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Featuring the most recent additions to the blog, covering the likes of data, digital and SEO.

This page details the background of the author, Harry Austen, as well as provided key proficiencies.

If you have a question or would like to connect via email, please read this page.

Collection of vibrant, punchy and imaginative thumbnail artwork throughout the years.

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This section of the blog features articles to accompany your morning dose of caffeine, quick and easy.

On the other side of the blog is this category, which instead includes technical knowledge and usually a confusing block of code (R, Python).

If you're new to the industry, fear not - this topic will serve you greatly in learning the ropes with basic walk-throughs and tutorials.

This single page breaks down the historic Google algorithm updates of our time.

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General site policy and note on how this website collects data.

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In a transparent nature, this pages documents updates to ensure users feel comfortable and understand noticeable changes.

Follow

General

Featuring the most recent additions to the blog, covering the likes of data, digital and SEO.

This page details the background of the author, Harry Austen, as well as provided key proficiencies.

If you have a question or would like to connect via email, please read this page.

Collection of vibrant, punchy and imaginative thumbnail artwork throughout the years.

Blog

This section of the blog features articles to accompany your morning dose of caffeine, quick and easy.

On the other side of the blog is this category, which instead includes technical knowledge and usually a confusing block of code (R, Python).

If you're new to the industry, fear not - this topic will serve you greatly in learning the ropes with basic walk-throughs and tutorials.

This single page breaks down the historic Google algorithm updates of our time.

Legal

General site policy and note on how this website collects data.

More

In a transparent nature, this pages documents updates to ensure users feel comfortable and understand noticeable changes.

Register your account for updates and access to premium content.

Please accept the Terms and Conditions to proceed.

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Follow

General

Featuring the most recent additions to the blog, covering the likes of data, digital and SEO.

This page details the background of the author, Harry Austen, as well as provided key proficiencies.

If you have a question or would like to connect via email, please read this page.

Collection of vibrant, punchy and imaginative thumbnail artwork throughout the years.

Blog

This section of the blog features articles to accompany your morning dose of caffeine, quick and easy.

On the other side of the blog is this category, which instead includes technical knowledge and usually a confusing block of code (R, Python).

If you're new to the industry, fear not - this topic will serve you greatly in learning the ropes with basic walk-throughs and tutorials.

This single page breaks down the historic Google algorithm updates of our time.

Legal

General site policy and note on how this website collects data.

More

In a transparent nature, this pages documents updates to ensure users feel comfortable and understand noticeable changes.

Follow

General

Featuring the most recent additions to the blog, covering the likes of data, digital and SEO.

This page details the background of the author, Harry Austen, as well as provided key proficiencies.

If you have a question or would like to connect via email, please read this page.

Collection of vibrant, punchy and imaginative thumbnail artwork throughout the years.

Blog

This section of the blog features articles to accompany your morning dose of caffeine, quick and easy.

On the other side of the blog is this category, which instead includes technical knowledge and usually a confusing block of code (R, Python).

If you're new to the industry, fear not - this topic will serve you greatly in learning the ropes with basic walk-throughs and tutorials.

This single page breaks down the historic Google algorithm updates of our time.

Legal

General site policy and note on how this website collects data.

More

In a transparent nature, this pages documents updates to ensure users feel comfortable and understand noticeable changes.

Register your account for updates and access to premium content.

Please accept the Terms and Conditions to proceed.

Google Algorithm Updates ​

There’s certainly been a lot of change with Google over the past nine years, since 2011, let alone with their algorithm. This page is aimed to get you up to speed. The first section includes a snapshot in time, from 2011’s Panda update to a more recent 2019 update, ‘BERT’. Core Web Vitals has been omitted (below) in the graphic.

Google Algorithm updates through the years.
Since 2011, Google, both algorithmically and generally, have seen a lot of change. If you look closely, the patterns to where we are now and where we are heading have been obvious from the start.
Harry Austen
Harry Austen

by Harry Austen

Published Dec. 17, 2021 GMT

Updated March. 10, 2021 GMT

To caveat, this page only contains updates that have produced a significant amount of change to Search. Daily updates and rumours or unconfirmed updates are not added. 

Panda Google Algorithm Update

Panda, 2011

The Panda update attempted to deal with websites that were gaming the system. In other words, determining sites that were genuinely offering information related to a search term (and more importantly, which were not.) This update directly affected sites that mainly existed to link externally, like affiliate sites, and sites that had a small amount of content. This was truly the birth of Google shaping the way webmasters write content and, for better or worse, the update was rolled out again in 2016 (which features below.)

  • Punished sites, such as affiliates, which solely featured outbound links to game the system.
  • Targeted sites with a limited amount of content.
  • The Panda update was also featured in the 2016 core algorithm update.
  • This was the first of, as we know, many updates that fundamentally changed the way webmasters interact with their website, and therefore, how users interact with a website.
Pirate Google Algorithm Update

Pirate, 2012

To help fight against the spreading of illegal and copyrighted content, sites didn’t have an option to report and support from Google. That changed when Google rolled out its Pirate update. With DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown requestions, essentially legal footing to force the stealing party to remove content they don’t own.

  • Duplicating content that has been copyrighted or is illegal was forbidden and weighted as a negative ranking factor.
  • In other words, for the first time, Google stood in the way, in a legal sense, of content being duplicated.
  • This initially caused issued with single-owned content being distributed across multiple domains.
Hummingbird Google Algorithm Update

Hummingbird, 2013

“It’s the year of voice” — not really! The Hummingbird update started laying the framework for voice-search and, in practical terms, pays a larger focus on the individual keywords of a query to understand further and test the construct of how a query and intent (what a user is searching for) works.

