Google Algorithm Updates

google algorithm updates

What are Google Algorithms?

Google’s algorithms constitute a sophisticated system designed to retrieve data from its extensive search index, providing optimal results for user queries. Utilizing a combination of intricate algorithms and a myriad of ranking factors, the search engine ensures the delivery of webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

In its nascent stages, Google implemented only a few updates to its algorithms. However, in the contemporary digital landscape, the search giant undertakes thousands of changes annually, reflecting its ongoing commitment to refining and enhancing the search experience.

The History of Google Algorithm Updates- 2003- Today

Presented in reverse chronological order, the following encapsulates a comprehensive account of Google algorithm updates—an essential compendium for your awareness:

2023 Google algorithm updates

November 2023 reviews update

November: 8

➤ Google has pledged ongoing improvements to its reviews system without pre-announcing updates. The focus is on continuous enhancement rather than publicly disclosing future changes.

➤ Rollout overlapped with November 2023 core update (November- 2).

November 2023 core update

November: 2

➤ This enhancement pertains to a distinct core system as opposed to the October 2023 core update, signifying a focused improvement in a separate operational domain.

➤ Rollout expected to take up to two weeks

➤ Rollout overlapped with November 2023 reviews update (November 8).

October 2023 core update

October: 5

➤ Google offered no new guidance.

➤ Rollout completed October- 19 (14 days).

➤ A glitch adversely affected Discover traffic.

➤ Rollout overlapped with Oct. 2023 spam update (October 4).

➤ Significant fluctuations in rankings observed during the concurrent core and spam updates.

October 2023 spam update

October 4

➤ Enhanced Google’s language coverage, encompassing Turkish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Hindi, and Chinese, along with an upgraded focus on combating various spam types such as cloaking, hacked content, auto-generated material, and scraped content.

➤ Rollout completed October- 20 (15 days).

➤ Rollout overlapped with Oct. 2023 core update (October 5).

September 2023 helpful content system update

September: 14

➤ Google mentioned that this update includes an “enhanced classifier.”

➤ Changes in Google’s search documentation, like updates to hosted third-party content, content date adjustments, and content additions/removals, offer hints about the modifications made.

➤ Rollout completed September- 28 (14 days)

➤ This update was more keenly felt within the SEO industry niche.

August 2023 core update

August: 22

➤ Google offered no new guidance.

➤ Rollout completed September 7 (16 days)

➤ The latest update, although substantial in size, seemed less impactful compared to earlier releases.

Topic authority system

May: 23

➤ This system strives to facilitate the discovery of pertinent, authoritative, and informative content within Google Search and Google News.

➤ The system assesses various indicators to gauge the proficiency of a publication in a particular topic or location.

➤ Google stated that they have employed this system for “several years,” yet this marked the initial occasion of public discussion about it.

April 2023 reviews update

April: 12

➤ Google modified its “product reviews system” to simply “reviews system.”

➤ Google revised its guidance on product reviews to encompass all review types, including services, businesses, destinations, and media.

➤ Rollout completed: April- 25 (13 days)

➤ More erratic than the previous revisions in product reviews.

March 2023 core update

March: 15

➤ Google offered no new guidance.

➤ Rollout completed: March- 28 (13 days).

➤ Volatility matched or surpassed that of previous core updates.

February 2023 product reviews update

February: 21

➤ Extended support to 10 more languages from English-only.

➤ Rollout completed: March- 7 (14 days).

➤ More erratic than prior updates in product reviews.

➤ This was the final product reviews update.

2022 Google Algorithm Updates

December 2022 link spam update

December: 14

➤ A worldwide revision designed to nullify credit associated with artificial links.

➤ Rollout coincided with the beneficial content system update on December 6.

➤ Rollout completed: January 12 (29 days – took longer than estimated due to the holidays).

Google helpful content system update

December: 6

➤ Google’s classifier received additional signals.

➤ Launched worldwide, affecting every language.

