In the field of Digital Marketing, the biggest challenge that professionals face is Google Algorithm Updates. Vxplore Technologies, a Digital Marketing Agency in India, first explains, “What is Google Algorithm?”. It is a broad topic to cover as it is Google’s system designed to provide relevant results and data depending on the search queries of the user. Google Algorithm updates focus on serving optimum quality, user experience and relevant results for search queries to its users. These algorithm updates are also Google’s defence strategy against misusers of loopholes to rank up on the SERP.
In the starting years of Google Search Engine, the number of updates was quite less than today’s frequency. The updates are pushed so often that it is arduous to keep track of the updates even for one of the Best Digital Marketing Companies in India, like Vxplore Technologies. However, Vxplore Technologies have experts with keen eyes that have no chance of missing an important update and its changes.
Here is the complete history of vital Google updates since 2003:
- The first major update is Florida Update – November 16, 2003
- The Jagger Update – September 1, 2005
- The Big Daddy Update – December 15, 2005
- The Vince Update – January 18, 2009
- The Caffeine Update – August 10, 2009
- The May Day Update – April 28, 2010
- The Panda Update – February 23, 2011 – January 11, 2016
- Freshness Update – November 3, 2011
- Page Layout Update – January 19, 2012 –
- The Penguin Update – April 24, 2012 – September 23, 2016
- Exact Match Domain Update – September 28, 2012
- Payday Loan Update – June 11, 2013 –
- The Hummingbird Update – September 26, 2013
- Page Layout Refresh Update – February 6, 2014
- The Pigeon Update – July 24, 2014
- The Mobile Friendly Update – April 21, 2015 –
- Quality Update – May 3, 2015 –
- The RankBrain Update – October 26, 2015
- Panda Core Algorithm Incorporation – January 11, 2016
- Penguin Update 4.0 & Core Algorithm Integration – September 23, 2016
- Unnamed Update – November 10, 2016
- Intrusive Interstitials Update – January 10, 2017
- February 1 Update – February 1, 2017
- February 7 Update – February 7, 2017
- The Fred Update – March 7, 2017
- June 25 Update – June 25, 2017
- The Fall Flux – September 8, 2017
- The Maccabees Update – December 12, 2017
- Broad Core Algorithm Update – March 9, 2018 –
- A “Small” Update – September 27, 2018
- Unconfirmed Halloween Update – October 31, 2018
- Valentine’s Day Update – February 13, 2019
- The Florida 2 update – March 12, 2019
- June 2019 Core Update – June 2, 2019
- The Featured Snippets Update – August 1, 2019
- The BERT Update – October 25, 2019
- The BERT (Worldwide) Update – December 9, 2019
- January 2020 Core Update – January 13, 2020
- The Featured Snippet Deduplication – January 22, 2020
- May 2020 Core Update – May 4, 2020
- December 2020 Core Update – December 3, 2020
- The Passage Ranking Update – February 10, 2021
- The Product Reviews Update – April 8, 2021
- The Known Victims Protection Update – June 10, 2021
- The Page Experience Update – June 15, 2021
- The June 2021 Spam Update – June 23, 2021
- The Spam Update Part 2 – June 28, 2021
- July 2021 Core Update – July 1 & July 12, 2021
- The Google Link Spam Algorithm Update – July 26, 2021
- Google Spam Update – November 3, 2021
- Broad Core Update – November 17, 2021
- November 2021 Local Search Update – November 30, 2021
- December 2021 Product Review Update – December 1, 2021
- The Page Experience Update – February 22, 2022
- March 2022 Product Algorithm Update – March 23, 2022
- May 2022 Core Update – May 22, 2022
- July 2022 Product Reviews Update – July 27, 2022
- The Helpful Content Update – August 25, 2022
The first major update is Florida Update – November 16, 2003:
Florida Update shook all SEO malpractitioners like a storm. It was the first update solely focusing on SEO. Websites that used “Black-Hat SEO“, techniques like keyword stuffing, hidden links, private link networks etc, to win the auction by bidding on high-ranking keywords got negatively ranked. Their rankings were utterly wiped out.
