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 factors 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 2021 Updates

July 26, 2021

Google Link Spam Algorithm Update

Google announced an algorithm update aimed at identifying and nullifying link spam was beginning to roll out. Google warned that any sites taking part in link spam tactics could see ranking changes – with sponsored, guest, and affiliate content most likely to be impacted. Google said the update should be fully rolled out in “at least” two weeks and will impact multiple languages.

Read: Google Link Spam Algorithm Update Rolling Out on July 26

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July 12, 2021

July 2021 Core Update Completed

Google Search Liaison confirmed via Twitter that the July 2021 Core Update rollout was effectively completed on July 12th. No additional details were provided.

Read: Google July 2021 Update is Over – What Happened?

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July 1, 2021

July 2021 Core Update

Google Search Liaison announced via Twitter the July 2021 Core Update is rolling out and will take one to two weeks to complete. Google’s guidance for core updates can be found on the Google Search Central Blog.

Read: Google July 2021 Core Update Begins Rolling Out

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June 28, 2021

Spam Update Part 2

Google Search Liaison announced via Twitter that the second part of their spam update has begun on June 28th and will likely be completed on the same day. The original announcement referred to a post on the Google Search Central Blog, updated in April 2021, on how Google fought Search spam in 2020.

Read: Google Announces Spam Update Part 2

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June 23, 2021

June 2021 Spam Update

Google’s Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter an algorithm update targeted at fighting spam was rolling out to search results. The rollout of the update was to be completed the same day. He added that a second spam update would follow within a week. Google revealed no specific details on what this update was targeting.

Read: Google Rolls Out New Spam Algorithm Update

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June 15, 2021

Page Experience Update

Google confirms its long-awaited Page Experience update has started rolling out. Sites should not expect to see drastic changes as a result of this update, Google says, and any sudden drops or spikes should be mitigated by the gradual rollout process. The rollout will be completed by the end of August 2021.

Read: Google Page Experience Update Begins Rolling Out

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June 10, 2021

Known Victims Protection

On June 10, Pandu Nayak,
Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, published a post on The Keyword blog. In it, he discussed Google’s work towards improving the algorithm to demote sites that “employ exploitative removals practices” and “predatory practices.” He also shared a link people can use to report online harassment.

Read: Google Algorithm Update Targets Slander

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June 2, 2021

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter that a broad core algorithm update was about to be released. Sullivan also noted that some planned improvements weren’t quite ready for this update, so the parts that weren’t ready will be rolled out as part of second, related broad core algorithm update, scheduled for July.

Read: Google Broad Core Algorithm Update Rolling Out June 2, 2021

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April 8, 2021

Product Reviews Update

This new search ranking algorithm update was designed to reward “product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products.” In their announcement, Google also shared nine useful questions to consider when creating and publishing product reviews.

Read: Google Product Reviews Update Goes Live in Search Results

Read: Google’s Product Reviews Algorithm Update: Winners & Losers

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February 10, 2021

Passage Ranking

Google’s Public Liaison for Search, Danny Sullivan, announced via Twitter that Passage Ranking officially launched for English-language queries in the United States. According to Google: “This change doesn’t mean we’re indexing individual passages independently of pages. We’re still indexing pages and considering info about entire pages for ranking. But now we can also consider passages from pages as an additional ranking factor….”

Read: What Is Google Passage Ranking: 16 Key Points You Should Know

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