synonyms, Google bar updates, and web history results in 20 new countries.

  • How to Avoid Google SEO Penalties: Following JC Penny and Black Hat Search Optimization (Bright Haus)Link
  • Google’s Farmer Update: How to Save your SEO Campaign (Bright Haus)Link
  • Search quality highlights: 40 changes for FebruaryLink
  • Video: Google Penguin Attacks!!

Venice — February 27, 2012

Google mentions this monthly update with the code name “Venice”. The update localizes organic results on broad search queries.

  • Understand and Rock the Google Venice Update (Moz) – Link
  • Google Venice Update – New Ranking Opportunities for Local SEO (Catalyst eMarketing) – Link

February 17-Pack — February 3, 2012

Google releases 17 search quality highlights related to areas such as freshness, speed, and spell-checking. The major announcement is the integration of Panda into the main search index.

  • 17 search quality highlights: January (Inside Search) – Link
  • Google’s January Search Update: Panda In The Pipelines, Fresher Results, Date Detection & More (SEL) – Link

Ads Above The Fold — January 19, 2012

Matt Cutts announces  the “Ads Above the Fold” algorithm change, which  helps you to find higher quality websites in search results. This change is called the “page layout algorithm,” and affects less than 1% of searches globally. This change is officially referred as “Top Heavy” by some SEOs.

  • Page layout algorithm improvement (Inside Search) – Link
  • The Top Heavy Update: Pages With Too Many Ads Above The Fold Now Penalized By Google’s “Page Layout” Algorithm (SEL) – Link
  • Google Announces Above-the-Fold Algorithm Change (Search Engine Journal) – Link
  • Video: Google Changes Algorithm to Punish Ad-Heavy Sites:

Panda 3.2 (#10) — January 18, 2012

Google confirms a Panda update with only a data refresh of the algorithm. It includes no actual algorithm changes. This is a minor update with no new ranking signals. This is done with the intention of returning high quality sites to Google users.

  • What is Google Panda?? (Fish Eye)Link
  • Confirmed: Google Panda 3.2 Update (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Panda 3.2 Update Confirmed (SEL) – Link
  • Google Released Panda 3.2 (Premium SEO Soln)Link

Search + Your World — January 10, 2012

‘Search Plus Your World’ is Google’s new service that had features including personal results and social profiles in SERPs. This resulted in majorly personalized results, showing Google+ social data such as photos and posts in results pages.

  • Google’s New ‘Search Plus Your World’ Shows Difficulty of Managing Two Missions (The Atlantic) – Link
  • Search, plus Your World (Google Blog)Link
  • Real-Life Examples Of How Google’s “Search Plus” Pushes Google+ Over Relevancy (SEL) – Link
  • Video: Search, plus Your World:

January 30-Pack — January 5, 2012

Google announces a set of 30 changes including landing page quality detection, more relevant site liks, more rich snippets, better spam detection in image search, improved data set for related queries, related query improvements, safer searching, faster mobile browsing, among other major updates. These changes have been introduced over the month of January.

  • 30 search quality highlights (with code names!): December (Inside Search) – Link
  • Google Announces “Megasitelinks,” Image Search Improvements & Better Byline Dates (SEL) – Link 


2011 Updates Penalty — January 2011

Google gives a manual punishment to in February for offering discounts to students and faculty in exchange of links on coveted .edu links. This had affected 5% drop in their sales and 32% loss of organic traffic. JC Penney, which was penalized in February for manipulating Pagerank by selling links on their website, saw an increase in 2% inorganic traffic, according to Hitwise’s data.

  • Google Penalizes Overstock for Search Tactics (The Wall Street Journal)Link
  •’s Google Rankings – Too Good? (Webmaster World)Link
  • Google Lifts Penalty (Search Engine Watch) – Link
  • Lands in Google’s Penalty Box Over Links-for-Discounts Deal (Search Engine Watch) – Link

Attribution Update — January 28, 2011

Google rolls out an update to help sort out content attribution and to stop scrapers in response to high profile spam cases. About 2% of queries are affected according to Matt Cutts, which is a clear precursor to the Panda updates.

