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  • Writer's pictureshlok mishra

Google Algorithm: Everything an SEO needs to know

What is a Google Algorithm?

introduction to google algorithm

Before jumping ring into understanding the algorithmic records let's first understand what are Google Algorithms. They are a logical system primarily designed to fetch data from its search index data directory and deliver in real-time the most relevant possible results for a searcher's query. Google's search engine integrates algorithms and various ranking factors to display web pages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages popularly known as SERP's.


History of Google Algorithm Updates

Google's algorithms are a composite scheme used to recover data of its search index plus immediately pass the most reliable outcomes for a query. The search engine practices algorithms and diverse ranking factors to display web pages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

seo search engine optimization ranking on serps

In its initial years, Google only made a few updates to its algorithms. Now, Google advances thousands of developments each year. Most of the updates are so fine that they go unnoticed. Nevertheless, at times, the search engine rolls out significant algorithmic updates that significantly influence the SERPs, such as:

  1. Fred

  2. Intrusive Interstitials Update

  3. Mobilegeddon

  4. RankBrain

  5. Panda

  6. Penguin

  7. Hummingbird

  8. Pigeon

  9. Payday

  10. EMD (Exact Match Domain)

  11. Page Layout Algorithm

Have a look at the Google algorithm launches, updates, and refreshes that have rolled out across the years and links to resources for SEO specialists who aspire to learn each of these changes in detail.


Google Algorithm Updates & Changes: A Complete Record

June 2, 2021

Broad Core Algorithm Update:

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan declared via Twitter that a broad core algorithm update was released. Sullivan also wrote that some proposed developments weren't available for this update, so the parts that weren't available will be rolled out in the second phase, related broad core algorithm update scheduled for July.


Product Reviews Update:

This further search ranking algorithm update was to reward "product reviews that share extensive research, rather than light content that completely reviews a batch of products." In their announcement, Google also shared nine essential questions to contemplate when writing and publishing product reviews.


February 10, 2021

Passage Ranking:

Google's Public Liaison for Search, Danny Sullivan, declared that Passage Ranking was formally launched for English-language queries in the United States. According to Google: "This shift doesn't imply we're indexing specific sections independently of pages. We're still indexing pages and analyzing info about entire pages for ranking. But now we can also examine passages from pages as an additional ranking factor…."


December 3, 2020

December 2020 Core Update:

Google validates a core algorithm update, the December 2020 Core Update, which rolled out on December 3, 2020. Last core algorithm update of 2020. A fair amount of time has advanced since the latest core update, contrasted to the average time connecting these updates.


May 4, 2020

May 2020 Core Update:

Google's Search Liaison Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter that Google would announce a broad core algorithm update. Approximately 90 minutes later, he described the update as underway and would take one to two weeks to roll out entirely.


January 22, 2020

Featured Snippet Deduplication:

Google's Danny Sullivan authenticated via Twitter that web pages in a featured snippet position won't reoccur on regular first-page organic listing on SERP's. This change affected 100 per cent of all search listings globally.


January 13, 2020

January 2020 Core Update:

Google's Danny Sullivan brought into light via his tweet that the broad core algorithm update will be releasing. Google again equipped people with a similar direction as for all other recent comprehensive core algorithm updates.


December 9, 2019

BERT- Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers:

Google's Danny Sullivan tweeted about BERT's global rollout that is soon going to commence. It comprises of following list of languages: English, Farsi, French, Swedish, Finnish, Gujarati, Galician, Georgian, Greek, German, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Italian, Vietnamese, Arabic, Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Azeri, Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Basque, Uzbek, Czech, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, Danish, Estonian, Icelandic, Latvian, Macedonian Malay, Malayalam, Norwegian, Polish, Punjabi, Nepali, Romanian, Marathi, Maltese, Mongolian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Hindi.


October 25, 2019

BERT Update:

Google announced the BERT Updates, the most significant change to Google search in the past five years. Google uses BERT models to understand search queries better. Google declared that the difference due to BERT impacted both search rankings along with the featured snippets. Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers will initially target 10 per cent of the searches from the united states in the English language.


September 24, 2019

Broad Google's Core Algorithm Update:

Google's Danny Sullivan declared via a tweet that google's broad core algorithm update would release in few hours, which would take at least a week to roll out completely. It provided similar guidance as for all other recent core algorithm updates.