The Jagger Update – September 1, 2005:
After punishing the Black Hat SEO practitioners with the Florida update, it was the turn of people to use paid and spam links as backlink-building techniques. This update rolled out in three phases and focused entirely on Backlink building. By November 2005, the three phases were complete, setting strong regulations against spam backlinks.
The Big Daddy Update – December 15, 2005:
The Big Daddy update focused on URL canonicalization and redirects. The previously released Jagger Update filtered out the websites with paid links using unethical linking methods. These websites weren’t added to the Big Daddy servers. This update took a long time to roll out completely and lasted between December 2005 and March 2006.
The Vince Update – January 18, 2009:
This update rewarded big brands with increased website traffic with high-ranking keywords, favouring the big brands to appear on the search results more often. Vinces update was so partial towards already successful offline brands that it also came to be known as “Brand Update”.
The Caffeine Update – August 10, 2009:
The Caffeine Update focused on increasing the efficiency of the web crawlers. After this update, Google could show more relevant results to the search queries. This was all because the indexing was not done after classifying any sites with fresh or changed content. This increased the crawlers’ speed, and they could store more data than before.
The May Day Update – April 28, 2010:
This update focused on Google’s ability to provide website results to users based on their relevance to search queries with long tail keywords. The website owners had mixed reviews then regarding the impact of this update on the long-tail SEO of their website.
The Panda Update – February 23, 2011 – January 11, 2016:
The Panda Update was first released on February 23, 2011, and then until January 11, 2016, many versions of the same update were rolled out, introducing improvements. This update was initially released as an unnamed update, and it shook the world by impacting 12% of the total search queries. This was another attempt from Google’s end to eliminate Black Hat SEO practitioners. After this update, the content’s quality became a crucial ranking factor and marked the end of “content farms”. Content Farms are websites that use the Black Hat SEO technique Keyword Stuffing to rank their pages with low-quality blogs and content higher on the SERP. In August of 2011, the Panda Update was available worldwide except for three countries: Japan, China and Korea.
Google rolled out many minor updates until September 2012. A significant Panda update affected 2.4% of English search queries. Later in May of 2014, Panda 4.0 was launched, which impacted another 7.5% of English search queries. The final Panda Update was its 4.2 installment which was a slow rollout on the part of Google. After this, in 2016 Panda Core Algorithm update was launched, which as the name suggests, incorporated Panda as Google Algorithm’s other ranking factor.
Summarizing the Panda Update in a few points:
- Google’s Panda Update was launched on February 23, 2011
- Panda Update aimed to reduce the number of Black Hat SEO Sites
- It also brought an end to many content farm sites
- Panda Update made content quality a crucial ranking factor
- It was incorporated into the Algorithm on January 11, 2016
Freshness Update – November 3, 2011:
This major update enabled Google to show fresher and more recent results to search queries. It impacted 35% of searches, which helped searchers gain information regarding current events.
Page Layout Update – January 19, 2012:
Page Layout update solely focused on the websites exploiting advertisements. These websites ran many ads on the website instead of the content the visitors looked for. The visitors had to scroll down on a page to find the content, and all of it above was filled with ads.
The Penguin Update – April 24, 2012 – September 23, 2016:
This was a significant offence against the Black Hat SEO (keyword stuffing and unnatural linking) technique practitioners. It was first launched as an unnamed update until two days after it was revealed that it’s called Penguin. The Penguin Update allowed the algorithm to rank websites that used Black Hat SEO techniques negatively. 3.1% of English search queries were impacted at the start. In the next instalment, Penguin 1.1, the websites that got negatively ranked learnt their lesson and started following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This helped in their ranking slowly recovering. While it again affected many websites doing wrong.
By the time Penguin 2.0 was launched in May 2013, the Google algorithm was efficient enough to scan a website inside and out. It was no longer the case that only the home page was checked for violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. There was another refresh update that was mistaken as a significant update but did the same as 1.1. The final update for the Penguin was launched, integrating Penguin into Google’s Core Algorithm as well. Like any other Core Algorithm incorporation, this also meant more power to that update. It is not that often anymore that Penguin issues penalties on websites, but now, as it is a part of Google’s Core Algorithm, it is still active.
