Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results in significant ways. Marketers and SEO experts need to be aware of these in order to see the effect on their websites and that of their clients.
Google Algorithm Change History
1st August 2018
Google Search Quality Update Google has officially confirmed that it has released a major search quality update. According to its statement, the update is not focused on demoting bad content, but rather on providing more relevant results. Webmasters are still advised to look out for potential rankings drops.
17th April 2018
Core Algo Update in April Google has confirmed that it released a core algorithm update in mid-April. Updates like this happen several times a year, and there are usually no particular recipes for fixing position drops. The SEMrush Sensor registered this update with peaks on April 18 and 20.
9th March 2018
Google Core Algo Update Google representatives have confirmed that they released a core ranking algorithm update over the weekend. Updates like this occur several times a year, but Google has no specific recommendations on what webmasters should fix if they have been hit by this update.
13th December 2017
Google Update Another Google update hit websites in the middle of December. It was reported by SEMrush Sensor and the Webmaster World experts and later confirmed by Google’s representatives. The analysis performed by Barry Schwarz suggests that the update hit at least two website categories: – Sites with too many landing pages targeting KW permutations – Sites with too many ads or thin content
15th November 2017
Mid-November Google Update Webmasters and the SEMrush Sensor have reported a high level of fluctuations in rankings this week, suggesting a significant update. Preliminary analysis shows that sites with lots of ads and thin content were affected.
22nd August 2017
Hawk Local Algorithm Update The changes in the local pack rankings that were attributed to the Possum algorithm update a year ago now seem to have been partially rolled back. Possum previously forced similar businesses located near each other to be filtered out of local search results. On August 22, Google released a refined algorithm update, dubbed “Hawk,” which returned the majority of those businesses to the local pack. Nevertheless, businesses that share the same building can still be filtered out.
19th August 2017
Google Quality Update in late August Many websites experienced significant changes in rankings on August 14 and August 19. The analysis of the patterns suggests that another quality update has been rolled out, penalizing sites with bad user experience, such as – Thin content with lots of ads – Broken links and/or Flash – Low relevance to the query
24th June 2017
Significant Long-term Google Update with the SEMrush Sensor showing all-time-high volatility scores, this seems to be the biggest update so far. Many webmasters have also confirmed that they’ve seen traffic changes. Despite all efforts, this analysis has revealed no patterns for the update, and there has been no official announcement from Google.
17th May 2017
Weeklong Google Update reporting high volatility in Google’s search results. Some webmasters have also confirmed that there was an update. Although this change may be caused by the recent drop of the Featured Snippet link from search results, it is not enough to completely explain the shifts, which have been occurring for a week already.
8th March 2017
Large Google Rankings Update ‘Fred’ Webmaster forums have reported numerous position and traffic shifts. The SEMrush Sensor is also showing a High level of volatility this day. Google’s representatives have officially confirmed that they released an update that specifically targets websites with “quality issues.”
6th March 2017
Google shows more Top Stories in Related Picks Google has added a new feature that allows users to see more AMPs in search results. Some pages now show the ‘Related picks’ section under Top Stories, which can be expanded into a series of AMPs.
7th February 2017
Google Algorithm Update on Feb 7th Although less than a week has passed since the previous shift in rankings, it appears that Google is rolling out another ranking algorithm update. Many webmasters and tracking tools, including SEMrush Sensor, have reported significant rankings changes in Google search results
Feb 1, 2017
Google Algo Update Seems to Target PBNs Webmasters and the Black Hat World forum have reported that there seems to be a Google update penalizing PBNs (Private Blog Networks), a black hat SEO technique. Although these claims are supported by data from different tracking tools, including SEMrush Sensor, Google has not officially confirmed this update.
10th January 2017
Intrusive Interstitials Mobile Penalty Google has announced that starting January 10th it will be penalizing mobile pages with interstitials that impede user access to content. Here are the examples of techniques that could be penalized: – Pop-ups that cover the main content – Standalone interstitial that needs to be dismissed to access the main content – Hiding the main content below the fold
7th December 2016
Desktop Search UI Update Google has updated the UI of its desktop search, bringing it closer to mobile UI. Apart from several visual changes, the desktop users now see more cards.
23rd November 2016
AMP Carousels for Hotel Listings Google now shows a new AMP Carousel for hotel listings in mobile search results.
10th November 2016
Google Algo Update: Mobile Impacted Several SERP tracking tools indicated significant changes in rankings on Thursday, November 10th. Symptoms indicate mobile-related changes, probably testing of the mobile-first index.
13th October 2016
Penguin 4.0 rollout complete Gary Illyes from Google confirmed that the rollout of Penguin 4.0 which started on September 23rd is completed by now.
28th September 2016 Penguin 4.0 Recoveries start to roll out Penguin 4.0 penalty recoveries started to roll out on September 28th, according to Gary Illyes from Google. They seem to be completed by the beginning of next week, October 3rd.
23rd September 2016
Penguin 4.0 launch Google has officially launched Penguin 4.0. The update eliminates the long wait for site owners to recover if they have been penalized. Also, Penguin is now part of the core algorithm, same as Panda.
