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A Brief Timeline of Major Google Algorithm Updates

Google Algorithm Updates, Google Updates

Google began its humble journey in 1998. From its modest beginnings, Google has evolved as one the biggest innovations in the history of mankind, and is currently the biggest thing on the internet, perhaps, second only to the internet.

However, Google hasn’t always been what it is today, and it took it a lot of time, efforts and developments to become the most reliable source of information that it is currently.

Google, in a year, makes about 400-600 alterations in its search algorithm. This is done with a view to keep the spammers and unethical SEO practitioners under check. However, most of these changes are minor and inconsequential.

Google seldom rolls out major algorithm changes, but when it does, it makes sure that the update significantly affects the search results and causes turbulence in the world of webmasters across the globe.

We’ll now provide you with a brief history of major Google algorithm updates. It will help you understand how, over the years, a meager research project transformed into the biggest ever search engine.

The updates are mentioned in a chronological order, i.e. the order in which they occurred.

February 2011 – Panda

Affecting about 12% of search results, Panda was a prominent Google algorithm update and hit the websites hard. This was mainly used to assign quality score to web content and functioned more as a filter.

It witnessed 2 rollouts in subsequently in September 2014 and July 2015

April 2012 – Penguin

Another of a major algorithm update, Google Penguin’s goal was to identify and down-rank websites which it felt were spamming the search results and contained unnatural link profiles.

Over the following years, Penguin saw numerous rollouts and since 2016, it’s been an essential part of Google’s core algorithm and is an important ranking factor operating in real time.

August 2013 – Hummingbird

Hummingbird was a major overhaul affecting the important concepts of semantics. It had much to do with the interpretation of search queries, the longer and conversational ones in particular.

This algorithm update focused on matching the searcher’s intent.

July 2015 – Pigeon

The intent of this particular algorithm update was to dramatically influence local search results. Google Pigeon affected the search results majorly based on searcher’s location.

It successfully provided a push to local SEO strategies and boosted local websites.

April 2015 – Mobile-friendly Update

Known as Mobile Geddon, this update ensured that only the pages optimized specifically for mobiles ranked high on mobile searches.

It affected the mobile search queries across the world in all languages and down-ranked the websites not compatible for mobile phones.

October 2015 – RankBrain

RankBrain was essentially a ranking signal involving the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to serve better-matched search result and decipher the implied meaning behind search queries which it previously couldn’t.

March 2017 – Fred

Although the update did take place, Google didn’t discuss the specifics involved. Various studies, however, portray that the algorithm update affects the content-only websites with low-quality content on topics far and wide.

However, Google simply mentioned that Fred seeks to target the websites explicitly violating Webmaster’s guidelines.

For both white-hat and grey-hat SEO practitioners, it’s foremost to keep up with Google’s algorithm updates. This ensures that they understand the best practices for SEO and traffic patterns. It also gives a comprehensive understanding of what Google wants from websites.

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