➤ Rollout overlapped with the link spam update (December 14).

➤ Rollout completed: January 12 (38 days, took longer than estimated due to the holidays).

October 2022 spam update

October: 19

➤ Google did not explicitly specify whether this update targeted links, content, or other spam forms.

➤ Global update, impacted all languages.

➤ Rollout completed: October- 21 (less than 48 hours).

September 2022 product reviews update

September: 20

➤ Rollout overlapped with the Sept. 2022 Core Update.

➤ Intended to acknowledge and commend English-language product reviews that proved beneficial and valuable to individuals conducting searches.

➤ Rollout completed: September 26 (6 days).

➤ On October 12th, Google included additional example categories of websites that could potentially be affected by the product reviews update.

September 2022 core update

September: 12

➤ Released three days following the completion of the beneficial content update rollout.

➤ Less impactful than prior core updates.

➤ Rollout completed: September 26 (14 days).

August 2022 helpful content update

August: 25

➤ A site-wide signal prioritizing content that helps or informs, not just aiming for high search rankings.

➤ Google’s 15 questions for content reviews prioritize a human-first approach, guiding creators to ensure user-centric content.

➤ Google anticipated that online education materials, arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content would bear the brunt of the impact. Nevertheless, the actual repercussions were primarily concentrated in specific categories, such as ringtones, coding, and lyrics.

➤ Announced August 18, it began rolling out August 25.

➤ Rollout completed: September 9 (15 days)

➤ Its overall impact was relatively small.

July 2022 product reviews update

July: 27

➤ Google probably refreshed its algorithm, possibly making subtle adjustments, to enhance the prioritization of high-quality product reviews.

➤ Reviewed the standard help document outlining guidelines for crafting product reviews.

➤ Rollout completed: August 4 (6 days)

➤ This recent update exhibited limited impact across a broad spectrum and demonstrated minimal fluctuation in rankings when compared to previous product review updates.

May 2022 core update

May: 25

➤ Similar to previous core updates, Google made significant alterations to how its ranking systems evaluate content.

➤ This marked the inaugural broad core algorithm update of 2022 and the initial one in over half a year.

➤ Rollout completed: June 9 (15 days)

➤ Its impact appeared notably more pronounced and dynamic compared to the November 2021 core update.

March 2022 product reviews update

March: 23

➤ Created to assist Google in identifying and promoting high-quality product reviews for improved search rankings.

➤ Google’s product reviews update now prioritizes reviews with helpful details, expertise, unique information, and coverage of comparable products for improved quality and relevance.

➤ Google has issued new guidance on creating ranked lists, offering recommendations for “best” products, and crafting reviews for multiple

➤ products versus individual ones.

➤ Rollout completed: April 11 (19 days)

➤ The influence of the recent product reviews updates was not as extensive as observed in previous iterations.

Page experience update (desktop)

February: 22

➤ This update encompasses all signals from the mobile version of the Page Experience update, excluding the requirement for the page to be mobile-friendly.

➤ Rollout completed: March- 3 (9 days)

2021 Google Algorithm Updates

December 2021 product reviews update

December: 1

➤ Crafted to incentivize product evaluations that offer perceptive analysis and thorough, original research.

➤ Google has incorporated additional guidance for this update, emphasizing the importance of furnishing supplementary multimedia “evidence” and incorporating links to multiple sellers.

➤ Implementation commenced one day subsequent to the conclusion of the November 2021 core update.

➤ Rollout completed: December 21 (20 days)

➤ The latest update was more significant and exhibited greater volatility than the April 2021 product reviews update.

November 2021 local search update

November: 30

➤ Google has modified and rebalanced factors influencing local search results.

➤ Google did not officially acknowledge the occurrence of this update until December 16th.

➤ Simultaneous updates include product reviews, core updates, Google Maps changes, and local pack redesign.

➤ Rollout completed: December 8 (9 days).

November 2021 core update

November: 17

➤ Google reaffirmed its core updates guidance within the specified content length.

