Google Algorithm History


At High Position our technical search team are continually researching and monitoring changes within search and, with 500+ Google algorithm changes each year, that’s no easy feat!

Most algorithmic changes are minor and go unnoticed to the untrained eye, but SEO’s and search marketers will understand that these updates may significantly impact search rankings, search traffic, and ultimately ROI.

Monitoring search flux, analysing update impact on SERPs, and reforming search strategy, as well as education our customers, form the day to day role of the High Position technical team. Whilst most SEO’s and those who fear Google will sulk at yet another change and hold their heads in despair, our SEO geeks love nothing more than getting their technical brains wrapped around an update.

Below is a historical timeline of the Google algorithmic search changes (that we’re are of!). We’d also recommend the following people / websites to follow to keep yourselves up to date!

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Recommended Blogs…

Algorithm Update Timeline

2015 Updates
Hacked Spam
5th October 2015

The “Hacked Spam” update is an algorithmic changes targeting hacked spam within search results, estimated to impact ~5% of search queries.

An update on how we tackle hacked spam (Google Webmaster Blog)

Panda 4.2
18th/19th July 2015

Almost 10 months after Panda 4.1 Google confirmed to Search Engine Land the slow rollout of Panda 4.2 estimated to impact ~2-3% of English language queries. According to Search Engine Land the update will take months to roll out therefore winners/losers may not see immediate impact.

Google Panda 4.2 Is Here; Slowly Rolling Out (Search Engine Land)

Google Panda Update Coming In Upcoming Weeks (Search Engine Land)

Unnamed Core Algorithm Update
17th June 2015

Confirmation of an update to the core algorithm following industry speculation surrounding SERP flux.

Google Core Algorithm Change: Not Panda, Not Penguin & Not HTTPS (Search Engine Roundtable)

Google Update Happening? Maybe Panda About To Kick Off? (Search Engine Roundtable)

The Quality Update
3rd May 2015

After much speculation Google confirmed the release of an algorithmic change dubbed ‘The Quality Update’, initial thought by many to be Panda related. Although no specific details were revealed Google said the change affected the core ranking algorithm and how it processes quality signals.

Google Confirm ‘The Quality Update’ (Search Engine Land)

Google’s ‘phantom’ algorithm update hits websites (CNBC)

Google Deny Panda Update (Search Engine Roundtable)

Possible Panda Update (Search Engine Roundtable)

Mobile-Friendliness as a Ranking Signal
21st April 2015

In an unprecedented announcement Google pre-announced a major algorithm change for mobile search results. Dubbed ‘Mobilegeddon’ the mobile-friendly update is in essence an algorithmic changes designed to reward mobile-friendly web pages. The implied reward is delivered in the form of a ranking boost to mobile-friendly web pages within Google’s mobile search results.

What you NEED to know about Google's Mobile Friendly Algorithm Update (High Position)

Finding More Mobile-Friendly Search Results (Google Webmaster Central Blog)

What Is Mobilegeddon & The Google Mobile Friendly Update (Search Engine Land)

After Mobilegeddon: How Far Did the Sky Fall? (Moz)

Doorway Page Update
16th March 2015

Google announced an update to the way in which Google handles doorway pages as “coming soon” on 16th March.

The roll out was confirmed by Google’s John Mueller on 24th April.

An Update on Doorway Pages (Google Webmaster Central Blog)

The Doorway Algorithm Did Launch (Search Engine Roundtable)

Unconfirmed Update
4th February 2015

Google Brand-eCommerce “Update” Causing Fluctuations (Search Metrics)

2014 Updates
Pigeon Update Rolls Out To UK, Canada & Australia
22nd December 2014

Pigeon Update Rolls Out To UK, Canada & Australia (Search Engine Land)

Pirate 2.0
21st October 2014

Google Finally Releasing New “Pirate Update” To Fight Piracy (Search Engine Land)

Penguin 3.0
17th October 2014

Confirmed as still rolling out on 28th November 2014

Confirmed: Google Penguin 3.0 Released (Search Engine Roundtable)

Google Confirms Penguin Rollout Continued Into Thanksgiving Day (Search Engine Roundtable)

Panda 4.1
26th September 2014

Slow rollout commencing earlier W/C 22nd September

Panda 4.1 Slow Rollout Commences (High Position)

Authorship Removed from Search
28th August 2014

Authorship Removed from Search (John Mueller, Google+)