  • Algorithm change launched (Matt Cutts) – Link
  • It’s all about attribution (Search News Central) – Link

Panda/Farmer — February 23, 2011

Google announces that sites are hit hard due to major algorithm updates. These affect up to 12% of search results. This update is launched to crack down on thin content, content farms, sites with high ad-to-content ratios and a number of other quality issues.

How to see the Farmer Update’s Effect on Your Site(s) with Google Analytics. Just check out the following:

  • Google Forecloses On Content Farms With “Panda” Algorithm Update (SEL) – Link
  • TED 2011: The ‘Panda’ That Hates Farms: A Q&A With Google’s Top Search Engineers (Wired) – Link
  • Google’s Farmer/Panda Update: Analysis of Winners vs. Losers (Moz) – Link
  • Panda updates timeline (Visualy)Link

The +1 Button — March 30, 2011

Google launches the +1 button, nearly a year after the Facebook like button spread across the web. Google  allows you to “+1” the search results and ads that you like.

  • Google +1 Button (Google) – Link
  • Meet +1: Google’s Answer To The Facebook Like Button (SEL) – Link

Panda 2.0 (#2) — April 11, 2011

Google launches a substantial algorithm change aimed at identifying low quality pages and sites. Google rolls out the Panda update to all English queries worldwide, not limited to English-speaking countries. However, the original algorithm update impacts only 12% of US queries.

  • High-quality sites algorithm goes global, incorporates user feedback (Webmaster Central Blog) – Link
  • Panda 2.0: Google Rolls Out Panda Update Internationally & Incorporates Searcher Blocking Data (SEL) – Link
  • Video: SEO On-Page optimization tips:

Panda 2.1 (#3) — May 9, 2011

Google rolls out with another round of changes, initially dubbed as “Panda 3.0.” These set of changes aren’t discussed by Google in detail and seem to be relatively minor changes.

  • It’s Panda Update 2.1, Not Panda 3.0, Google Says (SEL) – Link
  • Google Panda 3.0 (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Panda Update Vs. Google Penguin Updates (Brick Marketing) – Link — June 2, 2011, announces a new initiative from Google, Bing and Yahoo to create and support a common set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages. aims to be a one-stop resource for better understanding of search websites.

  • Google, Bing & Yahoo Unite To Make Search Listings Richer Through Structured Data (SEL) – Link
  • Schema, Main Page – Link

Panda 2.2 (#4) — June 21, 2011

Google acknowledges the Panda 2.2 update’s impact on sites and data. This update occurrs separately from the main index and is not in real time, reminiscent of early Google Dance updates.

  • Official: Google Panda Update 2.2 Is Live (SEL)Link
  • Why Google Panda Is More A Ranking Factor Than Algorithm Update (SEL)Link
  • Coming Soon: Google Panda Update 2.2 (SEL)Link

Google+ — June 28, 2011

Google launches a serious attack on Facebook with Google+ after a number of social media failures. Google fulfills the most basic needs of people looking to connect with others. Google+ revolves around circles for sharing content, and can be integrated into products like Gmail. This is adopted by the people and reaches 10M users within two weeks.

  • Introducing the Google+ project: Real-life sharing, rethought for the web (Google Blog) – Link
  • Larry Page On Google+: Over 10 Million Users, 1 Billion Items Being Shared Per Day (Tech Crunch) – Link
  • Video: Google+: A quick look:

Panda 2.3 (#5) — July 23, 2011

Google rolls out another Panda update as suggested by Webmaster chatter. It’s unclear whether new features were introduced in this update, or if it was simply an update to Panda data and ranking factors.

  • Official: Google Panda 2.3 Update Is Live (SEL) – Link
  • A Holistic Look at Panda with Vanessa Fox (Stone Temple) – Link

Panda 2.4 (#6) — August 12, 2011

Google releases Panda 2.4 internationally, both for English-language queries globally and non-English queries except for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. This update rolls out algorithmic search improvements in different languages and impacts about 6-9% of queries. This impact is still comparatively lower than the initial launch of Panda.