➤ Rollout completed: November 30 (13 days)

➤ The core update swiftly and significantly impacted the system.

November 2021 spam update

November: 3

➤ Google has recently unveiled an enhancement to its search spam detection systems.

➤ Adhere to Google’s recommended practices for search engine optimization by following the guidelines outlined in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

➤ Rollout completed: November 11 (8 days)

Link spam update

July: 26

➤ Google stated that the objective of this update is to neutralize the impact of spammy links present across various languages and throughout the web.

➤ Websites with spammy links were more prone to ranking fluctuations.

➤ Google recommends adhering to best practices for both inbound and outbound links.

➤ Rollout completed: August 24 (29 days)

July 2021 core update

July: 1

➤ This marked the second consecutive core update.

➤ The July 2021 core update, like standard core updates, was extensive, subtly altering the entire algorithm without targeting any particular function.

➤ Rollout completed: July 12 (12 days)

➤ This core update hit hard and fast.

Spam update (Part 2)

June: 28

➤ The much-anticipated follow-up to its Spam Update has arrived.

➤ Both components of the Spam Update were “global” in nature, with a focus on enhancing the quality of web and image results.

Spam update (Part 1)

June: 23

➤ Google recently rolled out a Spam Update to enhance their system, and they hinted at a second update scheduled for the upcoming week.

➤ No specific instructions or details were provided.

➤ Google mentioned its Webmaster Guidelines in the Twitter announcement.

Page experience update

June: 15

➤ This ranking algorithm was unveiled in May 2020.

➤ Google adopted Core Web Vitals, a new set of metrics, to gauge users’ perception of a webpage’s experience.

➤ Core Web Vitals consist of three key metrics: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) gauges loading performance; First Input Delay (FID) assesses interactivity; Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability.

➤ The Page Experience Update incorporates familiar ranking signals like page load speed, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, and non-intrusive ads.

➤ Rollout completed: September 2 (79 days)

Multitask Unified Model (MUM) update

June:

➤ Introduced at Google I/O in May 2021, Google’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM) employs a transformer architecture similar to BERT but boasts 1,000 times more power. It excels at multitasking, enabling innovative connections of information for users.

➤ In a matter of seconds, it enabled the search engine to recognize over 800 vaccine names in more than 50 languages, encompassing various variations.

➤ In September, Google announced more uses for MUM technology.

June 2021 Core Update

June: 2

➤ The initial core update was the first in a pair of consecutive updates. Google opted for separate releases due to some planned updates not being fully prepared.

➤ The June 2021 Google core update had a significant impact on many websites, similar to previous updates, with comprehensive and widespread changes.

➤ Rollout completed: June 15 (13 days)

➤ The update had a mixed impact, hitting various groups differently. Timing played a key role, affecting some more than others. Overall, reactions and outcomes were diverse.

April 2021 Product Reviews Update

April: 8

➤ The Product Reviews Update aims to boost the visibility of exceptional product reviews by prioritizing those with thorough research and insightful analysis in Google’s search results rankings.

➤ Google shared a set of nine questions aimed at ensuring your product reviews are insightful, feature original research, and are crafted by experts or enthusiasts well-versed in the subject matter.

Passage Ranking

February: 10

➤ Google has implemented a ranking change to better highlight specific passages on web pages in search results. The aim is to aid users in finding precise information within a page. This update is expected to impact 7% of search queries in all languages.

➤ As this update primarily focused on Google’s improved understanding of content, no specific guidance or recommendations were provided by Google regarding necessary changes or adjustments to your content.

2020 Google Algorithm Updates

December 2020 Core Update

December: 3

➤ The last major update of 2020, the 2020 Core Update, was also the first significant update since May of that year.

➤ The December 2020 core update, like other Google updates, had a broad impact on websites in various languages.

BERT Expands

October: 15

➤ Google revealed that BERT now fuels almost all English search queries, marking a significant increase from the previous year when it powered only 10%.