June 2, 2019

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan tweeted, hinting Google could release a new update for broad core algorithm in June 2019. Hours later, Google confirmed the latest update and rolled it out to its various data centres in the coming weeks. It was the same as that with any broad core algorithm update. Google suggested nothing particular to fix it because of the core update that embraces many factors.


March 12, 2019

Google's Core Update March 2019:

Google's Search Liaison Danny Sullivan again validated via Twitter the release of a global broad core algorithm update. We confirmed this update is vital and one of the most thorough Google's Update of the decade. Sullivan recommended the direction it provided following the March 9, 2018 update.


February 13, 2019

Search Engine Valentine's Day Update:

Algorithm trackers and industry chatter inferred some variety of unconfirmed update took place on and before this date. Nevertheless, unlike other updates, fundamentally positive changes in rankings were being described.


October 31, 2018

Unconfirmed by Google Halloween Update 2018:

Some webmasters identified mutations starting during Halloween season, maybe directing an (unconfirmed) algorithmic update. But there was little evidence of a solid update. The reason for this was spillover from the August broad core algorithm update, including Google ramping up its performance of neural matching.


September 27, 2018

A "Small" Update:

On September 27, huge spikes and drops in website traffic were reported worldwide but mainly from America, the U.K., and India. This abnormal search engine behaviour aroused the idea that indicated some update. Most of the sites impacted by this recovered in weeks. This change was again later confirmed by Google's Search Liaison Danny Sullivan via his Twitter handle on September 29, 2018.


August 1, 2018

Google Broad Core Algorithm Update 2018:

Google reinforced via their official Twitter handle for the third time in twelve months suggesting ideas for update rollout. In this process, Google's Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed that the March 9, 2018 update.


April 16, 2018

Broad Core Algorithm Update:

Google reinforced via their official Twitter handle, stating the release of another broad core algorithm update. The tweet indicated similarities between the March 9, 2018 update, which was about content relevance.


March 9, 2018

Broad Core Algorithm Update:

Google confirmed via their Twitter handle about a "broad core algorithm update" rolled out the prior week. It indicated the changes meant to "benefit pages that were earlier under-rewarded" and urged everyone to "continue developing great content."


December 12, 2017

Maccabees Update:

The reports suggested that some websites got hammered by a google algorithm update from December 12 2017, to December 14 2017. Google strengthened several minor changes to the core algorithm during the timeframe but downplayed the significance of the period of flux.


September 8, 2017

2017 Fall Flux Update:

Many SEO tracking tools hinted at some Google update which are still unconfirmed and might have resulted on September 18 2017. Fall Flux, supported by additional buoyancy and fluctuations from September 18, 2017, to October 12, 2017.


August 19, 2017

Web admins and SEO ranking tools and software discovered minor resilience on August 19 2017, and August 20 2017, with points directing that this could have been another Google quality update. However, this has not been confirmed or posted by the company or officials on any of their handles. The changes noticed were under category pages, pages with aggressive advertising and thin content, including numerous harmful user experience elements.


July 9, 2017

Quality Update:

Many SEO ranking tools identified little volatility on July 9, potentially another (unconfirmed) Google quality update.


June 25, 2017

June 25 Update:

Several SEO tools discovered a noticeable, though unconfirmed, algorithm shift in July 2015. Some analysis also found that this update caused the most considerable fluctuations for pages ranking in Positions 6-10. While it impacted most niches majorly, it was on the goods and beverage industry worldwide.


May 17, 2017

Google Quality Update Algorithm:

Commencing May 17, which lasted for about a week or two, Agan many SEO tools reported thousands of SERP volatility. The impact seems limited, but the sites impacted by this update tended to have aggressive advertising, UI/UX issues, and low-quality content on multiple web pages that ultimately dropped their visibility and ranking.


March 7, 2017


Google's Gary Illyes jokingly proposed this update as "Fred", the name ended up to be an official one ultimately in the SEO community. FRED algorithm was a severe shift to those impacted. This algorithm shift seemed to target low-quality content majorly. Specifically, it observed if the content was updated and fresh. However, Google has refused to share any specifics regarding the update; instead, it decides to announce that all the explanations are on Google's Webmaster Quality Guidelines.