  • High-quality sites algorithm launched in additional languages (Webmaster Central Blog) – Link
  • Google Panda Update 2.4: Panda Goes International, In Most Languages (SEL) – Link
  • Official: Google Panda 2.4 Rolls Out to Most Languages (SE Round Table) – Link

Expanded Sitelinks — August 16, 2011

Google has officially rolled out expanded site-links, most often for brand queries. At first these were a set of 12 packs, but Google limits the expands sitelinks to 6 after the roll-out.

  • The evolution of sitelinks: expanded and improved (Inside Search) – Link
  • Official: Google Sitelinks Expands To 12 Pack (SEL) – Link

Google’s Knowledge Graph Gains “Carousel,” Goes Worldwide In English – August 8 2012

  • Google’s Knowledge Graph Gains “Carousel,” Goes Worldwide In English – Link

Pagination Elements — September 15, 2011

Google comes out with link attributes, rel=”next” and rel=”prev”, in order to help fix crawl and duplication problems generated by pagination. This is also intended to indicate the relationship between URL components in a paginated series. These attributes are much like rel=”canonical”, which acts as strong hint for duplicate content.

  • Pagination with rel=“next” and rel=“prev” (Webmaster Central Blog) – Link
  • Google Provides New Options for Paginated Content (SEL) – Link

516 Algo Updates — September 21, 2011

This is an amazing revelation, not an algorithmic update. Eric Schmidit, Google CEO, told Congress that Google had made 516 updates in 2010 and they tested over 13,000 updates.

  • PDF: Testimony of Eric Schmidt (SEL) – Link

Panda 2.5 (#7) — September 28, 2011

Google rolls out another Panda update after more than a month. Specific details of changes made  are unclear, and some sites report large scale losses.

  • Confirmed: Google Panda 2.5 Update Arrived This Week (SEL) – Link
  • Google Panda 2.5: Losers Include Today Show, The Next Web; Winners Include YouTube, Fox News (SEL) – Link

Panda “Flux” (#8) — October 5, 2011

Matt Cutts tweets: ”Expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks, but will have less impact than previous updates gave with a figure of ~2%.” Other main Panda updates occur on 10/3, 10/13 and 11/18.

  • Panda Update 3.0 Live & Panda “Flux” (SEL) – Link
  • Google Panda Update 3.1: “Minor” One Made Live On November 18th (SEL) – Link

Query Encryption — October 18, 2011

Google announces that they’ll be encrypting search queries for privacy reasons. All users who are logged in will be directly redirected to Google Secure Search and all features are included from the regular Google interface. Connection is encrypted and Google only will know the queries that you have typed.

  • Making search more secure (Google Blog) – Link
  • Google Encrypted Search for Logged-in Users (Google System blog) – Link
  • Google Hides Search Referral Data with New SSL Implementation – Emergency Whiteboard Friday  (Moz)

Freshness Update — November 3, 2011

Google rolls out a new search algorithm change which helps to make the search results “fresher.” This update on freshness impacts up to 35% of queries and primarily affects time-sensitive results.

  • Giving you fresher, more recent search results (Google Blog) – Link
  • Google Search Algorithm Change For Freshness To Impact 35% Of Searches; Twitter Firehose Remains Off (SEL) – Link
  • Google’s “Freshness” Update – Whiteboard Friday

10-Pack of Updates — November 14, 2011

On November14th 2011, Matt Cutts releases a post with 10 recent algorithm updates. It’s not clear what the timeline is and most are small updates.

  • Ten recent algorithm changes (Google Search Blog) – Link
  • Improved Snippets, Rank Boost For “Official” Pages Among 10 New Google Algorithm Changes (SEL) – Link

Panda 3.1 (#9) — November 18, 2011

After the launch of Panda 2.5, Google enters a period of “Panda Flux” where updates start happening more frequently, although most are relatively minor. This update is announced as Panda 3.1, which is officially launched on November 18th 2011 by some industry analysts. Google pushes out a minor Panda update, effecting less than 1% of all searches.

