Complete Google Algorithm Update History
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Google is updating or refreshing its algorithm on a daily basis and while the majority of the changes are small, some have a significant impact on search results which can make or break a brand’s visibility. Having an understanding of Google algorithm update history can help to explain shifts in ranking or organic traffic and help to inform future search engine optimization strategy. Here is a Google algorithm update timeline including the most significant updates which impacted search results over the years.
October 22, 2019: BERT Update
The most recent Google algorithm update supported BERT natural language processing enabling Google to understand natural language and context in search.
October 2, 2019: Unnamed
Several days of ranking fluctuation reported but no official confirmation from Google.
September 24, 2019: September 2019 Core Update
Core update appeared to impact websites that had been affected by previous core updates in terms of content quality, expertise, presentation, production, and competitive comparison.
July 12, 2019: Maverick Update
Rank trackers detected a lot of flux in rankings but Google has not confirmed an update.
June 6, 2019: Site Diversity Update
This update was intended to improve scenarios where sites had multiple organic listings.
June 3, 2019: June 2019 Core Update
Google announced this broad core algorithm update. Some believe this was a reversal of the March 2019 update, focusing on search intent, and some niches saw a lot of volatility.
May 23, 2019: Indexing Bugs
Google confirmed the update was to fix two indexing bugs that were preventing new content from being properly indexed.
April 5, 2019: Deindexing Bug
A bug was dropping pages from the search index but sites recovered soon after the update.
March 12, 2019: March 2019 Core Update
Also called the “Florida 2” update because it happened around the time of the popular Pubcon conference in Florida. The analysis suggested it rewarded sites with good user experience.
March 1, 2019: 19-result SERPs
Google displayed anomalous page-1 counts including up to 19 organic results, related to in-depth articles which then disappeared on March 6.
August 1, 2018: Medic Core Update
Broad core algorithm update with significant impact happened over a week. Appeared to impact health and wellness sector in particular.
July 24, 2018: Chrome Security Warnings (Full Site)
Chrome 68 started marking all non-HTTPS sites as “not secure.”
July 9, 2018: Mobile Speed Update
This update made page speed a ranking factor for mobile results.
June 14, 2018: Video Carousels
Videos in organic results were moved into a dedicated video carousel.
May 13, 2018: Snippet Length Drop
In the Google update May 2018, Google rolled back most snippets to the shorter limit (about 150-160 characters) after a few months of testing longer display snippets with up to 300 characters.
March 26, 2018: Mobile-First Index Roll-out
After months of testing, Google announced the roll-out of the mobile-first index.
March 14, 2018: Zero-result SERP Test
Google tested displaying zero organic results and a ‘show all’ button. The test was stopped after a week.
March 8, 2018: Brackets Core Update
Google confirmed a core update that continued for almost two weeks.
December 14, 2017: Maccabees Update
Google search engine update 2017 confirmed several small updates had taken place.
November 30, 2017: Snippet Length Increase
Google increased the character limit for snippets after 2 years of testing from 155 to 300.
October 27, 2017: Featured Snippet Drop
There was a significant drop in featured snippets alongside a jump in Knowledge Panels.
October 17, 2017: Chrome Security Warnings (Forms)
Google began warning visitors to sites with unsecured forms.
June 20, 2017: Google Jobs
Google launched a job listings portal drawing from major providers.
March 8, 2017: “Fred” (Unconfirmed)
There were a lot of reports of significant flux across SEO, but Google did not confirm a core update.
January 10, 2017: Intrusive Interstitial Penalty
Google penalized aggressive and intrusive pop-ups that affect the user experience.
October 6, 2016: Penguin 4.0, Phase 2
Google updates 2016 ended with the second phase of Penguin 4.0 reversed all previous Penguin penalties.
September 27, 2016: Penguin 4.0, Phase 1
The first phase of Penguin 4.0 was a less aggressive version of the Penguin algorithm. It devalues bad links rather than penalizing a website.
September 23, 2016: Penguin 4.0 Announcement
Major Penguin update which made it part of the core algorithm.
May 12, 2016: Mobile-friendly 2
This update again boosted ranking for mobile-friendly sites.
February 23, 2016: AdWords Shake-up
Changes were made to AdWords rolling out 4-ad top blocks and remove right-column ads.
October 26, 2015: RankBrain
Google announced machine learning had been part of the algorithm for several months.
July 17, 2015: Panda 4.2
A Panda data refresh but no major update.
