A Quick History of Google Algorithm Updates

Google’s search algorithms are ever-changing to create a better user experience for casual Internet surfers. Google’s algorithms are improved at least 500 to 600 times a year, making it difficult for the SEO community and websites to stay at the top of Search engine results pages (SERPs). Below is a brief history on some of the major updates Google has done to their algorithm over the last six years.

2011 Panda: originally designed to filter out websites with low-quality content and de-rank them so that they would appear less often on SERPs. Panda was added to the core Google algorithm by 2016 with Panda 4.0.

2012 Penguin: improved on Panda’s de-ranking algorithm but focused more on de-ranking sites with spam content that resulted in manipulative clicks. Penguin would search a web page, and it’s associated linked content to confirm that the website is not buying or stuffing links to boost Google ranking.

2013 Humming Bird: improved search results by understanding users queries, instead of relying on keywords, and produced more relevant results. Before Humming Bird, Google’s algorithm relied on keywords, which websites could use to drive traffic by keyword stuffing their content.

2014 Pigeon: placed more importance on local search results and put high-quality links at the top of SERPs. The local algorithm better connected Google maps and the core search engine, which dramatically altered return queries on both platforms.

2015 Mobile Friendly Updates: displayed mobile-friendly sites at the top of mobile SERPs. This update gave a rank boost to websites that optimized their pages for mobile viewing.

2015 Rank Brain: delivered better search results based on relevance and machine learning. Rank Brain builds on Humming Bird’s algorithm, but the use of machine learning allows Google searches to gain a better understanding and decipher the meaning behind a user’s query.

2016 Unnamed algorithm: The SEO community refers to the newest Google update as Possum. The local algorithm prioritizes search results by user location. Businesses saw an increase to their website ranking after the implementation.

Google is continuously updating their algorithm to create the best user experience. Each of their updates targets and eliminates spam sites, low-quality content and more, to bring the best out of the web.