Summarizing the Penguin Update in a few points:
- On April 24, 2012 launched the Penguin Update
- It aimed to eliminate sites that practiced keyword stuffing
- It also negatively ranked the websites that used unnatural linking methods
- Penguin Update enabled Google to analyze individual pages for malpractice
- On September 23, 2016 Penguin Update incorporated into the Google Algorithm
Exact Match Domain Update – September 28, 2012:
The Exact Match Domain Update focused on eliminating EMDs from the Search Engine Results Pages. Exact Match Domains are domain names that perfectly match the user’s search queries, and like keywords, relevance helps boost the ranking and drive traffic to your website. However, these EMD Websites don’t focus on quality content, and it was impossible to stop people from buying domains with these matching names. Therefore, this algorithm update targeted these sites.
Payday Loan Update – June 11, 2013:
On June 11, 2013 until June 12, 2014 released three versions of Payday Loan Update. These updates targeted spammy search queries regarding suspicious business websites. The following category businesses owned these websites – pharmaceuticals, loan granting, casinos, betting etc. This was Google’s method to ensure no illegal activity was proceeding over their search engine-listed websites.
The Hummingbird Update – September 26, 2013:
The Hummingbird Update had these primary characteristics:
- Google’s Hummingbird Update launched on September 26, 2013
- It helped Google understand queries in conversational tone
- It made Google quick and accurate similar to a Hummingbird while giving results
- It impacted 90% of the world’s search queries
- Hummingbird Update never integrated into Google’s Core Algorithm
Now that the voice search feature is available and the growth in the number of Google users. The Search Engine started receiving searches in a more regular human conversational tone, making them complex for the algorithm to make sense of. The Hummingbird Update, launched at the end of September 2013, was Google’s way to tackle these complex search queries and give better relevant results. The name depicts that this update made Google quick and accurate like a Hummingbird. This update impacted 90% of the world’s search queries. Therefore this was a significant improvement in Google Search’s speed and precision. People misunderstood this as an integration in the core algorithm of Google as well, but later it was cleared that it is a rewrite of an already existing Google Algorithm.
Page Layout Refresh Update – February 6, 2014:
The Google Algorithm’s index updated and launched as Page Layout Refresh Update. This update introduced no significant changes. This didn’t stand to the expectations of people waiting for Google’s other tactic to fight against the websites with numerous static ads running on them.
The Pigeon Update – July 24, 2014:
The Best Local SEO Company Vxplore Technologies experts mentioned that this was a huge update focusing on Local SEO results. This improved how Google ranked local businesses according to their location and their Local SEO on their website. This allowed small companies to compete with the giants in their area. Google rewarded these businesses with a higher ranking on the SERP in terms of Local Searches if they optimized their site accordingly. This update is why people started getting relevant results for queries like “Best Local SEO Company in Kolkata“.
In the end, if we look at Pigeon Update, the details are:
- Google’s Pigeon Update rolled out on July 24, 2014
- This update focused mainly on Local SEO Results
- It rewarded the deserving local businesses with increased visibility
- This gave an opportunity to the small companies in many localities
- Great Local SEO practitioners ranked higher on the SERP
The Mobile Friendly Update #1 and #2 – April 21, 2015 – May 12, 2016:
As mobile phones replaced computers as the preferred search device, Businesses started looking for SEO Experts and Web Developers. It was a must for these websites to get optimized for mobile phones as quickly as possible. The Mobile Friendly Update released in April of 2015 enabled Google to favour the websites that were well optimized for mobile phones. These websites were rewarded with increased ranking and visibility over unoptimized websites.
The 2nd Mobile Friendly Update launched on May 12, 2016. This update focused on increasing the effect of the ranking determining signal for the Search Engine.
Quality Update – May 3, 2015 – August 19, 2017:
Various quality updates released from May 3, 2015, until August 19, 2017.
The websites with lower content quality, poor user experience and excessive ads got targeted through these updates, and they faced punishment by readjusting their ranking. All these quality updates warned other website owners to focus on providing value to their users with their content and giving a satisfactory user experience.