HTTPS/SSL as a Ranking Signal
6th August 2014

HTTPS Now a Ranking Signal (High Position)

Local Search Algorithm Update (AKA “Pigeon”)
24th July 2014

Google “Pigeon” Updates Local Search Algorithm (Search Engine Land)

Removal of Authorship Photos from SERPS
25th June 2014

Removal of Authorship Photos from SERPS (John Mueller, Google+)

Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0
12th June 2014

Google Spam Algorithm Version 3.0 Launches (Search Engine Roundtable)

Panda 4.0
20th May 2014

Google Panda 4.0 Roll-Out Confirmed (High Position)

Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0
17th/18th May 2014

Google Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0 Roll-Out Confirmed (High Position)

Page Layout Algorithm #3
6th February 2014

Google Updates Its Page Layout Algorithm (Search Engine Land)

2013 Updates
Authorship Shake-up
19th December 2013


Penguin 2.1
4th October 2013

Penguin 2.1 Launched (High Position)

Panda 26
18th July 2013

Google Panda Now More Finely Targeted (High Position)

Penguin 2.0 (4)
22nd May 2013

Penguin 2.0 Update (High Position)

Domain Crowding Update
21st May 2013

Domain Crowding Update (High Position)

Panda 25 (date/impact unconfirmed)
15th March 2013


Panda 24
23rd January 2013

Google Panda Update 24 (High Position)

2012 Updates
Panda 3.9.2
27th September 2012

Official Panda Refresh: Version 3.9.2 (Search Engine Roundtable)

EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update
27th September 2012

A change to the way Google handles exact-match domains (EMDs).

Google’s EMD Update - The Numbers (High Position)

Panda 3.9.1
20th August 2012

Google Panda 3.9.1 Update On August 20th (Search Engine Roundtable)

7-Result SERPs
14th August 2012

Search quality highlights: 86 changes for June and July (Google Inside Search)

DMCA Penalty
10th August 2012

An Update to Our Search Algorithms (Google Inside Search)

Panda 3.9
24th July 2012

Google Panda 3.9 Refresh Live (Search Engine Roundtable)

Panda 3.8
25th June 2012

Google Panda 3.8 Refresh June 25th (Search Engine Roundtable)

Panda 3.7
8th June 2012

Google Panda 3.7 Refresh Official (Search Engine Roundtable)

Penguin 1.1 (2)
25th May 2012

Google Releases Penguin Update 2 (Search Engine Land)

Initial roll out of “Knowledge Graph”
16th May 2012

Introducing the Knowledge Graph (Google Official Blog)

Panda 3.6
27th April 2012

Confirmed: Panda Update 3.6 Happened On April 27th (Search Engine Land)

Penguin Update
24th April 2012

Another step to reward high-quality sites (Google Webmaster Central Blog)

Panda 3.5
19th April 2012

Google Panda 3.5 Update: The One We Missed (Search Engine Roundtable)

Panda 3.4
23rd March 2012

Google Says Panda 3.4 Is ‘Rolling Out Now’ (Search Engine Land)

Panda 3.3
27th February 2012

Google Confirms Panda 3.3 Update (Search Engine Land)

Venice Update
27th February 2012

Understand and Rock the Google Venice Update (Moz)

Page Layout Algorithm Update 1
19th January 2012

Page layout algorithm improvement (Google Inside Search)

Panda 3.2
18th January 2012

Google Panda 3.2 Update Confirmed (Search Engine Land)

Launch of Search + Your World
10th January 2012

Search, plus Your World (Google Official Blog)

2011 Updates
Panda 3.1
18th November 2011

Google Panda 3.1 Update (Search Engine Roundtable)

SERP Freshness Update
3rd November 2011

Giving you fresher, more recent search results (Google Official Blog)

Encryption of Search Queries
18th October 2011

Making search more secure (Google Official Blog)

Panda Fluctuation
5th October 2011

Panda Update 3.0 Live & Panda “Flux” (Search Engine Land)

Panda 2.5
28th September 2011

Confirmed: Google Panda 2.5 Update Arrived This Week (Search Engine Land)

Expanded Sitelinks for Branded Search Queries
16th August 2011

The evolution of sitelinks: expanded and improved (Google Inside Search)

Panda 2.4 (Panda Rolls Out Globally)
12th August 2011

High-quality sites algorithm launched in additional languages (Google Webmaster Central Blog)

Panda 2.3
23rd July 2011

Official: Google Panda 2.3 Update Is Live (Search Engine Land)

