Google Algorithm Updates and Changes History

What are Google Algorithms? Google’s algorithms are a complex system […]

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 web pages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

Read: Google Penalties: How to Recover from Any Google Penalty?

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:

  • Fred
  • Intrusive Interstitials Update
  • Mobilegeddon
  • RankBrain
  • Panda
  • Penguin
  • Hummingbird
  • Pigeon
  • Payday
  • EMD (Exact Match Domain)
  • Page Layout Algorithm

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

To provide the best possible results for each query, Google updates its algorithms a thousand times or more than that in a  year. Their changes in the algorithms are very small, and you will hardly notice anything. But every once in a while, Google makes some changes to its algorithm that affect the process of how we do search engine optimization.

In this post, we are going to discuss all the changes in the algorithm that have occurred over the past few years. But before we start, if you want to make sure that your website isn’t affected by sudden changes in the algorithm, then you can use the tool called “Google search console” to monitor where exactly you stand after the changes have been made.

So now let’s discuss some of the changes in Google’s algorithm that have taken place over the past few years ——

2023 Google Algorithm Updates

March 2023 Core Update

March 15 to 28, 2023: Google made a core algorithm update during this time.

February 2023 Product Reviews Update

February 21 to March 18, 2023: Google launched the February 2023 Product Reviews Update, which affected various languages globally.

2022 Google Algorithm Updates

Google December 2022 Link Spam Update

December 14, 2022 to January 12, 2023: Google launched the December 2022 Link Spam Update, which used “SpamBrain” to stop unnatural links from impacting search results.

Google Helpful Content Update

December 5, 2022 to January 12, 2023: Google launched the December 2022 Helpful Content Update.

Google Spam Update

October 19 to 21, 2022: Google made a spam update.

Google Product Review Update

September 20 to 26, 2022: Google rolled out a new product review algorithm update.

Google September 2022 Core Update

September 12 to 26, 2022: Google made a core algorithm update.

Google Helpful Content Update

August 25, 2022: Google launched the Helpful Content Update.

Google Product Review Update

July 27 to August 2, 2022: Google released the July 2022 Product Reviews Update.

May 2022 Core Update

May 22 to June 9, 2022: Google made a broad core update called the May 2022 Core Update.

March 2022 Product Reviews Update

Google said the third release of the product reviews update, which will take a “few weeks” to fully roll out, builds on the work of the two prior product review updates. Like those, this update is meant to help Google to identify high-quality product reviews and reward them with better rankings.

There were three new bits of advice from Google around ranked lists, recommendations of “best” products and creating reviews for multiple vs. individual products.

2021 Google Algorithm Updates

December 2021 Product Reviews Update (Dec. 1)

The goal of the Google product reviews update, like the April Product Reviews Update, was to reward outstanding product reviews in search results. Google wanted to show users content with insightful analysis and original search, written by topical experts or enthusiasts. It took about three weeks for this update to fully roll out.

Google’s new advice for this update: provide more multimedia “evidence” around your product reviews and include links to multiple sellers.

November 2021 Local Search Update (November 30)

Google said this global update was a “rebalancing of various factors we consider in generating local search results.” It ran between Nov. 30 and Dec. 8, overlapping with the December 2021 Core Update and December 2021 Product Reviews Update. However, Google didn’t confirm this update happened until Dec. 16.

November 2021 Core Update (Nov. 17)

This was the third and final Core Update of 2022. Like all of Google’s core updates, the November 2021 core update was wide-reaching, impacting websites and SEO across all languages and took about two weeks to fully roll out.

Link Spam Update (July 26)

Google said the purpose of this update was to “nullify” spammy links across the web and multiple languages. Websites with spammy links were more likely to see an impact on their rankings. Google’s advice: follow best practices for all incoming and outgoing links.

July 2021 Core Update (July 1)

This was the second of two back-to-back Core Updates that Google rolled out. As is typical of Core updates, the July 2021 core update was a comprehensive update that changed the whole algorithm slightly, but not any single function specifically. This update rolled out over 12 days, from July 1 to 12.

Spam Update (June 28)

The promised sequel of its Spam Update. We learned that both parts of the Spam Update were “global” updates that targeted both web results and image results

Spam Update (June 23)

Google announced the release of a Spam Update to their systems and said a second was coming the following week. There was no additional guidance or details. As part of the Twitter announcement, Google referred to its Webmaster Guidelines.