May 3, 2015: The Quality Update
Google confirmed that quality signals had been impacted by a core update but did not release specifics.
April 22, 2015: Mobile Update AKA “Mobilegeddon”
In the first of Google updates 2015, Google announced that rankings would be different for mobile-friendly sites on mobile devices.
December 22, 2014: Pigeon Expands (UK, CA, AU)
A major local update that hit the US in 2014 was widened to the UK, Australia, and Canada.
December 10, 2014: Penguin Everflux
Google stated that they would be releasing smaller updated more frequently rather than infrequent but major updates.
October 21, 2014: Pirate 2.0
This update was intended to combat digital media and software piracy and targeted a small group of websites.
October 17, 2014: Penguin 3.0
One year after the Penguin 2.1 update, Google released a data refresh.
October 1, 2014: “In The News” Box
News links were expanded to a larger group of potential sites.
September 23, 2014: Panda 4.1
A significant Panda update was rolled out gradually which affected 3-5% of queries.
August 28, 2014: Authorship Removed
Authorship bylines were removed from SERPs.
August 6, 2014: HTTPS/SSL Update
Google confirmed they would be favoring secure sites that used encryption.
July 24, 2014: Pigeon
The Pigeon update affected the US changing how local results are handled.
June 28, 2014: Authorship Photo Drop
Google dropped authorship photos from SERPs.
June 12, 2014: Payday Loan 3.0
Google launched another update less than a month after the initial Payday Loan update, targeting spammy queries.
May 19, 2014: Panda 4.0
This major Panda update included both an algorithm update and a data refresh.
May 16, 2014: Payday Loan 2.0
Google updated the payday loan algorithm to target spammy websites.
February 6, 2014: Page Layout
In the first of the Google algorithm updates 2014 page layout was refreshed to penalize websites with too many adverts above the fold.
December 19, 2013: Authorship Shake-up
The authorship mark-up was removed from 15% of queries.
October 4, 2013: Penguin 2.1
An update to the Penguin algorithm was reported as being a likely refresh, but some reported significant losses.
August 20, 2013: Hummingbird
Google confirmed that the Hummingbird update had been rolled out in the previous month and made changes to semantic search and the Knowledge Graph.
August 6, 2013: In-depth Articles
‘In-depth articles’ added as a new type of news result which showed long, evergreen content.
July 19, 2013: Knowledge Graph Expansion
Knowledge Graph queries increased by more than 50% with over 25% of searches returning a Knowledge Graph entry.
July 18, 2013: Panda Recovery
A Panda update was confirmed but details were unclear; it seemed to soften previous Panda penalties.
June 11, 2013: “Payday Loan” Update
This algorithmic update targeted spammy results including porn and payday loans.
May 22, 2013: Penguin 2.0
A Penguin update was released which appeared to be targeted towards sites on a page by page level.
May 21, 2013: Domain Crowding
This update was intended to control domain crowding and diversity deep the SERPs from page 2 and beyond.
May 9, 2013: “Phantom”
While there was no official confirmation, a lot of sites reported substantial traffic loss and volatility.
March 14, 2013: Panda
This Panda update was the last before it was integrated into the core algorithm.
January 22, 2013: Panda
Around 1.2% of queries were affected by this update.
December 21, 2012: Panda
A Panda refresh affecting 1.3% of English queries.
December 4, 2012: Knowledge Graph Expansion
Knowledge Graph functionality was added to non-English queries KG capabilities were enhanced. Languages included French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese.
November 21, 2012: Panda
This update seemed to be data only rather than algorithmic.
November 5, 2012: Panda
This update impacted around 1.1% of English queries.
October 9, 2012: Page Layout
Google updated the page layout change which had happened in January which penalized pages with too many adverts above the fold.
October 5, 2012: Penguin
This was a small update which only impacted around 0.3% of queries”.
September 27, 2012: Panda
A significant Panda algorithmic and data update rolled out affecting 2.4% of queries.
September 27, 2012: Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update
Changes to the way Google handled exact-match domains were announced leading to large-scale devaluation and impacting 0.6% of queries.
September 18, 2012: Panda 3.9.2
A data-only Panda refresh which caused moderate fluctuation in rankings.
August 20, 2012: Panda 3.9.1
A relatively small Panda update.
August 14, 2012: 7-Result SERPs
Google changed the Top 10 by limiting it to 7 results for around 18% of queries.