The RankBrain Update – October 26, 2015:
The RankBrain Update of October 2015 is probably why our Google searches are so accurate today. Rank Brain was an algorithm update which relied on machine learning. Through this, it organized the relevant searches better than ever offered. It focuses on the intent behind a searcher’s search query. At the time of its launch, it only impacted 15% of all the search queries. However, as of now, all of the search results for our questions are shown by Rank Brain. This machine learning platform is based on Hummingbird, which was already a fast and precise addition to the Google Algorithm.
Let’s summarize Rankbrain Update into few points:
- October 26, 2015 launched the Rankbrain Update
- This update introduced Machine Learning into the algorithm
- Rank Brain enabled Google to prioritize the intent behind search queries
- It was based on the Hummingbird Update
- It made Google Results further precise and relevant
Unnamed Update – November 10, 2016:
The experts at Vxplore Technologies, one of the Best Digital Marketing Companies in India, found this with extensive research that there was a hidden update released on November 10, 2016. This update had no name; that’s the reason behind its difficult-to-track existence. However, many websites active at the time reported a sudden increase in their traffic on the date this update is rumoured to have launched. There is mixed feedback on this as well because some website owners experienced a drop in their website traffic.
Intrusive Interstitials Update – January 10, 2017:
An update from Google that improved the search experience on mobile was the Intrusive Interstitials Update in January 2017. Earlier, there were many interstitial and pop-up ads when searching on mobiles, and this update fixed it by reducing the number of such pop-up ads. This was a necessary change as by 2017, most of the world’s population had smartphones, and they accessed the internet on the go on their mobile screens. Even businesses started optimizing their websites for different devices.
If we look at the details, in points then:
- This updates rolled out on January 10, 2017
- Intrusive Interstitials Update improved Google’s User Experience on mobiles
- It reduced the number of pop up ads on mobiles when visiting websites
- This helped people save time and avoid interstitials
- It was a necessary update as number of mobile users spiked worldwide
February 1 Update – February 1, 2017:
Another mysterious and rumoured update might have been released on February 1, 2017. Vxplore Technologies, one of the Best Digital Marketing Companies in India, shares that this update focuses on private blog networks and websites that took services of spam link building which is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
February 7 Update – February 7, 2017:
This was another unnamed update that is rumoured to have created a radical change in the ranking of websites on the SERP. It balanced the ranking; some websites that deserved low ranking were negatively ranked, while others which needed promotion were boosted. This, as expected, got varied reactions from people as well. It targeted content quality and relevance.
The Fred Update – March 7, 2017:
This was a highly controversial update released on March 7, 2017. Google’s another aggressive move on low-quality content websites, and they were analyzed and minus ranked. Google kept mum on this update. However, they couldn’t escape people’s questions and doubts about this update, which shook many website owners. Google dodged all questions by saying that the answers lie within Google Webmaster’s Quality Guidelines.
The information Vxplore Technologies has on Fred Update says that:
- The Fred Update rolled out on March 7, 2017
- It punished sites for unnatural linking
- It also negatively ranked sites that were displaying too many ads
- This raised the value and space for content on websites
- Google didn’t answer the questions related to Fred upon its launch
June 25 Update – June 25, 2017:
2017, the year of mysterious Algorithm updates from Google’s end with another unnamed update. This update released in June 2017 and rumours are that it played with the SERP rankings. Vxplore Technologies, a Digital Marketing Agency in India, reported that this update heavily affected the ranking of beverage businesses. The search queries that ranked between the positions 6-10 greatly impacted and experienced both a fall and boost in ranking, probably depending on their content quality.
The Fall Flux – September 8, 2017:
A series of fluctuations in the Google Algorithm took place between September 8 and October 12, 2017. Many conglomerates and giant companies reported this with a decent internet presence. These updates impacted the search visibility of these websites. The traffic generation was irregular, and nobody had any answer. The blame is on the inconsistent update dates
The specific dates of these irregularities are:
September 8, 2017, September 18, 2017, September 25, 2017, September 29, 2017, October 4, 2017, October 12, 2017
The Maccabees Update – December 12, 2017:
Google admitted the changes made to the Google Algorithm between December 12th and 14th. These changes were minor and didn’t impact a majority of the websites. However, some websites noticed this impact and reported it on time. Vxplore Technologies, the Best Digital Marketing Agency in India, opines that 2017 had so many minor updates that Google never announced and put much on unrest.