  • Google Panda 3.1 Update : 11/18 (SE Round Table) – Link

December 10-Pack — December 1, 2011

Google rolls out another list of 10 search improvement updates. Related query refinements, parked domain detection, image search freshness, and blog search freshness were included in the list of updates. The exact dates of these updates are not provided.

  • Search quality highlights: new monthly series on algorithm changes (Inside Search) – Link
  • Google: Parked Domains, Scraper Sites Targeted Among New Search Changes (SEL) – Link

2010 Updates

Google Places — April 2010

Google rolls out “Places” in September 2009, but that was a only a part of Google Maps.  Google officially launches “Google Places,” which re-branded the Local Business Center and integrates Places pages more closely with local search results. This also brings a number of features including simple ways to advertise, service areas, customized QR codes, Favorite Places and business photo shoots.

  • Google Local Business Center Becomes “Google Places” (SEL) – Link
  • Introducing Google Places (Google Blog) – Link
  • Make Google Place Pages your business’ megaphone (Google Latlong) – Link

May Day — May 2010

Webmaster World name algorithm change as “May Day” due to a significant drops in their long-tail traffic during late April and early May.  This change impacts long-tail keywords, and sites with large-scale thin content seem to be hit especially hard, foreshadowing a Panda update.

  • Google Confirms “Mayday” Update Impacts Long Tail Traffic (SEL)Link
  • Google’s Matt Cutts On May Day Update (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Makes One Change Per Day To Search Algorithm (SEL) – Link
  • Video: How many search algorithm changes were made in 2009?

Caffeine (Rollout) — June 2010

As a result of testing for months, Google announce the completion of a new web indexing system called “Caffeine.” Google provides 50% fresher results for web searches than last index, and provide the largest collection of web content offered. Caffeine infrastructure not only increases Google’s raw speed, but also integrates crawling and indexation much more tightly.

  • Our new search index: Caffeine (Google Blog) – Link
  • Google’s New Indexing Infrastructure “Caffeine” Now Live (SEL) – Link

Brand Update — August 2010

Google starts allowing the same domain to appear multiple times on search engine resulting pages.  Previously domains were limited to only 1-2 listings with indented results.

  • Google Search Results Dominated By One Domain (SEL) – Link
  • Google’s Norvig: After The Top Result, There’s No Right Or Wrong (SEL) – Link

Google Instant — September 2010

Google launches “Google Instant” on September 2010, where people can get results as they type their queries. It’s a simple and straight forward idea of being able to search for partial queries or provide some interactive feedback while searching. The impact is ultimately fairly small.

  • Google Instant – Link
  • Google Instant: Fewer Changes to SEO than the Average Algo Update (Moz) – Link
  • Search: now faster than the speed of type (Google Blog) – Link
  • Video: Google Instant: Google Announcement! September 8, 2010

Instant Previews — November 2010

Google offers a page preview feature called “Instant Previews.” A magnifying glass icon appears on the Google search results, allowing search visitors for viewing a quick preview of landing pages directly from search engine resulting pages. This feature helps Google to focus on landing pages, design, and usability while saving time in the searching process.

  • Beyond Instant results: Instant Previews (Google Blog) – Link

Negative Reviews — December 2010

The New York Times publishes a story about an e-commerce site, DecorMyEyes, who claims to be generating business by getting online negative reviews. As a result of this reason, Google adjusted the algorithm to target the sites using the similar tactics.

  • A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web (NY Times) – Link
  • Being bad to your customers is bad for business (Googel Blog – Link
  • Google Updates Rankings to Penalize Negative Reviews (Search Engine People) – Link

Social Signals — December 2010

Both Google and Bing have added many social search features over the past year, and the two confirm the use of social signals in determining rank, including data from Twitter and Facebook. Matt Cutts confirms this is relatively a new development for Google.

