Google Algorithm Update & History of Updates

Google Algorithm Update & History of Updates

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Keeping on top of the latest updates from Google is imperative for any successful SEO campaign. If you fail in responding to changes to the Google search algorithm, your website could plummet down the search engine results pages (SERP). If you learn about the latest updates and incorporate the best SEO practices, however, there’s a real possibility to land on the first page of Google.

Staying up-to-date with the latest tweaks is important. It’s also vital you receive an education about former SEO algorithm changes. By doing this, you can best strategize your entire digital marketing plan. As a result, we have prepared an ultimate guide to Google penalties and updates. With the following information, you can gain a stronger understanding of how Google works and the type of content they expect to see from websites.
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2020 Updates

Google Core Update for May 2020 Is Announced (May 4)

So what significant changes were made with this latest Google update? Well this May 2020 Google core algorithm update added extra importance on diversity, with a stronger focus on quality content as opposed to a site’s search authority. The result: smaller outlets have a greater chance of hitting the first page in relevant, recent Google searches.

More info: Google Core May 2020 Update Analysis

Featured Snippet Deduplication is Unveiled by Google (January 22)

This Google algorithm update changed up how Featured Snippets functioned. Instead of a URL appearing as a traditional organic search result and Featured Snippet, Google removed the organic result aspect.

More info: Featured Snippet Deduplication – How This Change by Google Affects Publishers

Google Core Update for January 2020 Is Announced (January 13)

2020’s latest Google algorithm update introduced a wide variety of changes. Because of its broad modifications, the update had a significant impact on search engine results. Certain websites experienced a notable drop in traffic, while others benefited from immediate visitor gains.

More info: The First Google Update Core for 2020

2019 Updates

Google Rolls Out the “BERT” Algorithm Update (October 24)

Self-described by the search engine giant as its most significant update in five years, the Google update is known as “BERT” made it easier for them to decipher complex, conversational search queries. This search engine algorithm update reportedly impacted 10% of queries in total.

More info: What Does the Google BERT Update Mean?

The Google Core Update for September 2019 Is Released (September 24)

September’s Google algorithm update 2019 introduced a range of changes. Despite the previous March and June core updates focusing on the E-A-T criteria, this September update flipped the script. For those that were negatively impacted by the update, Google stated the following four factors required greater focus:

  • Expertize
  • Content and quality
  • Competitive
  • comparison
  • Presentation and production

More info: All You Need to Know About the Recent Google Search Algorithm Update

Comprehensive Core Algorithm Update Is Announced (June 2)

The June update had a notable difference to most others: it was pre-announced by Google. This gave online marketers a heads up so they could best prepare for the upcoming changes. The upload spotlighted Google’s strong direction towards search intent, something which caused ranking volatility for numerous niches.

More info: June 2019 Core Update: The Significant Google Algorithm Changes

Broad Google Core Update Is Released (March 13)

When analyzing site traffic following this March 2019 update, it demonstrated that any Google algorithm changes were independent of the former “Medic” update. In essence, the update added emphasis on rewarding sites which offer a high-quality user experience.

More info: Learning about the Google New Update for March

2018 Updates

Google’s Broad Core “Medic” Algorithm Is Rolled Out (August 1)

This Google SERP update didn’t target any general factors. Yet it did have a notable impact on an assortment of websites within the health and medical sector – which explains the update’s “Medic” name.

More info: How Google’s Medic Update Has Affected Health and Medical Sites

Algorithm Quality Update (May)

At some point in mid-May, Google commenced with continual tweaks to its search algorithm. Websites with pages that had duplicated or thin content were punished. This Google Algo update also dropped the ranking authority of sites with ad-heavy content, slow loading times, and high bounce rates.

Google Unveils Quality Update for Core Algorithm (April 16)

Following this update, the Google penalties guide added an extra element to proceedings. That element was a larger focus on quality. Pages with detailed, high-quality content were bumped up the search rankings. Conversely, sites with thin content were penalized.

More info: Google Confirms Its April Algorithm Update

The Core Algorithm Is Changed (March)

Following this update, the Google penalties guide added an extra element to proceedings. That element was a larger focus on quality. Pages with detailed, high-quality content were bumped up the search rankings. Conversely, sites with thin content were penalized.

More info: Google Confirms Its April Algorithm Update

2017 Updates

The “Maccabees” Update by Google (December 14)

The “Maccabees” update didn’t receive a formal announcement once it released – Google only went as far to confirm several minor updates took place during the middle of December. In the history of algorithm alterations, “Maccabees” received a hefty amount of criticism. This is because numerous prominent digital marketer’s websites and e-commerce platforms suffered a major rankings hit, all during the Christmas season.