Broad Core Algorithm Update – March 9, 2018 – November 17, 2021:
Broad Core Algorithm Updates are often not understood correctly by even the experts, and these misconceptions are due to the lack of information provided by Google regarding these updates. The specialists at Vxplore Technologies regard Broad Core Algorithm updates as small changes made to the main search algorithm, as well as a few ranking signals received by Google and factors that it considers. The updates released with this name have been focusing on rewarding the websites that have been providing value to their audience with their content.
The “Small” Update – September 27, 2018:
September 27, 2018, on Google’s 20th Birthday when The “Small” Update released. People reportedly called it a minor update because earlier than the Broad Core Algorithm Update released, it impacted many websites. In contrast, this update had no significant update except for some fluctuations in the traffic of some websites. This update also proved to be fruitful as some sites which, earlier faced penalty in the last Broad Core Algorithm Update had recovered.
Unconfirmed Halloween Update – October 31, 2018:
During the Halloween of 2018, there were again reports of fluctuations in the traffic of websites. These fluctuations were in the form of spikes and falls in the number of people visiting the websites. This was also a strange update, as there was no evidence proving its occurrence. This could be just a rumour after the August update as well.
Valentine’s Day Update – February 13, 2019:
Another update released the day before Valentine’s Day on February 13, 2019. This was a breath of fresh air for many websites instead of seeing a fall, and their ranking experienced a significant increase.
The Florida 2 update – March 12, 2019:
This was another Broad Core Algorithm Update with various changes, focusing on nothing specific. However, this update had a lot of noise as it was regarded as the Florida 2 update because before its rollout, Google referred to it as the biggest update in years.
The Featured Snippets Update – August 1, 2019:
This update launched on August 1, 2019, and focused on Featured Snippets. These are highlighted text extracts from the contents of websites. These snippets can have relevant information in the form of not only text but in list, table and video form. The position zero of a website displays these snippets. This update enabled Google to find the latest information for these snippets providing utmost value to the user.
The BERT Update – October 25, 2019:
Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, also known as the Bert Update released on October 25, 2019. This update helped Google to better comprehend search queries from users. In return, this boosted Google’s ability to provide more relevant search results and featured snippets for the user’s search queries. Google introduced this update as the biggest update in the past five years.
The BERT (Worldwide) Update – December 9, 2019:
This update made the previously released BERT update available for countries outside the US that spoke different languages than English.
The languages that they covered in the update were:
Arabic, Armenian, Azeri,Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic,
Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian,
Catalan, Chinese (Simplified & Taiwan), Croatian, Czech,
Farsi, Finnish, French,
Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati,
Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian,
Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian,
Kannada, Kazakh, Khmer, Korean, Kurdish, Kyrgyz,
Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian,
Maltese, Marathi, Mongolian, Macedonian Malay (Brunei Darussalam & Malaysia), Malayalam,
Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi,
Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Serbian, Sinhalese, Slovak,
Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish,
Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, and Vietnamese.
The Featured Snippet Deduplication – January 22, 2020:
On January 22, 2020 launched another update. This update focused entirely on the Featured Snippet section. This update restricted the repetition of information from web pages appearing in the Featured Snippet’s section among the organic listings of the first Search Engine Results Page.
The Passage Ranking Update – February 10, 2021:
The update, launched on February 10, 2021, added another ranking factor for the content of websites. This ranking factor was based on the passages of the content. Though many misunderstood, Google verified that this doesn’t eliminate the page ranking factor. The ranking of the pages switched to the same way as before. But now Google has the ability to rank passages as well. This will revolutionize the demand for quality throughout the content.
The Product Reviews Update – April 8, 2021:
This update raised the value of detailed and informative product reviews. The product reviews, now ranked based on how much information they provided on the product, unlike earlier when even reviews with poor quality also displayed in top positions. The COVID-19 pandemic created an emergence of the need for online shopping. This, in turn, helped the e-commerce industry and people who regularly shop online. Google, as a guide, shared nine questions that any product review must answer to raise its chances of a good ranking.