The Launch of Google+
28th June 2011

Introducing the Google+ project: Real-life sharing, rethought for the web (Google Official Blog)

Panda 2.2
21st June 2011

Official: Google Panda Update 2.2 Is Live (Search Engine Land) / Rich Snippet Support
2nd June 2011

Google, Bing & Yahoo Unite To Make Search Listings Richer Through Structured Data (Search Engine Land)

Panda 2.1
9th May 2011

It’s Panda Update 2.1, Not Panda 3.0, Google Says (Search Engine Land)

Panda 2
11th April 2011

High-quality sites algorithm goes global, incorporates user feedback (Google Webmaster Central Blog)

Launch of the +1 Button
30th March 2011

Introducing the +1 button (Google Webmaster Central Blog)

Panda/Farmer Update
23rd February 2011

Finding more high-quality sites in search (Google Official Blog)

Attribution Update
28th January 2011

Algorithm change launched (Matt Cutts)

2010 Updates
Confirmed Use of Social Signals from Twitter & Facebook
December 2010

Google Webmaster Video Reconfirms Use Of Social Signals (Search Engine Land)

Action Against Negative Reviews
December 2010

Being bad to your customers is bad for business (Google Official Blog)

Introduction of Instant Previews in SERPS
November 2010

Beyond Instant results: Instant Previews (Google Official Blog)

Google Instant Launched
September 2010

About Google Instant (Google)

Caffeine Infrastructure Rollout
June 2010

Our new search index: Caffeine (Google Official Blog)

May Day Update
May 2010

Video: Google’s Matt Cutts On May Day Update (Search Engine Roundtable)

Google Places Launched
April 2010

Introducing Google Places (Google Official Blog)

2009 Updates
Real-time Search
December 2009

Relevance meets the real-time web (Google Official Blog)

Caffeine Preview Released
August 2009

Help test some next-generation infrastructure (Google Webmaster Central Blog)

Vince Brand Update
February 2009

Google’s Vince Update Produces Big Brand Rankings (Search Engine Land)

2008 Updates
Google Suggest
August 2008 Finally Gets Google Suggest Feature (Search Engine Land)

Dewey Update
April 2008

Google Update Dewey - Google Confirms Algorithm Change (Search Engine Land)

2007 Updates
Buffy Update
June 2007

Google “Buffy” Update (Search Engine Roundtable)

Universal Search Launched
May 2007

Universal Search: The best answer is still the best answer (Google Official Blog)

2006 Updates
Supplemental SERP Update
November 2006

Confusion Over Google’s Supplemental Index (Search Engine Roundtable)

2005 Updates
Big Daddy Update
December 2005

Indexing timeline (Matt Cutts)

Jagger Update
October 2005

Google Jagger Update is Official (Search Engine Journal)

Google Local/Maps
October 2005

Google Merges Local and Maps Products (News From Google)

Gilligan Update/Change
September 2005

Google’s Cutts Says Not An Update - I Say An Update, Just Not A Dance (Search Engine Watch)

Personalised Search Launched
June 2005

Search Gets Personal (Google Official Blog)

Bourbon Update/Change
May 2005

WebmasterWorld Names Google Update; Bourbon (Search Engine Roundtable)

Allegra Update/Change
February 2005

Google’s Feb. 2005 Update (Search Engine Watch)

Introduction of the Nofollow Attribute
January 2005

Preventing comment spam (Google Official Blog)

2004 Updates
Brandy Updates
February 2004

Google’s Brandy Update Exposed (Web Pro News)

Austin Updates
January 2004

The latest on update Austin (Google’s January update) (Search Engine Journal)

2003 Updates
Florida Update
November 2003

What Happened To My Site On Google? (Search Engine Watch)

Supplemental Index Introduced
September 2003

Search Engine Size Wars & Google’s Supplemental Results (Search Engine Watch)

Fritz Update
July 2003


Esmerelda Update
June 2003

Google Update Esmeralda (Kuro5hin)

Dominic Update
May 2003

Understanding Dominic (WebmasterWorld)

Cassandra Update
April 2003

Cassandra: Google update algo analysis thread. (WebmasterWorld)

Boston Update
February 2003

UPDATE! Google Feb/March 2003 - The Boston Update! (WebmasterWorld)

2002 Updates
The First Documented Google Update
September 2002


2000 Updates
Google Toolbar and Toolbar PageRank (TBPR) Launch
December 2000

Google Launches The Google Toolbar (News From Google)


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