➤ You can’t optimize for BERT; it improves search results by understanding webpage content.

May 2020 Core Update

May: 4

➤ Google implemented a significant broad core algorithm update in May 2020 over a gradual rollout.

➤ This update was extensive and wide-ranging, similar to previous core updates, with no specific focus on any particular aspect of the algorithm.

January 2020 Core Update

January: 13

➤ A relatively weak core update.

➤ 2019 Google Algorithm Updates

BERT Natural Language Processing Update

October: 25

➤ Google introduced the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) update, affecting 10% of searches. BERT aims to enhance Google’s understanding of queries and webpage content, aligning more closely with human comprehension.

September 2019 Core Update

September: 24

➤ The September 2019 Core Update was a significant algorithm change by Google, part of its regular updates every few months.

June 2019 Core Update

June: 3

➤ The June 2019 core update aimed to enhance user experience across various aspects of Google’s algorithm.

March 2019 Core Update

March: 15

➤ The March 2019 Core Update caused a stir in the SEO community as it was released without a name, leading to speculation on Twitter about its purpose and the decision to forgo a typical designation.

➤ Google swiftly took to social media to clarify the confusion. In a concise tweet, they stated, “This update is officially named March 2019 Core Update.”

2018 Google Algorithm Updates

August 2018 Core Update (aka Medic Update)

August: 1

➤ The August 2018 core algorithm update by Google was a significant shake-up in the SEO landscape. It involved major adjustments that aimed to reward pages on the internet that were previously overlooked.

➤ Google attributed observed ranking drops to other previously under-rewarded sites making progress, stating that there was no specific fix for the decline.

➤ Improve your content for a chance to recover in rankings.

April 2018 Core Update

April: 20

➤ The April 2018 core update aimed to enhance user experience by providing more relevant search results.

➤ Google released an update without prior announcement, confirming it only after speculation about a possible core update.

March 2018 Core Update

March: 12

➤ The March and April 2018 Core Updates aimed to enhance Google’s search results through significant and widespread changes.

➤ The March 2018 Core Update had a notable impact on certain websites. Webmasters facing a decline in rankings were advised to focus on creating high-quality content rather than attempting to manipulate the system. Long-lasting ratings are achieved only through outstanding content.

January 2018 Core Update

January: 18

➤ The January 2018 Update targeted all aspects of the site’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Subsequent March and April core updates followed.

2017 Google Algorithm Updates

Mid-December Updates

December: 14-19

➤ Google has indeed implemented various minor updates aimed at enhancing search result relevance. However, these changes appear to have a detrimental impact on websites that heavily rely on targeting numerous keyword variations.

Local Update

August: 22

➤ This update rectified issues from the Possum update, which had unintentionally affected local rankings unfairly.

➤ The 2016 Possum Update aimed to enhance Search Engine Results Page (SERP) relevance by removing duplicate search results. In essence, certain local businesses were filtered out by Google due to their proximity to similar businesses already ranking on the SERPs.

➤ The Hawk Update refined the Possum update, increasing visibility for local businesses in competitive markets on the SERPs, making them more likely to appear in relevant search queries.

Fred Update

March: 09

➤ A potential Google ranking update appears to focus on enhancing the algorithm’s link quality aspects.

➤ The SEO community named this update “Fred” after Google’s Gary Illyes joked that all upcoming Google updates should be called “Fred.”

2016 Google Algorithm Updates

Penguin Update 4.0

September: 23

➤ Google recently released the final update to its Penguin algorithm after nearly a two-year hiatus.

➤ Google integrated Penguin into its core search algorithm, enabling real-time data refresh.

➤ Penguin now has a more detailed impact, affecting the ranking of specific pages, sections, or the entire website.

Possum Update (Sept. 1)

➤ The Possum Update altered Google’s filter system, particularly impacting local listings. In essence, it modified the way filters functioned in Google’s algorithm.