February 7, 2017

February 7 Update:

This major unconfirmed update resulted in massive rankings shifts in Google's SERPs, which also meant significant spikes or drops for some websites. All in all, it seems higher-quality with relevant content on it gained the most visibility.


February 1, 2017

February 1 Update:

On February 1, 2017, an unconfirmed algorithm update was identified and brought to light February 1 2017. Although most of the information about this shift is more speculation than reality, It is speculated that the update targeted private blog networks and websites performing spammy link building activity.


January 10, 2017

Intrusive Interstitials Update:

On August 23, 2016, Google announced this change which targeted intrusive interstitials and pop-ups that hurt the user experience, particularly on tablets and smartphones. As declared, this update rolled out on January 10, 2017. The impact of this algorithm shift was insignificant.


November 10, 2016

Unnamed Update:

The buzz in the Search Engine Optimization industry and data from SEO tracking tools showed that Google issued an unconfirmed algorithm update on November 10.


September 23, 2016

Google's Penguin Update 4.0 worldwide & Core Algorithm Integration 2016:

The ultimate update to the Penguin algorithm series was witnessed in 2016 and was blended into Google's core algorithm list, indicating Penguin was now assessing websites and links in real-time. Another notable shift was Penguin depreciated links rather than downgrading the rankings of pages.


June 1, 2016

The Quality score Update:

However, this update is unconfirmed to date by Google. The data suggests another content-related Update to Google's algorithm that could roll out around June 1, with additional search ranking volatility.


May 12, 2016

Mobile-Friendly Update - Mobilegeddon 2:

The second Mobile-Friendly Update popularly identified by the name "Mobilegeddon 2" renewed Google's original mobile-friendly update, which was supposed to "enhances the impact of the ranking signal."


January 11, 2016

Google's Panda Core Algorithm Incorporation update:

Google verified that Panda had been incorporated into the core Google algorithm, evidently as part of the slow Panda 4.2 rollout. This update suggests Panda was no longer a filter connected to the Google algorithm after its work, but it includes another of its core ranking signals. It has clear, however, that this doesn't mean the Panda classifier acts in real-time.


October 26, 2015


RankBrain Update had been in testing since April 2015, and Google formally launched RankBrain on this date. The update is a machine-learning algorithm that filters SERP's results to assist searchers with the best resolution to their question. Originally, RankBrain was for about 15 per cent of questions (mainly new queries Google had never seen before), but presently it is included in nearly every question entered into Google. RankBrain has been called the third various significant ranking signal.


July 17, 2015

Panda Update 4.2:

Google declared a Panda refresh that would take moons to roll out and strike 2 to 3 per cent of English queries. Due to the delayed nature of the rollout, it's unclear how significant the impact was or accurately when it transpired. It was the ultimately approved Panda update.


May 3, 2015

Quality Update:

The Quality Update, commonly known as the Phantom Update, was a structural change to Google's core ranking algorithm, mainly how Google assesses quality signals. Websites with content essence issues and too many ads seemed to be influenced the most by this update.


April 21, 2015

Mobile-Friendly Update:

Mobile-Friendly update, popularly known as "Mobilegeddon", was an update anticipated to compensate mobile-friendly websites with more prominent search rankings and bestow more favourable results to searchers on mobile devices. This update improved all languages globally.


October 17, 2014

Penguin Update 3.0:

Though named as a major update, this was another data refresh of Google's Penguin algorithm. Penguin 3.0 allowed those affected by past updates to appear and overcome. In contrast, many others who had advanced to employ spammy link methods and had gained the earlier updates' radar saw a shock. The update took about a week to roll out entirely and impacted fewer than 1 per cent of English search queries.


September 23, 2014

Panda Update 4.1:

Google's Pierre Far published that this update to the Panda algorithm added: "a few more signals to help Panda recognize low-quality content more specifically." It struck 3 to 5 per cent of global search queries.


July 24, 2014

Pigeon Update:

The pigeon was a notable local search update that witnessed Google begin using more conventional website ranking signals to determine local search results. It also developed Google's distance and location ranking parameters.


June 12, 2014

Payday Loan Update 3.0:

Google's Payday Loan update 3.0, which primarily focused on targeting spammy queries, also included better protection against negative SEO attacks.