  • What Social Signals Do Google & Bing Really Count? (SEL) – Link
  • Google Webmaster Video Reconfirms Use Of Social Signals (SEL)Link
  • Video: Does Google use data from social sites in ranking?


2009 Updates

Real-time Search — December 2009

Google makes minor improvements to Google real-time search for Google News, newly indexed content and a number of other SERPs. Improvements are made to Google’s conversation view, location refinements and Google Alerts. Conversation view includes replies and Re-tweets.

  • Google Launches Real Time Search Results (SEL) – Link
  • Google Improves Realtime Search (Mashable) – Link
  • Video: Real Time Search
  • Video: Real Time Search Event

Caffeine (Preview) — August 2009

Google releases a secret project of “next-generation architecture for Google’s web search.” This new architecture includes crawling, indexing and ranking changes.  Google provides the developer with a preview and asks the webmasters to try it out instead of simply incorporating these changes into their existing infrastructure.

  • Google Caffeine: A Detailed Test of the New Google (Mashable) – Link
  • Help test some next-generation infrastructure (Webmaster Central Blog) – Link
  • Specify your canonical (Webmaster Central Blog) – Link

Rel-canonical Tag — February 2009

The support for the Canonical Tag is jointly announced by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, which allows the webmasters to send the canonicalization signals to search bots without impacting human visitors.

  • Learn about the Canonical Link Element in 5 minutes (Matt Cutts) – Link
  • Canonical URL Tag – The Most Important Advancement in SEO Practices Since Sitemaps (Moz) – Link

Vince — February 2009

A major update was reported by SEOs for strongly favouring big brands. Matt Cutts called Vince a “minor change,” but others feel that there will be long term implications.

  • Big Brands? Google Brand Promotion: New Search Engine Rankings Place Heavy Emphasis on Branding (SEO Book) – Link
  • Google’s Vince Update Produces Big Brand Rankings; Google Calls It A Trust “Change” (SEL) – Link
  • Video: Is Google putting more weight on brands in rankings?


2008 Updates

Dewey — April 2008

At the end of March and in early April, a large scale shuffle occurs, but the specifics are unclear. Some of them suspected that Google is pushing its own internal properties, including Google Books, but the evidence is limited.

  • Google’s Cutts Asking for Feedback on March/April ’08 Update (The “Dewey” Update) (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Search Index March ’08 Update Underway? (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Google Update Dewey – Google Confirms Algorithm Change (SEL) – Link
  • Video: Google Penguin Poll, Advertorial Spam, Bing News & Petri Dish Logo

Google Suggest — August 2008

Google introduces “Suggest” in August 2008. This displays suggested searches in a drop-down menu below the search box as visitors type in their queries.This will later become Google Instant.

  • Finally Gets Google Suggest Feature (SEL) – Link
  • At a loss for words? (Google Blog) – Link
  • Google Suggest to Be Set as Default on Homepage (Search Engine Watch) – Link


2007 Updates

Universal Search — May 2007

Google launches “Universal Search” and “Blended Results” in May 2007. Google Universal Search is a way for Google to blend results from vertical search engines like Google Images or Google News into its web search listings.

  • Google Launches “Universal Search” & Blended Results (SEL) – Link

Buffy — June 2007

The “Buffy” update is announced as Vanessa Fox leaves Google. Matt Cutts suggested that Buffy is a collection of smaller changes, and still no one is sure about what happened.

  • Google “Buffy” Update – June Update (SE Round Table) – Link
  • SMX Seattle wrap-up (Matt Cutts)Link

Google Bomb Fix – January 2007

Google-bombing is a reference to how people used to link to pages with embarrassing words in the links that they wanted pages to rank for. This helped remove the ‘miserable failure’ ranking for posts on G. W Bush and other similar cases.

  • Google Kills Bush’s Miserable Failure Search & Other Google Bombs (SEL) – Link


2006 Updates

Supplemental Update — November 2006

Google seems to make changes to the supplemental index and how filtered pages are treated throughout 2006. They also claimed that supplemental is not a penalty, even though someone feel that way. Adam says, “When your site has pages in our supplemental index, it does not indicate that your site has been penalized.”