  • Albeit of minimal importance for webmasters, the update helped in building the mindset for readable and natural-sounding language in content.
  • To rank, but not over-compensate (or over-optimize) when building a webpage was to be the new normal.
Pigeon Google Algorithm Update

Pigeon, 2013

Focusing again on local-SEO, this time under a different bird name, Pigeon, there was more attention given to the locational results in pages and Google Maps. Offering ‘results near you’, and suggestions of that nature, this was a slight turning point for the value placed on how authority works in the context of how local you are in response to a query. In other words, a local shop may now beat a megastore with larger authority, seeing as Google deemed that the later was more relevant to the intent of the user based on location.

  • Giving new hope to more local-specific niche websites, Google now put weight into localized searches.
HTTPS Google Algorithm Update

HTTPS/SSL, 2014

To underline the importance of security, Google decided to give a small ranking boost to sites that correctly implemented HTTPS to make the connection between website and user secure. At the time, HTTPS was introduced as a lightweight ranking signal. But Google had already hinted at the possibility of making encryption more important, once webmasters had had the time to implement it.

  • This Google algorithm update helped boost rankings for a short period of time, for those quick to take action. Although, the company did stress that webmasters had time to implement the change. And some, more archaic organisations like EPSN, took that time.
Mobile Google Algorithm Update

Mobile Update, 2015

In what was dubbed ‘Mobilegeddon’, for its pure shock to the industry, this update paved the way for what was coming with mobile. The update, which webmasters expected to cause a paradigm shift in rankings, signalled that a sites mobile experience was more important than that on desktop. Additionally, websites that were mobile-friendly should be deemed in higher regard and thusly, an official ranking factor was established. In a piece written in the same year (impeccable timing), Google announced for the first time ever that Mobile beat Desktop in yearly searches in 10 countries.

  • Some may argue or think that this update was ahead of its time, but Google’s job is ahead of the market.
  • The update didn’t cause a cultural shift in rankings, but was befitting of the new cultural dominance of mobile search and came at a time that we’re still living up to this day.

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Continue reading about Google Algorithm updates...

RankBrain Google Algorithm Update

RankBrain, 2015

This Google algorithm update is as much as an upgrade to search as it is to the company apparatus in better understanding queries, leaning on machine learning that analysed past searches to guess missing or incorrect words, for example. All this for a better search experience, as well as a new bolt on the large engine of the algorithm.

  • Google announced it was a ranking signal. However, unlike an actionable rule such as PageSpeed, other than writing quality content, there isn’t a whole lot you can do that affect how you score.
Possum Google Algorithm Update

Possum, 2016

Local yet again took centre stage for this update, which applied new local ranking filters to local search. In a more varied view of local searches, results again became more varied in the sense of physical locations and keyword phrasing. This update helped underperforming sites rank for local queries in a big way.

  • This again indicated Google’s impenitence when ranking a local business above a well-established and overall better (Organic) performing site.
  • The slightest of variations in search started to make a huge difference.
  • Updating your Google My Business page seemed to correlate with an improvement following (or alongside) the Possum update.
Medic Google Algorithm Update Mobile

Medic, 2018

In a controversial update, and one of the largest on public record, Medic rolled out new updates primarily affecting medical websites, hence the odd title. Although covering one market of thousands (in not millions of niches) in medical studies, the update caused significant rankings shifts and was met with confusion and anger. It was later found that the update wasn’t just focused on ‘medic’ sites and the ultimate purpose for the update wasn’t (and still isn’t) entirely clear.

  • In one update that still has unanswered questions for both its purpose and target, it speaks to the control that Google can do in one fell swoop.
  • While it is clear that medical sites (and others) were invariably affected, it’s unsure if the company made any attempts to alter those rankings in future updates.
Bert Google Algorithm Update Mobile

BERT, 2019

The biggest change in the “last five years”, came in the form of BERT. Webmasters were informed that one in ten searched would be effected and measured based on its new interpretation machine learning processing. Fundamentally, natural language processing (NLP) can work out context, looking at words that fall before and after, rather than one-by-one.

  • This is one of many improvements in the same type of criterion: search intent.
  • Essentially, sharpening their algorithm to such a degree for greater ‘human levels’ of assessment.
Core Web Vitals, Google Algorithm Update

Core Web Vitals, 2020

Confirmed as an official ranking factor, the Core Web Vitals update took webmasters by surprise not least, because Google told us well advance of the change taking place. Conspiratorially, it is good news that folks have been informed and can take action. Notwithstanding the potential green flag, one would assume this update is large enough in scale to do damage (if the search engine is ensuring that most sites comply.)

New details on this update have recently been revealed.

The Google Algorithm updates above are subject to change. Please note all updates have been confirmed from Google.

This page is a collection of all significant algorithm updates. This section of the site, as it pertains to updates, may change in line with releases confirmed by Google.

Harry Austen is a Data & Search Analyst. He has worked with the likes of Disney, The Olympics and Zoopla. @austenharry  

This page may change periodically, as and when more information becomes available. Therefore, please remain patient if you are experiencing longer load times than normal. As this article is subject the above, please also be patient for immediate updates.  The Blog | Subscribe