The Known Victims Protection Update – June 10, 2021:
The Known Victims Protection algorithm update focused on penalizing sites that performed predatory practices to warn profit. Google took precautionary measures, and created a system for reporting cases of such online harassment. This aimed to benefit many victims of such exploits.
The Page Experience Update – June 15, 2021:
Another Page Experience Update came after a long time on June 15, 2021. This update didn’t affect any websites significantly. Even if any websites see a sudden change in their ranking or traffic, it will resolve automatically once the update rolls out completely. The update aimed to complete in around 45 days.
The June 2021 Spam Update – June 23, 2021:
As the name suggests, this update focused on reducing spam results. This launched on June 23, 2021, followed by another instalment on June 28, 2021.
The Google Link Spam Algorithm Update – July 26, 2021:
This update, after a long time, was an offensive move against Black Hat SEO practitioners on the part of Google. This update focused on punishing Backlink practitioners. Websites that use such tactics to boost their ranking will significantly fall in their affiliate, sponsored and guest content rankings.
Google Spam Update – November 3, 2021:
Another Google Spam update rolled out between November 3, 2021, and November 11, 2021. This update also aimed at reducing spam links and content practices, and it also improved the google search results.
Broad Core Update – November 17, 2021:
This update was nothing different on the part of changes than any Broad Core Algorithm update. However, Google released information on what the Broad Core Algorithm Updates are about through documents. This would have been very useful to the Digital Marketing experts worldwide, including Vxplore Technologies, which offers the Best SEO Packages in India.
November 2021 Local Search Update – November 30, 2021:
The Best Local SEO Company, Vxplore Technologies, mentions that they got many requests for their Best Local SEO Packages after the update on November 30, 2021. They thanked Google for this update. As this update focused on updating the Local Search ranking, and this forced the businesses to focus on their Local SEO rankings. By now, most companies have realized how crucial Local SEO is to maximize profit.
The Page Experience Update – February 22, 2022:
The recent updates launched from Google Algorithm came with sufficient information for the experts and developers. This information released on different problems. Similar to The Page Experience update released on February 22, 2022.
March 2022 Product Algorithm Update – March 23, 2022:
The algorithm got an update on March 23, 2022, focusing on improving the ability of Google to differentiate high-quality reviews from inferior ones. This again raised a need for posting informative reviews if you want your review to be increasingly visible to others.
May 2022 Core Update – May 22, 2022:
There were many updates that rolled out to rank the websites. These updates rolled out between May 22, 2022, and June 9, 2022.
A series of updates released after this, providing information on how to write quality reviews and content. Users can read such informative guidelines on the Search Central Blog.
Helpful Content Update – August 25, 2022:
The Helpful Content Update started rolling out on August 25, 2022, and continued until September 9th, 2022. The algorithm has gone through changes in these 15 days to target the websites that are posting content with the primary aim of higher ranking. Google has recommended sites to post high-quality content in order to help the searchers. Google targets to deliver quality content upon every search query. Websites now should prioritize human-first content instead of search engine-first content.
September 2022 Product Review Update – September 20, 2022:
Google started rolling out their Product Review Algorithm Update on September 20, 2022. This update aims to target the low-quality product reviews on pages. If your page doesn’t post product reviews then it will likely see no impact. The update is still rolling out and will likely complete within a week of its launch. This is not a core update but another in the series of small updates launched previously as well.
However experts at Vxplore Technologies have determined that this update might create a substantial impact on pages that post product reviews. The experts think this way as the previously released Helpful Content Update, if paired with this update can affect pages drastically. You will likely notice its effects once the update has completely rolled out.
Google, over the span of years, has released many updates and changed hundreds of things in its algorithm. All these changes reduced the number of Black Hat SEO practitioners and punished them. This provided a better search experience to the users.
One of the Best Digital Marketing Companies in India, namely Vxplore Technologies, always ensures staying updated with these changes. This helps them provide the Best SEO Services included in their Best SEO Packages. If you are searching for Best SEO Services, you must contact Vxplore Technologies in Kolkata, India.