  • Confusion Over Google’s Supplemental Index (SE Round Table) – Link

False Alarm — December 2006

Google reports no major changes in December 2006, although there are stirrings in some reports of major ranking changes in November.

  • Confusion Over Google’s Supplemental Index (SE Round Table) – Link


2005 Updates

Nofollow — January 2005

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft jointly introduce the “nofollow” attribute to combat spam and control outbound link quality. Both blog comments and low quality links will be cleaned up with the help of nofollow. This is not an algorithmic change, but still shows high impacts.

  • Google, Yahoo, MSN Unite On Support For Nofollow Attribute For Links – Link
  • Preventing comment spam (Google Blog) – Link

Allegra — February 2005

In February 2005 there’s a major update to the Google Algorithm, which causes significant ranking changes. This update is named  “The Allegra Update.”  Webmasters witness ranking changes, but the specifics of the update are unclear. Some of them feel that Allegra affected the “sandbox,” some feel that LSI has been tweaked, while others believe that it’s a beginning to penalize suspicious links.

  • Google’s Feb. 2005 Update (SE Watch) – Link
  • Google Update History Documented (SE Round Table) – Link

Bourbon — May 2005

Matt Cutts, GoogleGuy announced that Google is rolling out 3.5 change in search quality. Webmaster World members speculate that Bourbon changed how duplicate content and non-canonical URLs are treated.

  • Google Update “BOURBON” (Jonh Battelle’s Blog) – Link
  • Bourbon Update Survival Kit (SE Round Table) – Link

XML Sitemaps — June 2005

Google unveils a new Google Sitemaps program which allow the webmasters to submit XML sitemap via Webmaster Tools. This helps the site owner to feed it pages they would like to have included in Google’s web index.

  • New “Google Sitemaps” Web Page Feed Program (SE Watch) – Link

Personalized Search — June 2005

Google launches Personalized Search which uses a user’s search history to get better results.

  • Google Relaunches Personal Search – This Time, It Really Is Personal (SE Watch) – Link
  • Search gets personal (Google Blog) – Link

Gilligan — September 2005

Google claims that there is no major update, but webmasters see some changes. Matt Cutts writes a blog post saying that data index is done daily by Google, but Toolbar PR and some other metrics are updated only once in every three months.

  • Google’s Cutts Says Not An Update – I Say An Update, Just Not A Dance (SE Watch) – Link
  • What’s an update? (Matt Cutts) – Link

Google Local/Maps — October 2005

With the launch of Google Local, users are able to go to one location and from there, they can find all the local and mapping information.  Local Business Center launches in March 2005, encouraging the businesses to update their information and encouraging Google to merge its Map data into the Local Business Center, which results in a number of changes in SEO.

  • Google Merges Local and Maps Products (Google Press) – Link

Jagger — October 2005

Jagger rolls the 3 stages from September to November 2005, but the greatest impact occurs in October. In October 2005, Google releases a set of updates, mainly focusing on low-quality links, including reciprocal links, paid links and link farms.

  • A Review Of The Jagger 2 Update (SE Round Table) – Link
  • Dealing With Consequences of Jagger Update (Webmaster World) – Link

Big Daddy — December 2005

Big Daddy, a technically infrastructure update, rolls out in December 2005, wrapping up in March 2006. This technical update changes the way Google handles URL canonicalization, redirects(301/302) and other technical issues.

  • Indexing timeline (Matt Cutts) – Link
  • Todd, Greg & Matt Cutts on WebMasterRadio (Moz) – Link


2004 Updates

Austin — January 2004

Some websites that hadn’t been hit too hard in Google’s Florida update in November 2003 get hit hard in January 2004. The latest update called “Austin,” begins to ‘sound’ like elections. This update notices that Google put the “Hilltop” algorithm into action and begins to consider the page relevance seriously. In this update, Google cracks down on on-page tactics which includes META-tag stuffing and invisible text.