August 10, 2012: DMCA Penalty (Pirate)
Now in Google update history, they confirmed they would be penalizing websites that repeatedly violated copyright.
July 24, 2012: Panda 3.9
About 1% of queries were affected by a Panda update with fluctuation in the rankings for around a week.
July 19, 2012: Link Warnings
Google sent out a lot of unnatural link warnings using Google Webmaster Tools but then announced that these new warnings may not actually cause a significant problem.
June 8, 2012: Panda 3.7
This Panda update caused significant ranking fluctuation but for less than 1% of queries.
May 25, 2012: Penguin 1.1
The first data update after the Penguin algorithm update confirmed that Penguin data was like Panda in that it was being processed separately to the main search index.
May 16, 2012: Knowledge Graph
Google started to roll out Knowledge Graph which is a SERP-integrated display providing additional information which represented a step closer to semantic search.
April 27, 2012: Panda 3.6
A relatively small update to Panda was made which seemed to have little impact.
April 24, 2012: Penguin
The webspam update which later became known as Penguin was rolled out to tackle over-optimization, spammy links, and keyword stuffing. It impacted around 3.1% of English queries.
April 19, 2012: Panda 3.5
A Panda data update with minimal changes.
April 16, 2012: Parked Domain Bug
Google confirmed that some domains had been mistakenly scored as parked domains because of a data error which had devalued them.
March 23, 2012: Panda 3.4
A Panda update which affected 1.6% of searches was rolled out.
March 12, 2012: Search Quality Video
While there was not an algorithm update, Google released a video from a search quality meeting to give SEO experts and insight into the algorithm.
February 27, 2012: Venice
This update seemed to localize organic results much more strictly.
February 27, 2012: Panda 3.3
A minor update to the Panda algorithm three days after the anniversary of the launch of Panda.
January 19, 2012: Ads Above The Fold
Sites with too much ad-space above the fold were devalued as part of this page layout update.
January 18, 2012: Panda 3.2
A Panda data update occured.
January 10, 2012: Search + Your World
Google announced a significant change to personalization through pushing Google+ social data and user profiles into SERPs as well as a new button to shut off personalization.
December 1, 2011: December 10-Pack
Google confirmed 10 updates but that detail would be released every month. These included related query refinements, blog search freshness, image search freshness, and parked domain detection.
November 18, 2011: Panda 3.1
Google began its course of small updates to Panda which became known as the ‘Panda Flux’ period.
November 3, 2011: Freshness Update
Google announced that freshness would be rewarded which affected over 35% of queries and suggested a strong focus on recent and relevant content.
October 18, 2011: Query Encryption
Google encrypted search queries for privacy reasons disrupting keyword referral data.
September 28, 2011: Panda 2.5
Another Panda update with some websites reporting significant losses but no details confirmed.
September 15, 2011: Pagination Elements
Google introduced the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” link elements to help fix crawl and duplication problems which were created by pagination.
August 16, 2011: Expanded Sitelinks
Google officially rolled out expanded site-links, typically for brand queries.
August 12, 2011: Panda 2.4
Panda was rolled out internationally for English-language queries globally and non-English queries with the exceptions of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
July 23, 2011: Panda 2.3
This update was suspected to have brought in new ranking factors but this was not confirmed by Google.
June 28, 2011: Google+
Google launched Google+ for sharing content.
June 21, 2011: Panda 2.2
Google Panda updates continued, but occurred separately from the main index and not in real-time.
June 2, 2011: Schema.org
Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft announced a consolidated approach to structured data as well as creating new schemas to make search results richer.
May 9, 2011: Panda 2.1
Minor changes to the Panda algorithm.
April 11, 2011: Panda 2.0
The Panda update was rolled out to all English queries worldwide.
March 30, 2011: The +1 Button
Google launched the share +1 button next to results links in response to competition from Facebook and Twitter.
February 23, 2011: Panda/Farmer
Panda is probably the most famous Google update names, as this was a significant update that affected up to 12% of search results targeting thin content and high ad-to-content ratios.
January 28, 2011: Attribution Update
This update affected 2% of queries and was intended to support content attribution and prevent scrapers.
January 1, 2011: Overstock.com Penalty
Google penalized sites like Overstock.com and JCPenney for manipulative SEO tactics foreshadowing the Panda update.
December 1, 2010: Negative Reviews
Google responded to news that a site called DecorMyEyes was ranking due to negative reviews and adjusted the algorithm to penalize sites using similar tactics.