Page Experience Update (June 15)

Google began using a new set of metrics – Core Web Vitals – to understand how users perceive the experience of a specific web page. The three Core Web Vitals metrics are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) (measures loading performance); First Input Delay (FID) (measures interactivity); Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): (measures visual stability).

Part of the Page Experience Update includes existing ranking signals, such as page load speed, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS and lack of intrusive ads. This new ranking algorithm was announced in May 2020. The rollout began slowly, finishing at the end of August.**

February 10, 2021: Passage Ranking –

Passage ranking helps Google pull out sections of your content and rank it independently for the rest of the page. One of Google’s executives called Martin Splitt discusses the new ranking system and what changes have been made. He also shares 16 key points you should know about in a virtual get-together with 3 topmost SEO professionals: Cindy Krum, Bartosz Goralewicz, and Tomek Rudzki.

If you want to know more about these 16 key points regarding passage ranking, then you should definitely check their official website where everything is explained in a very simple manner.

December 3, 2020: December 2020 Core Update –

Google has informed everyone with a tweet and on many social media platforms that they are rolling out the December 2020 core update. This was the third core update in the year 2020. These updates are very frequent, but this update took a longer time than usual.

May 4, 2020: May 2020 Core Update –

Google’s Liaison Danny Sullivan announced on Twitter that Google will be rolling out a broad core algorithm update that will take almost 1 or 2 weeks to completely rollout for every device.

January 22, 2020: Featured Snippet Deduplication –

In this update, Google announces that the webpages in the featured snippet position will no longer be repeated on the regular first page of the search engine for organic listings. This change will be affected for all the websites world around the world immediately.

January 13, 2020: January 2020 Core Update –

This was the first core update of the year 2020. Danny Sullivan tweeted that a core algorithm will be released in a few hours. Google provides the same guidance as they have provided for many-core updates just like this one.

December 9, 2019: BERT(Worldwide) –

Danny Sullivan tweeted that BERT was going to roll out worldwide in the following languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Gujrati, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Marathi, Nepali and many more.

October 25, 2019: BERT Update –

On this day, Google announced the BERT update. This is the biggest change for Google search in the past 5 years. Google uses the BERT model to have a better understanding of search queries. Google said that this change impacted both SEO rankings, feature snippets, and BRET which stand for Bidirectional Encoder Representations From Transformers.

September 24, 2019: Broad Core Algorithm Update –

Google announced that they will be rolling out the Broad Core Algorithm update and it will take a few days to complete the rollout. The guidance from Google was the same as it had been for all other core algorithm updates.

June 2, 2019: June 2019 Core Update –

On June 2nd Danny Sullivan tweeted that Google will be releasing the Core Update on June 3rd. The next day Google announced that the update is live and the update will be rolling out through its various data centers all over the world. These Core updates are similar to the previous ones.

March 12, 2019: March 2019 Core Update(Florida 2) –

Google announced that a global broad core algorithm update is on the way. SEJ confirms this update will be very important and will be one of the biggest updates in years. This update brings many new changes and optimizations.

February 13, 2019: Valentine’s Day Update –

The update was reported by unconfirmed sources. Many unconfirmed sources said that an update took place around this time. However, after this update, many users reported positive changes in the SEO ranking. This update took place around 13th February that why maybe it is called Valentine’s day update.

October 31, 2018: Unconfirmed Halloween Update –

Web sources confirmed that the update will take place around Halloween. I personally doubt that this update ever happened because there is absolutely no evidence of this update. So I think that it might be false news or a rumor of some sort.

August 1, 2018: Broad Core Algorithm Update –

Google confirmed via Twitter that they will roll out a broad algorithm update. This update is referred to as medic by some people in the industry. Google said that this update won’t target any specific websites and won’t be targeting any medical websites.

March 9, 2019: Broad Core Algorithm Update –

On March 9th Google rolled out this update. This took around a week to roll out the entire update. Google said that from this update the pages that were under reward will be benefiting a lot and they said the user to keep making good content.

December 12, 2017: Maccabees Update –

Some communities on Reddit reported that their website was hit by an update between December 12 and 14. Google later confirmed many small changes to the core algorithm in this time frame.

August 19, 2017: Quality update –

Many websites reported minor volatility on august  19-20 which means there was another unconfirmed update. There were some rumors about this update but there is no concrete evidence of it.