May 20, 2014

Google's official Matt Cutts proclaimed Panda 4.0, a notable update to the algorithm reshaping 7.5 per cent of English queries globally.


May 16, 2014

Payday Loan Update 2.0:

Google's Payday Loans algorithm is the "next-generation" google's algorithm shift to eliminate spammy websites thoroughly from search engine result pages.


February 6, 2014

Page Layout Refresh:

Google's official spokesperson Matt Cutts declared a refresh of the page layout algorithm. It emerged Google utterly reran the algorithm and updated its index.


October 4, 2013

Penguin Update 2.1:

Google's official spokesperson Matt Cutts again published the one, and only Penguin 2.0 algorithm data refresh, affecting almost a per cent of searches.


September 26, 2013

Hummingbird Update:

Google's Hummingbird update was a substantial overhaul to core search technology. It needed a way to properly comprehend and pass the most relevant results to more obscure queries due to the germination of conversational searches like voice and image searches. Google stated the new algorithm concerned about 90 per cent of searches worldwide.


June 11, 2013

Payday Loan Update:

The update was to identify and erase all the traces of spammy websites from search engine library primarily associated with shady industries, including high-interest loans and payday loans, casinos, debt and more. It practised about half a year to roll out thoroughly and struck about 0.3 per cent of U.S. queries in the English language.


May 22, 2013

Penguin Update 2.0:

This particular update was why it got the name"next generation" of the Penguin algorithm. Google's spokesperson Matt Cutts explained. This variant resembled more knowledgeable than the website homepage and top-level category pages to confirm link spam conducted to the website.


January 22, 2013

Panda Update:

Google announced this version Panda update to refresh data which ultimately affected almost 1.2 per cent of English queries universally.


December 21, 2012

Panda Update:

This version of the update was announced by google in 2012 to refresh data again, influencing almost 1.4% of English queries globally.


November 21, 2012

Panda Update:

It was officially confirmed by google over a tweet regarding a Panda data refresh that downed almost a per cent of English queries in the U.S.


November 5, 2012

Panda Update:

Google officially confirmed on November 5 that a Panda data refresh in 2012 affected around 0.4 per cent of Asian queries and almost 1.1 per cent of American queries.


October 9, 2012

Page Layout Update:

Google's official spokesperson Matt Cutts announced that the page layout algorithm had been updated, influencing almost a per cent of English queries globally. This update conceded websites hit by the first Google algorithm rollout to recover conceivably.


October 5, 2012

Penguin Update 1.2:

Matt Cutts declared over his Twitter handle the second Penguin algorithm data refreshed in 2012. This update changed about 0.3 per cent of U.S English queries.


September 28, 2012

Exact Match Domain Update:

Google's Exact Match Domain algorithm shift concentrated on freeing the SERPs of spammy or low-quality precise match domains. The Exact Match Domain was considered as one of the greatest moves by google.


September 27, 2012

Panda Update:

Significant update of the Panda algorithm took more than a week to roll out entirely and impacted 2.4 per cent of English search queries.


September 18, 2012

Panda Update 3.9.2:

Google announced the rollout of Panda data refreshes, impacting less than 0.7 per cent of search queries, computing "suspect some flux across the next few weeks."


August 20, 2012

Panda Update 3.9.1:

Google officials confirmed it a Panda data refresh influencing around 1 per cent of queries.


July 24, 2012

Panda Update 3.9:

Google announced an upgraded version of Panda, impacting ~1 per cent of search results.


June 25, 2012

Panda Update 3.8:

Google declared a Panda data refresh that conclusively impacted almost one per cent of queries.


June 8, 2012

Panda Update 3.7:

Google validated a refresh of the Panda algorithm that started rolling out on this date, affecting less than a per cent of queries globally and almost a per cent of worldwide questions.


May 26, 2012

Penguin Update 1.1:

Google's official personnel Matt Cutts published a data refresh of the Penguin algorithm, crashing less than 0.1 per cent of English queries. Many Websites also witnessed their downgrading ranks from SERP's because of the initial Penguin launch, and this also cleared up their link profiles.


April 27, 2012

Panda Update 3.6:

Google in April 2012 confirmed a quick refresh of the Panda algorithm occurred to revalidate the algorithm's logic.