  • The latest on update Austin (Google’s January update) (SEJ) – Link
  • Google Update Austin: Google Update Florida Again (Search Marketing Info) – Link

Brandy — February 2004

The latest update named “Brandy” rolls out a series of changes including Latent Semantic Indexing(LSI), massive index expansion, the concept of link “neighborhoods,” and increased attention to anchor text relevance. Expansion of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) gives Google the ability to understand synonyms, and also takes the keyword analysis to the next level.

  • How To Beat Google’s ‘Brandy’ Update (Site Point) – Link

Google IPO — August 2004

Google IPO is not an algorithm update, but it is a major event in Google’s history. Google announces that it will go public at $85 share. Google sells its $19M shares and raises $1.67B in capital. They set their market value at over $20B and Google doubles by January 2005.

  • Google IPO priced at $85 a share (CNN) – Link


2003 Updates

Boston- February 2003

This is the first named Google update, which is announced at SES Boston.  The first few updates are the combination of algorithm changes and major index refreshes, which are coined as “Google Dance.” These updates will majorly shake up the search engine results pages (SERPs) for 3-5 days, and occur approximately 10 times per year. The monthly ideas quickly died due to more frequent updates.

  • How Google Names Its Algorithm Updates & Products (SE Watch) – Link

Cassandra — April 2003

Google cracks down on basic link-quality issues, such as massive linking from co-owned domains. Cassandra also comes down hard on hidden text and hidden links.

  • How Google Names Its Algorithm Updates & Products (SE Watch) – Link

Dominic — May 2003

“Domini” is named after a pizza place in Boston which was frequented by PubCon attendees. The exact nature of Dominic is unclear, and those changes are observed in May. Google bots “Freshbot” and “Deepcrawler” hit the web. Google dramatically changes the way backlinks are counted.

  • Understanding Dominic – Part 2 (Webmaster World) – Link

Esmerelda — June 2003

In June 2003 Google rolls out “Esmerelda,”  which brings the end of the “Google Dance” updates, replacing it with “Everflux,” Google’s new way of increasing the rate at which Search Results are updated. This seems to be happening on a monthly on-going basis

  • Google Update Esmeralda (Kuro5hin) – Link
  • Google June 2003 : Update Esmeralda Part 2 (Webmaster World) – Link

Supplemental-ResultsFritz — July 2003

“Fritz” comes in July 2003. This update allows the index to change on a daily basis instead of monthly basis, and increases the incremental speeds of the results returned.

  • Exclusive: How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web (Wired) – Link

Google Supplemental Index — September 2003

Google brings “Supplemental Index” in September which allows more documents to be processed and indexed without sacrificing performance. This update has become the most debated SEO topic until it was reintegrated.

  • Search Engine Size Wars & Google’s Supplemental Results (Search Engine Watch) – Link

Florida — November 2003

Florida is the update which puts updates on the map. This update causes a significant change to the Google’s ranking algorithm, which affects some sites to lose the top positions for some search terms.  Florida puts an end to late 90s SEO tactics like keyword stuffing, which makes  the update more interesting.

  • What Happened To My Site On Google? (Search Engine Watch) – Link
  • Florida Google Dance Resources (Search Engine Watch) – Link


2002 Updates

1st Documented Update — September 2002

Before  the first named update “Boston”, there is major shuffle in the fall of 2002. The changes made during September 2001 are unclear, but this appears to be more than the monthly Google Dance and Page Rank update.

  • September, 2002 Google Update Discussion – Part 1 (Webmaster World) – Link
  • Dancing the Google Dance | And a One Algo Change, Two Algo Change, Go! (Level 343) – Link


2000 Updates

Google Toolbar — December 2000

Google launches their Google Toolbar on December 11th 2000, guaranteeing SEO arguments for years to come.  This toolbar helps Internet users find information fast, with highly relevant search technology from any page on the web. Google Toolbar automatically determines the importance of the web page for every browsed page with Google’s Page Rank Technology™.

  • Google Launches The Google Toolbar (Google Press) – Link
  • Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO (Matt Cutts) – Link