More info: Google Confirms Updates to Algorithm

Google Fred Is Released (March)

There was one main goal with the Google Fred update: to punish low-value content websites which concentrate on revenue, as opposed to the user experience. For those wondering about a guide to Google penalties, it was reported Google Fred led to certain sites suffering from a 90% drop in visitor traffic.

More info: How Google Fred Targeted Low-Value Content Sites

Google Does a Spot of Housekeeping (February)

During early February, Google launched two major updates within a week. These received no official announcements and remained unnamed, so marketing experts debated how the search Google algorithm for SEO altered this time. Some felt it supported the algorithm in better discounting spam and links.

More info: How the Google New Algorithm Change Might Have Impacted SEO

Google Incorporates the Popup Penalty (January 10)

To begin 2017, Google incorporated the intrusive interstitial penalty – aka the popup penalty. As the name suggests, this update penalized websites which made use of intrusive popups.

More info: The Intrusive Interstitial Penalty Is Here

2016 Updates

Google Penguin 4.0 Is Released (September 23)

Numerous important updates came attached to Google Penguin 4.0. As a starting point, Penguin became an element of the core Google algorithm, which meant it began updating in real-time. In addition, the update caused search rankings to be more page-specific instead of affecting an entire website.

More info: Penguin 4.0: Official Announcement

Google Changes It Up (September)

At the beginning of September, SERP went through high fluctuations – according to SEO tools used to measure such stats. This was especially the situation for local search results. There was one issue with the update: experts couldn’t source substantial data about what Google changed. This was further compounded when another round of updates happened in the middle of September.

More info: Are Major Google Search Changes Happening?

Enhancing Mobile-Friendly Websites (May 12)

For website owners that have a strong focus on mobile users, this update was the one for them. If a site boasted a mobile-friendly design, it received a small rankings boost for mobile-based search results.

More info: Google’s Steps to Making Websites More Mobile-Friendly

Refining AdWords (February 23)

As well as adding a fourth ad to AdWords’ traditional top block, this update also eliminated sidebar ads from search results.

More info: The Recent Changes to Google AdWords

Google’s “Ghost” Update (January 8)

Around the start of January, SERP fluctuations were reported by many SEO tools. Google didn’t supply an official report about any search changes, and this led to experts speculating if it was the latest Penguin update. Google quickly denied this, and the search kingpin later noted it was simply a core algorithm update. Research suggests the “Ghost” update didn’t cause any significant losses.

More info: Google Admits They Performed a Core Update

2015 Updates

Google Introduces “RankBrain” (October 26)

At the end of October, the “RankBrain” algorithm change was announced by Google. In essence, this update incorporated Artificial Intelligence learning into its search process. This refinement to its algorithm may have been revealed in October, but Google launched it in secret months beforehand. No significant variations were caused by “RankBrain” to ranking factors.

More info: Google Reveals AI Technology for Web Search

The Zombie Update (October)

While not an official update from Google, webmasters spotted noteworthy search fluctuations during the middle of October.

More info: What’s the Google Zombie Update?

The “Snack Pack” Is Introduced (August)

Even though it didn’t directly affect the search algorithm, the local search world experienced a significant change with the “Snack Pack”. Rather than remaining with the regular 7-pack, Google felt it was best to cut this down to a 3-pack. Someone needs to go back to the Pigeon local algorithm launch for a bigger local SEO change by Google.

More info: The Snack Pack Shake-Up by Google

The Reveal of Panda 4.2 (July 17)

Google’s July 17 announcement revealed Panda would be upgraded to 4.2. Not much happened on the day of the announcement, however. The reason: any changes introduced by Panda 4.2 would take months to have any impact.

More info: What Do We Know About Panda 4.2?

Google’s Quality Update (May 3)

Known in marketing circles as the “Phantom 2”, this update wasn’t initially confirmed by Google. It only became public knowledge once already in effect. As for the quality changes this update introduced, little happened – it was only a “quality signals” update.

More info: Google Quality Update

The “Mobilegeddon” Update (April 22)

As the name hints at, the “Mobilegeddon” update changed Google’s search algorithm to focus more on mobile devices. Along with giving mobile-friendly websites a boost, it demoted any sites which were not optimized for all device screen sizes.

With the name “Mobilegeddon”, many felt this update was going to rock the SEO world massively. In reality, however, the impact was relatively minor than initially expecting.

More info: Starter Guide to “Mobilegeddon.”

Unnamed Google Update (February 4)

At the beginning of February, SERP tracking tools spotted a considerable amount of change to search results. These changes were not all that important according to Google, and this may explain why this update never received an official announcement.

More information: Google Has Tweaked Their Search Algorithm Again


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