➤ Filters in the context of local results on Google refer to mechanisms that eliminate redundant websites. For local businesses, this means that if you have multiple websites for the same service, filters ensure that only one of them appears for a specific local search term.

➤ The Possum update aimed to enhance Google’s user experience but may have adversely affected certain businesses. Those in close proximity to higher-ranking competitors experienced significant drops in their SERP positions.

Mobile-Friendly Update 2 (April 21)

➤ This update builds on the 2015 Mobile-Friendly Update, providing a real-time, page-specific signal that specifically influences mobile search rankings.

➤ This update aimed to “boost the impact of the mobile-friendly ranking signal.”

January 2016 Core Update (Jan. 17)

➤ Significant search result fluctuations were noted.

➤ Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed a core ranking algorithm update.

January 2016 Core Update (Jan. 10)

➤ Google confirmed on January 12 that the weekend’s ranking fluctuations were a result of a core ranking algorithm update.

2015 Google Algorithm Updates

RankBrain (Oct. 25)

➤ The RankBrain algorithm utilizes machine learning to analyze user search queries and evaluate billions of webpages, ultimately ranking the most relevant ones at the top of search results.

➤ Initially applied to a “significant portion” of search results, it was subsequently extended and implemented across all Google searches.

Panda Update 4.2 (July 18)

➤ This was a refresh of the existing Panda algorithm.

➤ It impacted about 2% to 3% of English language queries.

Quality Update (May)

➤ Mobile-Friendly Update (April 21)

2014 Google Algorithm Updates

Pigeon Expansion (Dec. 22)
Penguin Everflux (Dec. 10)
Penguin Update 3.1 (Nov. 27)
Pirate Update 2 (Oct. 21)
Penguin Update 3.0 (Oct. 17)
Panda Update 4.1 (Sept. 25)

➤ Google’s Panda update aimed for greater precision, benefiting more high-quality small and medium-sized sites.

➤ It affected 3-5% of English queries.

Pigeon Update (July 24)

➤ Created for enhanced local search results closely aligned with traditional web search ranking signals to deliver more useful and accurate information.

➤ Google announced an algorithm upgrade enhancing distance and location ranking factors.

Payday Loan Update 3.0 (June 12)

Panda Update 4.0 (May 20)

➤ Panda’s 27th update aimed for a more gentle impact on certain websites, setting the stage for future user experience improvements.

➤ It affected 7.5% of English queries.

Payday Loan Update 2.0 (May 16)
Page Layout 3 (aka Top Heavy 3) (Feb. 6)

2013 Google Algorithm Updates

Penguin Update 2.1 (Oct. 4)
Hummingbird (Sept. 26)
Panda Update 26 (July 18)

➤ Panda’s precision was enhanced with the integration of new signals.

Multi-week Update (June 21)
Payday Loan Update (June 11)
Penguin Update 2.0 (May 22)
Panda Update 25 (March 14)

➤ On March 11 at SMX, Google’s Matt Cutts announced an upcoming Panda update. It appeared to be implemented as scheduled, but Google never officially acknowledged the rollout.

Panda Update 24 (Jan. 22)

➤ The Panda update affected 1.2% of English search queries.

2012 Google Algorithm Updates

Panda Update 23 (Dec. 21)

➤ This Panda update affected 1.3% of English search queries.

Panda Update 22 (Nov. 21)
Panda Update 21 (Nov. 5)
Page Layout Algorithm 2 (aka Top Heavy 2) (Oct. 9)
Penguin Update 3 (Oct. 5)
Panda Update 20 (Sept. 27)
Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update (Sept. 27)

➤ Google implemented an algorithm update to curb the ranking boost of low-quality websites solely relying on keyword-matching domain names.

Panda Update 3.9.2 (Sept. 18)
Panda Update 3.9.1 (Aug. 20)
Pirate Update (Aug. 10)

➤ Update lowered rankings for sites with excessive DMCA takedown requests.

➤ It wasn’t until 2022 that we discovered Pirate could lead to an average 89% decline in search traffic.