December 1, 2010: Social Signals
Google confirmed that social signals from Facebook and Twitter were being used as ranking factors.
November 1, 2010: Instant Previews
A magnifying glass icon appeared on Google search results, allowing users to preview a landing page directly from SERPs.
September 1, 2010: Google Instant
Google Instant launched displaying search results while a query was still being typed.
August 1, 2010: Brand Update
Google was now allowing the same domain to appear multiple times on a SERP, whereas they were previously limited to 2.
June 1, 2010: Caffeine (Rollout)
Google rolled out the Caffeine infrastructure to boost Google’s raw speed and to achieve a tighter integration between crawling and indexation.
May 1, 2010: May Day
This update impacted the long-tail and websites with lots of thin content seemed to be hit particularly hard.
April 1, 2010: Google Places
The launch of Google Places streamlined the Local Business Center and integrated with local search including advertising options.
December 1, 2009: Real-time Search
Multiple sources were integrated into a SERPS feed in real-time.
August 1, 2009: Caffeine (Preview)
This was a preview to a significant change to speed crawling, index expansion, and integration and real-time ranking.
February 1, 2009: Vince
While SEOs felt this was a major update that favored big brands, Google maintained that this was a minor update.
February 1, 2009: Rel-canonical Tag
Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all announced support for the Canonical Tag, enabling webmasters to give canonicalization signals to search bots without affecting human users.
August 1, 2008: Google Suggest
Google introduced Suggest which displayed suggested searches in a dropdown below the search box.
April 1, 2008: Dewey
This change suggested Google was boosting its own internal properties but there was no real evidence of that.
June 1, 2007: Buffy
Buffy was suggested to be an accumulation of several smaller changes when Vanessa Fox left Google.
May 1, 2007: Universal Search
Google combined news, images, video and local results into traditional search results and changed their format.
December 1, 2006: False Alarm
There were reports of major ranking changes in November, but Google did not confirm any major changes.
November 1, 2006: Supplemental Update
Google made several changes to the supplemental index and how filtered pages were managed.
December 1, 2005: Big Daddy
This update changed the way Google treated URL canonicalization, redirects (301/302) and other technical issues.
October 1, 2005: Google Local/Maps
Google merged Maps data into the LBC, gradually driving several changes in local SEO.
October 1, 2005: Jagger
This series of updates targeted at low-quality links such as reciprocal links, link farms, and paid links.
September 1, 2005: Gilligan
This was also referred to as the ‘False’ update as although there were widespread reports of change. Google claimed no ‘major’ algorithm update occurred.
June 1, 2005: XML Sitemaps
Google enabled webmasters to submit XML sitemaps via Webmaster Tools so they could bypass traditional HTML sitemaps.
June 1, 2005: Personalized Search
This roll-out of changes to personalized search tapped utilized users’ search histories to automatically target search results.
May 1, 2005: Bourbon
This quality update was unclear but it’s suspected that it addressed duplicate content and non-canonical (www vs. non-www) URLs.
February 1, 2005: Allegra
The update was suspected to be the start of Google penalizing suspicious links.
January 1, 2005: Nofollow
Google introduced ‘no-follow’ as a way to manage link quality.
January 1, 2004: Austin
The Austin update targeted deceptive SEO tactics that Florida had missed, such as invisible text.
November 1, 2003: Florida
A significant update which led to many websites losing ranking and aimed to reduce keyword stuffing and other manipulative SEO tactics.
September 1, 2003: Supplemental Index
Google introduced a supplemental index to increase the number of search results.
July 1, 2003: Fritz
The index was now being adapted incrementally on a daily basis rather than big monthly changes.
June 1, 2003: Esmeralda
A more continuous update process was initiated.
May 1, 2003: Dominic
There was fluctuation in May but it is unclear what was changed.
April 1, 2003: Cassandra
Google targeted poor link quality, including linking excessively from co-owned websites as well as hidden links and hidden text.
February 1, 2003: Boston
The first named Google update was announced at SES Boston. The Google updates list was intended to be monthly at first but algorithm updates became much more frequent.
September 1, 2002: 1st Documented Update
In the fall before the first significant ‘named’ update caused a flux in the SERPs.
December 1, 2000: Google Toolbar
Sparking debate and disagreement for many years to come, Google launched the browser toolbar and Toolbar PageRank (TBPR).
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