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.

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:

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

All 2021 Updates

December 1, 2021

December 2021 Product Review Update

Google announced via the Google Search Central Twitter account that the December 2021 Product Review Update began rolling out for English language pages today, and is estimated to take three weeks to complete. They shared a link to a blog post on product review updates and your website for more information.

Read: Google December 2021 Product Review Update

November 30, 2021

November 2021 Local Search Update

Google announced via Twitter a November 2021 Local Search Update that began on November 30th and was completed on December 8th. Google also suggested that businesses review their guidance on how to improve local rankings.

Read: Google Confirms Update To Local Search Results

November 17, 2021

Broad Core Update

Google Search Central announced via Twitter that a broad core update would be released later that day. They referred webmasters to their documentation on what site owners need to know about core updates, last updated in August 2019.

Read: Google Launching November 2021 Broad Core Algorithm Update

Read: Google November Core Update Is Over – What Happened?

November 3, 2021

Google Spam Update

According to a tweet from Google Search Liasion, a spam update was rolled out from November 3 – 11, 2021 as a part of their regular work to improve search results. They suggested in their announcement that webmasters should continue following Webmaster Guidelines.

Read: Google Spam Update Done Rolling Out

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

Read: Google’s Link Spam Update Is Complete

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?

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

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

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

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

Read: Google Page Experience Update Fully Rolled Out – This is Why it Matters

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

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

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

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