April 24, 2012

Penguin Update:

A delayed predicted "over-optimization" discipline conclusively arrived in April 2012. Google published the launch of an algorithm shift expected to downrank websites engagement and visibility in competitive webspam that disrupted Google's Webmaster Guidelines. Google stated this update would strike about 3.1 per cent of English queries. Just two days later, we discovered the name of the algorithm, which was Penguin.


April 19, 2012

Panda Update 3.5:

Google's official Matt Cutts established a Panda data refresh that happened on April 19, 2012.


March 23, 2012

Panda Update 3.4:

Googled declared a Panda refresh, impacting almost around 1.6 per cent of queries in multiple nations.


February 27, 2012

Venice Update:

Following the Venice Update, Google began considering search results based on the searcher's physical location and the system's I.P. address. Additionally, Google could adequately detect whether a question or webpage had local intent or relevance and then curate the content.


January 19, 2012

Page Layout Update:

Google's page layout algorithm update, also popularly known by the name "Above the Fold update", concentrated websites with too many visuals like images and videos and ads above the fold. In simple words, a user would have to scroll down the page to see any actual content which googles identified as the pointless task to be performed by a user.


January 18, 2012

Panda Update 3.2:

Google endorsed a data refresh of Panda that took place in January 2012.


November 18, 2011

Panda Update 3.1:

Google announced a trivial Panda refresh, affecting fewer than a per cent of searches worldwide.


November 3, 2011

Freshness Update:

By this Update, Google reconstructed its ranking algorithm to resolve better when to present newer search results to be more relevant to searchers. The update reshaped 35 per cent of searches on Google.


October 19, 2011

Panda Update 3.0:

Google appended new remarkable signals into the Panda algorithm and also recalculated to derive a robust logic behind search results how the algorithm impacted websites.


September 28, 2011

Panda Update 2.5:

Extra emphasis was on the Google Panda algorithm. On October 5, 2011, Google's official Matt Cutts asserted to "expect any related algorithmic flux in the coming months." Officially validated flux dates were October 3 and October 13.


August 12, 2011

Panda Update 2.4:

Google's Panda algorithm update was rolled out universally for every English-speaking nations plus non-English speaking countries (excluding Japan, China, and Korea).


June 21, 2011

Panda Update 2.2:

Added update to the Google Panda algorithm shift series in June 2011.


May 9, 2011

Panda Update 2.1:

The industry initially named this update Panda 3.0, though Google clarified later that it was simply a data refresh, while it would be true of the 2.x updates to appear.


April 11, 2011

Panda Update 2.0:

Panda Update 2.0 was the first restructuration to the core Panda algorithm. This update consolidated supplementary signals, such as sites that users or searchers had blocked.


February 23, 2011

Panda Update:

The original emphasis of a then-unnamed Google algorithm update resulted in affecting 12 per cent of search engine queries, shocking the SEO community, including many big players, effectively closing the "content farm" business model as it survived at the time. Originally called Farmer within the industry, Google announced soon post-launch that the Algorithm shift was named 'Panda', named after the engineer responsible for developing the principal algorithm.


April 28, 2010

MayDay Update:

The Mayday update was an algorithmic improvement whence Google assessed which sites were the most suitable match for long-tail questions. The update rolled out within April 28 and May 3.


August 10, 2009

Caffeine Update:

Google's Caffeine update was a distinct web indexing scheme that enabled Google to crawl and cache data with enhanced efficiency, resulting in 50 per cent brand-new results. Developers had immediate access commencing in August 2009 before the update formally rolled out on June 8, 2010.


January 18, 2009

Vince Update:

Google's Vince update was a fleet one. The update was a noticeable shift in broad-level aggressive keyword terms to honour first page rankings for great brand domains versus beforehand ranking sites.


December 15, 2005

Big Daddy Update:

Big Daddy was an incremental update to Google's search engine foundation that began rolling out in December 2005 and concluded in March 2006. This update improved whereby Google manipulated technical concerns such as URL canonicalization and redirects. Any websites didn't make it into the new Big Daddy data centres, typically due to abnormal linking.


Jagger Update:

The Jagger update was rolled out in three phases, which commenced with copious backlink-targeted updates in early September that meant to solve unnatural link building, paid links, and other types of spam actions performed by users who deceive the system. The next phase had the most notable influence in October. The ultimate stage perfected near the end of November.

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