Major Google Algorithm Updates for the Past 6 Years

Google updates its ranking algorithm almost every day. Some are just tiny tweaks while some stir up the SERPs. This guide will help you understand the major changes and penalties implemented in the recent years.


  1. Panda

Panda was launched in 2011 in order to address user-generated spam, plagiarized content, and duplicates. It was just a filter at first, but was officially integrated into the core algorithm in 2016. It assigns a quality score to every web page which serves as basis for its ranking. Rollouts now occur more frequently resulting to more penalties and recoveries.

Adapt to this update by regularly checking your site for thin content, duplication, and keyword stuffing. Tools like CopyScape and Website Auditor are quite useful.


  1. Penguin

Google performed an update called the Penguin in 2012. It was meant to target irrelevant links or links with over-optimized anchor text. It down-ranks web pages that have manipulative links.

Avoid getting down-ranked by using a back link checker such as the SEO Spyglass. Monitor the Penalty Risk column for links that have a score of higher than 50%. Look for any irregular spikes in your sites progress graph.


  1. Hummingbird

The Hummingbird update was implemented in 2013 which deals with low-quality content and keyword stuffing. It helps in interpreting search queries accurately. It gives results that address the searcher’s intent instead of the keywords used in the query.

Hummingbird makes it possible to rank a page higher even if it doesn’t contain the keywords used in the query.

Make sure that your page doesn’t get left behind by expanding keyword research. Concentrate on concepts instead of keywords. Maximize the use of Google auto-complete and Google related searches to understand your target audience better.


  1. Pigeon

The Pigeon update was done in 2014. It affects searches that are dependent on the location of the user. It creates a closer relationship between the core algorithm and local algorithm. As an effect, traditional SEO factors are being utilized to rank local results.

Adjust to this update by investing in on- and off-page optimization. Try performing an on-page analysis using WebSite Auditor. Get your page listed in business directories to help your web page get a higher rank.


  1. Mobile

If your page doesn’t have a mobile version or is not optimized for mobile use, then be wary of this next update. Google implemented the Mobile update or the Mobilegeddon in 2015. It boosts the rank of mobile-friendly web pages. The pages that are not optimized for mobile use will be down-ranked or filtered out from the SERPs.

There is no other way to overcome this but to invest in going mobile. The WebSite Auditor can help you determine the speed and usability of your web page.


  1. Rank Brain

Rank Brain was also launched in 2015. It is meant to address poor UX and shallow content. It is a part of the Hummingbird algorithm. It assists Google in determining the meaning behind each query. A response that best matches the query will be provided. It is considered as the 3rd most important factor for ranking pages.

Improve the comprehensiveness and relevance of your web page by subjecting it to competitive analysis. The TF-IDF tool of the WebSite Auditor can help identify the terms and concepts that are regularly used by competitors.


  1. Possum

In 2016, the Possum update was released. It eases up the tense competition in the target location of web page owners. It checks that the search results will vary depending on the location of the searcher. This means that a particular business will rank higher if you live near its address. This will greatly benefit businesses that are situated outside the city.

You should update your keyword list and perform location-specific tracking. Use Rank Tracker to check the status of your webpage with regards to your target location.


  1. Fred

Fred is the most recent Google algorithm update. It was launched in March 2017. It targets web pages that don’t follow Google’s webmaster guidelines. Blogs that contain low-quality content and were meant for ad revenues only are the ones that are most affected.

Go over the Google Search Quality Guidelines and check if your web page is compliant. Make sure that each page provides useful information aside from ads. It should not be packed with affiliate links only.

Check if your website is affected by any of these updates and make adjustments!You can actually know if one of the updates affected your organic traffic. All you need to do is make a project with Rank Tracker. Just click “Update Traffic”, give your Google Analytics credentials, and then go to “Organic Traffic”. Make adjustments depending on the results you get as soon as possible.

Major Google Algorithm Updates for the Past 6 Years, must-read news and in-depth analysis about search engine technology

Leave a Comment

You are in good company:

Over 300 partners – Serving over 25,000 businesses – Quality prices


Contact Us

Got a question? Let us know and we'll get back to you asap!

Start typing and press Enter to search

mobile ready contentBusiness Management Consultant