Panda Update 3.9 (July 24)
Panda Update 3.8 (June 25)
Panda Update 3.7 (June 8)
Penguin Update 2 (May 25)
Panda Update 3.6 (April 27)
Penguin Update (April 24)

➤ The update aimed to lower the rankings of websites that Google deemed in violation of its quality guidelines.

➤ Specifically, websites purchasing links or acquiring them through networks intended mainly for enhancing Google rankings.

Panda Update 3.5 (April 19)
Panda Update 3.4 (March 23)
Venice (Feb. 27)
Panda Update 3.3 (Feb. 27)
Page Layout Algorithm (aka Top Heavy) (Jan. 19)

➤ This aimed to hinder websites excessively laden with ads from achieving high rankings in Google’s search results.

➤ Top Heavy is regularly refreshed.

➤ Top Heavy Update: Sites with reduced ads may reclaim lost rankings after the latest update.

➤ Fresh websites labeled as excessively “top-heavy” might face scrutiny.

Panda Update 3.2 (Jan. 18)

2011 Google Algorithm Updates

Panda Update 3.1 (Nov. 18)
Freshness Update (Nov. 3)
Panda Update 3.0 (Oct. 19)
Panda Update 2.5 (Sept. 28)
Panda Update 2.4 (Aug. 12)
Panda Update 2.3 (July 23)
Panda Update 2.2 (June 21)
Panda Update 2.1 (May 9)
Panda Update 2.0 (April 11)
Panda Update (Feb. 23)
Scraper filter

2010 Google Algorithm Updates

Merchant Reviews (December)
Brand Update (August)
Caffeine (June)
May Day (May)

2009 Google Algorithm Updates

Vince Update
Feb. 20

➤ In February, SEO experts and website managers observed a notable increase in search result visibility for major brands.

➤ On March 5, Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed a “minor change,” indicating that the search engine’s ranking algorithm might now consider trust, quality, PageRank, and other metrics for broader queries.

➤ Cutts mentioned that it had no effect on longer, more specific search queries.

➤ A Googler named Vince initiated this modification, hence the update’s namesake.

2008 Google Algorithm Updates

Dewey Update (March 31)

➤ Significant shifts in search rankings were widely observed in late March and early April.

➤ Google’s Matt Cutts requested feedback from webmasters regarding the changes through a form, asking them to incorporate the word “dewey” in their responses. This update became known by this distinctive name.

2007 Google Algorithm Updates

PageRank Update (Oct. 7)

➤ Google has officially acknowledged reducing PageRank scores for websites engaged in selling links.

➤ Google also mentioned that certain websites might face removal from its search results or receive penalties affecting their ranking.

➤ Google’s PageRank update on Oct. 24 targeted paid links, impacting numerous sites.

2005 Google Algorithm Updates

Big Daddy

December

Jagger

October

Bourbon

May

2004 Google Algorithm Updates

Austin

January: 23

➤ Building upon Google’s Florida project, the focus is on enhancing search result relevance for an improved user experience.

➤ This update affected websites employing on-page SEO strategies that were once effective but are now deemed spammy and outdated.

2003 Google Algorithm Updates

Florida Update

November: 15

➤ Florida, the first major Google algorithm update, led to a significant outcry due to its impact on search results.

➤ Google aimed to increase the difficulty for websites to achieve high rankings through deceptive SEO tactics.

➤ Regrettably, this update led to the closure of numerous websites, including some inaccurately flagged ones, just before the profitable holiday season.

➤ After this update, Google pledged to refrain from implementing significant changes during the holiday season—a commitment that held true until 2011.

Fritz

July

➤ Google transitioned from a monthly algorithmic update known as the “Google Dance” to more frequent indexing, occurring daily or even more frequently. This shift replaced the previous pattern where rankings would collectively fluctuate over a period of six to eight days during the monthly update.

➤ From here on, Google implemented frequent (usually subtle) daily updates, referred to as “everflux.”

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