20th September 2016
AMPs indexed in organic search Google has officially rolled out Accelerated Mobile Pages in organic search results around the world. Corresponding pages may see an increase in mobile traffic Google organic
2nd September 2016
Google Core Algo Update on Weekend Changes in core and local web search results have been widely reported by webmasters and ranking tools. John Mueller of Google did not officially confirm the update, although said it is definitely not Penguin 4.0.
26th July 2016
Expanded Text Ads are Live Google has officially launched expanded text ads. The extra-long ads with double headlines are now available across all devices. This may potentially change paid traffic flows.
12th May 2016
Mobile Friendly Boost Google representatives announce the completion of an update which improves positions of mobile friendly websites in mobile search
20th February 2016
Right sidebar Ads removed Google will no longer show ads in the right sidebar. Now it will place up to four ads above the search results and all the rest will be moved to the bottom of the results page, which may lead to a drop-in click-through rates. This update is limited to desktop search results.
16th January 2016
Burj Khalifa Update Another core algorithm update confirmed by Google’s representatives after significant fluctuations on the weekend. Google organic
8th January 2016
Google Core Update Google’s representatives have confirmed that they rolled out a core ranking algorithm update that took more than a week to complete.
26th October 2015
RankBrain Introduction Google announced the usage of the machine-learning algorithm called RankBrain to sort search results.
22nd June 2015
Panda 4.2 Google has announced that it has launched a Panda refresh, but it may take months to fully roll out.
3rd May 2015
The Quality Update Google has confirmed that it made changes to its core ranking algorithm in terms of how quality signals are processed.
22nd April 2015
Mobile Friendly Update Google has begun the global rollout of the mobile-friendly update that impacts search rankings on mobile devices only. This update introduces mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor and applies only to individual pages, not entire websites.
5th February 2015
Unnamed Update Multiple SERP-trackers and many webmasters reported major flux in Google SERPs. Google did not officially confirm an update.
22nd December 2014
Pigeon Expands Google’s major local algorithm update, Pigeon, expanded to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
24th October 2014
Google Pirate Update Google announced an update to its filtering system. Near the end of the month torrent tracker websites took a dive in the search results.
23rd October 2014
Panda 4.1 Google has announced that the latest version of its Panda Update — a filter designed to penalize “thin” or poor content from ranking well — has been released.
17th October 2014
Penguin 3.0 Google updated their Penguin algorithm with version 3.0. It evaluates a site’s backlink profile and may demote a site if it is poor.
2nd October 2014
In the News’ Box Google made a change in the display of the News-box results and later announced they had expanded the news websites links set.
Aug 24, 2014
Authorship Removed John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools announced that Google will completely stop showing authorship information in search results – both author photos and bylines.
6th August 2014
HTTPS as rank signal Google officially announced their decision to start using HTTPS as a ranking signal. Initially, the update would affect less than 1% of queries, but we should expect for HTTPS to gain weight over time.
12th June 2014
Payday Loan 3.0 The third version of PayDay Loan algorithm is officially announced, specifically targeting “very spammy queries”
19th May 2014
Panda 4.0 Matt Cutts announced the release of a major Panda update, affecting different languages to different degrees. For English-language the number of affected queries revolving around 7,5%
16th May 2014
Payday Loan 2.0 Google has confirmed they have released a new algorithm update to their Payday Loan Algorithm update over this weekend. This algorithm specifically targets “very spammy queries”.
24th March 2014
Unnamed Update Major algorithm flux trackers and sites reported ranking changes, but this update was never confirmed by Google.
6th February 2014
Top Heavy 3 Google has released a refresh of its Page Layout Algorithm. The filter downgrades the ranking of a web page with too many ads at the top or if the ads are deemed too distracting for users.
22nd October 2013
AdRank Update Google announced a change to Ad Rank, its ad-serving calculation in AdWords that determines where your ad shows and how much you’ll pay per click. In addition to max CPC bid and quality score, Ad Rank will now factor in the expected impact from ad extensions and formats.
4th October 2013
Penguin 2.1 The fifth confirmed release of Google’s “Penguin” spam fighting algorithm went live, expected to impact about 1 per cent of all searches.
20th August 2013
Hummingbird Officially announced by Google a month later, Hummingbird is an update of its core ranking algorithm.
27th July 2013
Multi-Week Update A series of updates confirmed by Google representatives, spanning several weeks.
May 22, 2013
Penguin 2.0 Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, announced the new Penguin 2.0 update saying that 2.3% of English queries will be noticeably impacted by this update.
14th March 2013
Panda #25 Final update before incorporation of Panda into the main algorithm.
22nd January 2013
Panda #24 Official Panda update announced by Google.
21st December 2012
Panda #23 Official Panda update announced by Google.
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Andrew Woolley has been doing SEO for five years and digital marketing for over ten years. Trained and qualified in various disciples he is able to communicate complex elements in simple, practical ways that generate results. Track record in helping hundreds of businesses with their online brand credibility. A regular contributor to several SEO forums and online directories