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Google Algorithm Updates & Changes: A Complete History

December 12, 2017

Maccabees Update

September 8, 2017

Fall Flux

Industry chatter and SEO tracking tools indicated some sort of (still unconfirmed) Google update may have occurred on this date. Glenn Gabe, president of G-Squared Interactive, also detected several noteworthy Google changes impacting traffic and search visibility starting September 8. This was followed by additional volatility and fluctuations on September 18, 25, and 29, as well as October 4, 8, and 12.

Read: Exploring The Wild Google Algorithm Updates and Volatility In The Fall of 2017 (Glenn Gabe)

August 19, 2017

Quality Update

July 9, 2017

Quality Update

June 25, 2017

June 25 Update

May 17, 2017

Quality Update

February 7, 2017

February 7 Update

February 1, 2017

February 1 Update

January 10, 2017

Intrusive Interstitials Update

September 23, 2016

Penguin Update 4.0 & Core Algorithm Integration

June 1, 2016

Quality Update

May 12, 2016

Mobile-Friendly Update (#2)

January 11, 2016

Panda Core Algorithm Incorporation

Google confirmed that Panda had been incorporated into the core Google algorithm, evidently as part of the slow Panda 4.2 rollout. In other words, Panda was no longer a filter applied to the Google algorithm after it does its work, but is incorporated as another of its core ranking signals. It has been clarified, however, that this doesn’t mean the Panda classifier acts in real time.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

Read: Google’s Panda Now Part of Its Core Ranking Algorithm

October 26, 2015


Though it had been in testing since April 2015, Google officially introduced RankBrain on this date. RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm that filters search results to help give users a best answer to their query. Initially, RankBrain was used for about 15 percent of queries (mainly new queries Google had never seen before), but now it is involved in almost every query entered into Google. RankBrain has been called the third most important ranking signal.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google RankBrain Algorithm

July 17, 2015

Panda Update 4.2 (#28)

Google announced a Panda refresh that would take months to roll out and impact 2 to 3 percent of English queries. Due to the slow nature of the rollout, it’s unclear how substantial the impact was or precisely when it occurred. It was the final confirmed Panda update.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

May 3, 2015

Quality Update

April 21, 2015

Mobile-Friendly Update

October 17, 2014

Penguin Update 3.0

Though named like a major update, this was actually another data refresh of Google’s Penguin algorithm. Penguin 3.0 allowed those impacted by previous updates to emerge and recover, while many others who had continued to utilize spammy link practices, and had escaped the radar of the previous updates, saw an impact. The update took about three days to fully rollout and impacted less than 1 percent of English search queries.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Penguin Algorithm Update

September 23, 2014

Panda Update 4.1 (#27)

July 24, 2014

Pigeon Update

June 12, 2014

Payday Loan Update 3.0

May 20, 2014

Panda Update 4.0 (#26)

May 16, 2014

Payday Loan Update 2.0

February 6, 2014

Page Layout Refresh

October 4, 2013

Penguin Update 2.1

September 26, 2013

Hummingbird Update

The Hummingbird update was a major overhaul to Google’s core search technology. Google needed a way to better understand and return the most relevant results to more complex queries as a result of the growth of conversational search (i.e., voice search). Google said the new algorithm affected about 90 percent of searches worldwide. Although this update was announced on this date, it actually started rolling out in August 2013.

Read: How the Google Hummingbird Update Changed Search

June 11, 2013

Payday Loan Update

Google Payday Loans algorithm update targeted spammy queries mostly associated with shady industries (including super high interest loans and payday loans, porn, casinos, debt consolidation, and pharmaceuticals). It took about 1-2 months to fully rollout and impacted about 0.3 percent of U.S. queries.

Read: What You Need to Know About the Google Payday Loan Algorithm Update

May 22, 2013

Penguin Update 2.0

March 14, 2013

Panda Update (#25)

This update was not confirmed by Google though tools suggest it occurred on roughly this day.  Google’s Matt Cutts seemed to suggest that this would be the final update before Panda would be incorporated directly into the core Google algorithm. Instead, however, Panda data refreshes started rolling out monthly over a 10-day period, without any further confirmation from Google.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

January 22, 2013

Panda Update (#24)

December 21, 2012

Panda Update (#23)

November 21, 2012

Panda Update (#22)

November 5, 2012

Panda Update (#21)

October 9, 2012

Page Layout Update #2

October 5, 2012

Penguin Update 1.2

September 28, 2012

Exact Match Domain Update

September 27, 2012

Panda Update (#20)

September 18, 2012

Panda Update 3.9.2 (#19)

August 20, 2012

Panda Update 3.9.1 (#18)

July 24, 2012

Panda Update 3.9 (#17)

June 25, 2012

Panda Update 3.8 (#16)

June 8, 2012

Panda update 3.7 (#15)

Google confirmed a refresh of the Panda algorithm started rolling out on this date, impacting less than 1 percent of U.S. queries and ~1 percent of worldwide queries. Ranking tools suggested it was bigger than more recent Panda updates.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

