History of Google Algorithm Updates

What are Google Algorithms?

Google’s algorithms are a complex system used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results for a query. The search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

In its early years, Google only made a handful of updates to its algorithms. Now, Google makes thousands of changes every year.

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Most of these updates are so slight that they go completely unnoticed. However, on occasion, the search engine rolls out major algorithmic updates that significantly impact the SERPs such as:

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Below we have compiled a full list of Google algorithm launches, updates, and refreshes that have rolled out over the years, as well as links to resources for SEO professionals who want to understand each of these changes.

Google Algorithm Updates & Changes: A Complete History
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All 2014 Updates

October 17, 2014

Penguin Update 3.0

Though named like a major update, this was actually another data refresh of Google’s Penguin algorithm. Penguin 3.0 allowed those impacted by previous updates to emerge and recover, while many others who had continued to utilize spammy link practices, and had escaped the radar of the previous updates, saw an impact. The update took about three days to fully rollout and impacted less than 1 percent of English search queries.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Penguin Algorithm Update

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September 23, 2014

Panda Update 4.1 (#27)

Google’s Pierre Far announced that this update to the Panda algorithm added “a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely.” It impacted 3 to 5 percent of queries.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

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July 24, 2014

Pigeon Update

Pigeon was a significant local search update that saw Google start using more traditional website ranking signals to influence local search results. It also improved Google’s distance and location ranking parameters.

Read: How the Google Pigeon Update Changed Local Search Results

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June 12, 2014

Payday Loan Update 3.0

Google’s Payday Loan update 3.0, which largely was focused on targeting spammy queries, also included better protection against negative SEO attacks.

Read: What You Need to Know About the Google Payday Loan Algorithm Update

Read: Google Begins Rollout Of Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0 Today

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May 20, 2014

Panda Update 4.0 (#26)

Google’s Matt Cutts announced Panda 4.0, a major update to the algorithm impacting 7.5 percent of English queries.

Read: A Complete Guide to the Google Panda Update

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May 16, 2014

Payday Loan Update 2.0

This was the “next generation” of Google’s Payday Loans algorithm, updated to better target spammy websites.

Read: What You Need to Know About the Google Payday Loan Algorithm Update

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February 6, 2014

Page Layout Refresh

Google’s Matt Cutts announced a refresh of the page layout algorithm. No changes to the algorithm were mentioned – it appeared Google simply reran the algorithm and updated its index.

Read: Google Page Layout Algorithm: Everything You Need to Know

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