Google Search Ranking Algorithm updates till date

In a nutshell:

Google has been regularly announcing updates to the new algorithms which factor in the ranking of the website and the webpages as per the Google SERP. In this post we will review the list and cover all such ranking algorithms announced by Google till date.


google algorithm updates

There are several updates

Google keeps formulating new algorithms, modifies the existing ones, deletes some of the algorithms which might not have added values and all of these are continuous process. It is important for you to stay updated with some of these changes as it may help you assess the factors to raise the ranking of your websites.

Majority of these algorithms are intended to improve the relevance of search results for the benefit of the user. But some are meant for penalizing websites sites or webpages that do not meet the required criteria and guidelines (For example, artificial backlinks or keyword stuffing).

Here is the bottom line:

  • Since April 21, 2015, Google expects your website to be mobile compatible, otherwise your ranking could be impacted greatly
  • Panda, a major Google algorithm, was last updated on July 18, 2015.
  • Penguin algorithm is a also another major Google algorithm. It has been not been updated for a long time. An update could be expected by the end of 2015.
  • Google encourages shifting to HTTPS version but the impact that it has on SEO is considerably low.
  • Google changed its algorithm in place against doorway pages. It is in place since about early May 2015

seo_algorithm1

List of key Google Search Engine algorithms

Here is a list, each with:

  • The name of the update
  • The date of last update
  • An overview

Hummingbird (Hummingbird)

  • This algorithm was formulated in September 2013
  • The emphasize mainly lies on semantic search. This is the most significant overhaul of Google’s search ranking algorithm. The goal is to understand both the indexed content and the user’s query in a better way so as to deliver the best results pertaining to what the user desires.

Payday loan

  • This algorithm was first released in 2012. The latest version i.e. v3 is dated to June 2014
  • It seeks to improve the quality of results, especially on some spam oriented queries (credit cards, casino, etc.)

Freshness

  • This algorithm dates back to November 2011
  • It aims to show the freshest and latest results i.e. recently updated content based on user queries

Mobile Compatibility

  • This algorithm was out on April 21, 2015.
  • The sites must be compatible mobile phones. It only applies to searches performed on mobile devices.
  • If a page is mobile compatible, it will be promoted in the mobile search results while the remaining websites will have have the lower-hand in terms of search positions. The algorithm works in a continuous manner – Every time the Google spiders crawl a page, it tests whether it is mobile compatible.

Panda

  • Released in 2011, it was last updated on July 7, 2015 but Google said that its existence could last long. As of November 5, 2015, Panda is still active.
  • Panda seeks to assess the quality of the sites; its algorithm makes use of machine learning using which it assesses the content of the pages as well as the behavior of Internet users.
  • The impact is on the whole website, but the lowest quality websites with low-value content are the ones that are suffering the most in Google SERP.

Exact Match Domain (EMD)

  • This algorithm was released in September 2012
  • It seeks to penalize websites with domain names consisting of just the keywords and very low value.

Penguin

  • Released in April 2012, the latest update was on 17th October, 2014 and it would be a while before the next major Penguin update is released.
  • It aims to penalize websites that have abused SEO techniques violating Google guidelines (also known as over-engine optimization). It is fundamentally the excessive use of artificial links pointing to the site.
  • The algorithm is not updated on regular basis.But Google says that it would increase the frequency of updates,  such that a release is made every month.

Pirate / DMCA Update

  • This algorithm was released in August 2012 and the second version was released in November 2014
  • It aims to take down and remove websites from search results that provide illegal download materials. Although I personally felt the effect of this update, as many of the illegal torrent distributors as still up there providing copyright content for all.

Excessive advertising

  • This algorithm was deployed in January 2012. The latest version being v3 was released on February 6, 2014.
  • As per this, it penalizes websites with overdose of advertisements.

Site Speed

  • It is not an algorithm, but an important ranking factor. It came into effect on April 9, 2010
  • Sites that load faster have the upper-hand.  It aims to foster faster websites unless of course they have got great content.

RankBrain

  • This algorithm is one of the most recent ones. Formed in October 2015.
  • This is an algorithm using artificial intelligence along with machine learning techniques to to try to better respond to complex user queries. In particular, it is designed to respond to requests that had never been done before (there are about 15% each day anyway).
  • It is not an algorithm that penalize or favor certain types of content or practical SEO. There is more to be compared to that of Hummingbird Panda or Penguin.

Phantom 2, also known as “Quality Update”

  • It was first released on 29 April 2015. During that point there was inconsistencies in the SERP for about a week. It was then on May 19 that another update was done.
  • Similar to that of Panda, the algorithm assesses the quality of the webpages and websites. There was no word regarding how it differs from Panda or the criteria that it is based on and how often it will be updated.
  • Google did not say whether this algorithm works on individual webpage or the whole of website. From the analysis done so far, it perhaps performs analysis section-wise on websites without focussing on the enter website.

Satellite pages

  • This algorithm was announced in March 2015.
  • It seeks to penalize satellite pages, that is to say, created solely for SEO with very low quality or copied content. It also aims to penalize websites using satellite site SEO techniques.

Pigeon

  • This algorithm was released in July 2014. But at that point of time, it focussed only International Google domain (Google.com). It was only in May 2015 that it was launched for regional websites.
  • This is the ranking algorithm update for the local search results concerning all  countries and all languages ​​(since late May early June 2015)

Feature articles (in-depth items)

  • This algorithm dates back to August 2013
  • Here, the google search results are displayed in boxed-manner with posts featured as “In-depth”article. Below is the screenshot.

serp-in-depth-articles

HTTPS

  • This algorithm was bought into effect from August 2014 onwards.
  • It favors pages that use HTTPS. The impact otherwise is quite low.

With inputs from source 1,2,3

2 Comments

  1. Michael Reyes September 12, 2016
  2. Sanya Malhotra May 26, 2017

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