April 27, 2012

Panda Update 3.6 (#14)

April 24, 2012

Penguin Update

A long-anticipated “over-optimization” penalty finally arrived on this day. Google announced the launch of a (then unnamed) algorithm change meant to downrank websites engaging in aggressive webspam (e.g., keyword stuffing, unnatural linking) that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Google said this update would impact 3.1 percent of English queries. Just two days later, we learned the name of the algorithm: Penguin.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Penguin Algorithm Update

Read: Another step to reward high-quality sites (Google)

April 19, 2012

Panda Update 3.5 (#13)

March 26, 2012

Penguin Update 1.1

March 23, 2012

Panda Update 3.4 (#12)

February 27, 2012

Panda Update 3.3 (#11)

February 27, 2012

Venice Update

After the Venice Update, Google began including search results based either on the searcher’s physical location or IP address. Also, Google could better detect whether a query or webpage had local intent or relevance.

Read: How the Google Venice Update Changed Local Search & SEO

January 19, 2012

Page Layout Update

Google’s page layout algorithm update (or Above the Fold) targeted websites with too many ads above the fold. In other words, a user would have to scroll down the page to see any actual content. Google said this algorithm impacted less than 1 percent of websites.

Read: Google Page Layout Algorithm: Everything You Need to Know

January 18, 2012

Panda Update 3.2 (#10)

November 18, 2011

Panda Update 3.1 (#9)

November 3, 2011

Freshness Update

With this update, Google altered its ranking algorithm to better determine when to deliver search results that are fresher (e.g., current events, hot topics, recurring events) to be more relevant to searchers. This update impacted 35 percent of searches.

Read: Google Freshness Algorithm: Everything You Need to Know

October 19, 2011

Panda Update 3.0 (#8)

September 28, 2011

Panda Update 2.5 (#7)

Another iteration of the Google Panda algorithm. Then, on October 5, 2011, Google’s Matt Cutts announced to “expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks.” Confirmed flux dates were October 3 and October 13.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

August 12, 2011

Panda Update 2.4 (#6)

Google’s Panda algorithm update was rolled out internationally for all English-speaking countries and non-English speaking countries (except for Japan, China, and Korea).

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

July 23, 2011

Panda Update 2.3 (#5)

June 21, 2011

Panda Update 2.2 (#4)

May 9, 2011

Panda Update 2.1 (#3)

April 11, 2011

Panda Update 2.0 (#2)

February 23, 2011

Panda Update

The first iteration of a then unnamed Google algorithm update was introduced (12 percent of queries were impacted), shocking the SEO industry and many big players, as well as effectively ending the “content farm” business model as it existed at the time. Initially dubbed Farmer within the industry, Google revealed soon after launch that the update’s was called Panda, named after the engineer who came up with the primary algorithm breakthrough.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

Read: Google’s Algorithm Change: The Losers and Winners

August 10, 2009

Caffeine Update

Google’s Caffeine update was a new web indexing system that allowed Google to crawl and store data more efficiently, resulting in 50 percent fresher results. Developers were given early access starting in August 2009 before the update officially rolled out June 8, 2010.

Read: Google’s Caffeine Update: Better Indexing & Fresher Search Results

January 18, 2009

Vince Update

Google’s Vince update was a quick, noticeable change in broad-level, competitive keyword terms to favor first page rankings for big brand domains vs. previously ranking sites (typically less authoritative sites, affiliate sites, and sites that had won this coveted visibility purely through SEO efforts).

Read: Google’s Vince Update: The Day Big Brands Won

December 15, 2005

Big Daddy Update

Big Daddy (or Bigdaddy) was a gradual update to Google’s infrastructure that began rolling out in December 2005 and was completed in March 2006. This update changed how Google handled technical issues such as URL canonicalization and redirects. Some websites didn’t make it into the new Big Daddy data centers, typically due to unnatural linking (e.g., excessive reciprocal linking, linking to spammy neighborhoods, paid links).

Read: Google’s Big Daddy Update: Big Changes to Google’s Infrastructure & the SERPs

September 1, 2005

Jagger Update

Jagger was an update in three phases (Jagger 1, Jagger 2, and Jagger 3) that began with a number of backlink-focused updates in early September meant to crack down on unnatural link building, paid links, and other types of spam. The second phase of Jagger had the most noticable impact in October. The final phase was completed near the end of November.

Read: Google’s Jagger Update Rocks Manipulative Link Building

November 16, 2003

Florida Update

Google’s Florida Update signaled a new era of SEO. Websites (including retailers who relied on affiliates to drive traffic) using spammy tactics of the previous decade (e.g., keyword stuffing, using multiple sites under the same brand, invisible text, and hidden links) to rank for high-commercial keywords saw their rankings wiped out right before the lucrative holiday season.

Read: Google Florida: The First Major Algorithm Update