July 9, 2017:Qulaity Update –

SEO ranking tools detected minor volatility on July 9th which can only indicate an update.

May 17, 2017: Quality Update –

From 17th May for 1 week, SEO tracking tools have informed us that there is minor volatility in the search engine result page. Not many sites have been affected by this update, only a few of those who tend to have issues with aggressive and deceptive marketing.

February 7, 2017: February 7 Update –

This unconfirmed update has resulted in a major ranking shift in search engine result pages. This means some website’s visibility got increased and some’s got decreased. But I think that after this update many popular websites have to gain more traffic, not the less popular ones.

January 10 ,2017: Intrusive Interstitals Update –

The effect of this update on SEO ranking was very low. This is a very minor update.


November 10, 2016: Unnamed Update –

Some SEO monitoring tools indicated that there was some sort of update that happened on this day.

September 23, 2016: Penguin Update 4.0 and Core Algorithm Update –

The final update to the Penguin algorithm got integrated into Google’s core algorithm that means penguin can evaluate websites and links in real-time.

May 12, 2016: Mobile-Friendly Update –

The mobile-friendly update was an update that made Google’s search more optimized for mobile devices.

January 11, 2016: Panda Core Algorithm Incorporation –

Google Confirmed that Panda has been integrated into the core of Google’s algorithm. In other words, the panda was longer a filter applied to the Google algorithm after it doses it works.

October 26, 2015: RankBrain –

Google officially launched RankBrain on this date. Rankbrain is a machine learning algorithm that filters search results to help the user find the exact thing that they are looking for. It has improved the queries by over 15% since it was deployed.

May 3, 2015: Quality update –

This quality update changes the way that Google access quality signals. Websites with specific content quality issues and too many ads are affected by this update.

April 21, 2015: Mobile-Friendly Update –

This update was meant to give mobile-friendly websites a better ranking in the SERP. this update impacted all languages worldwide.

October 17, 2014: Penguin Update –

It may sound like a very major and important update but it is nothing but a minor update for Google’s Penguin algorithm.

July 24, 2014: Pigeon Update –

Pigeon helped google to improve the quality of the local search by doing it more efficiently. It also helped to improve Google’s distance and location ranking parameters.

February 6, 2014: Page Layout Refresh –

On this date, Google announces a new refresh to the page layout algorithm.

October 4, 2013: Penguin Update 2.1 –

Penguin update 2.1 was released.

May 22, 2013: Penguin Update 2.0 –

This version looks deeper than the website homepage and top-level category pages for evidence linking spam being directed to the website. This had affected 2.3% of English queries.

March 14, 2013: Panda Updates –

It was the last time before pandas got integrated into Google’s core algorithm. 

January 22, 2013: Panda Update(#24) –

Google announced a panda data refresh impacting 1.2%  of English queries.

December 21, 2012: Panda Update (#23) –

Google announced a panda data refresh impacting 1.3%  of English queries.

October 9, 2012: Page Layout Update #2 –

Google announced that the page layout algorithm has been updated and it has impacted 0.7% of English queries. This gave an opportunity for those websites that were hit by Google’s first algorithm rollout to recover.

May 26, 2012: penguin update 1.1 –

Many websites saw their ranking drop due to this update.

April 27, 2012: Panda Update 3.6(#14) –

Google confirmed a refresh of the Panda algorithm on this particular date.

February 27, 2012: Vince Update –

They announced a refreshed version of panda that will be more accurate than the previous versions.

January 19, 2012: Page Layout Update –

The Google Page layout algorithm targeted those websites with too many ads. This means a user has to scroll all the way down to see the content of that website, this kind of website was impacted by less than 1%.

November 18, 2011: Panda Update 3.1(#9) –

A minor update for panda was released.

October 19, 2011: Panda Update (#8) –

Google ads some new signals to the panda algorithm.

August 12, 2011: Panda Update 2.4(#7) –

Google rolled out the Panda algorithm for the whole world.

April 11, 2011: Panda Update 2.0(#2) –

The first update to the core panda algorithm. This site adds a few more new signals as the site’s Google users were blocked.

April 28, 2010: MayDay Update –

The Mayday update was a change in how Google assessed which sites were the best match for the long train queries.

January 18, 2009: Vince Smart –

This was a noticeable change in how big domains turned up on the first page of the search engine and how pages used to turn up before this update.

December 15, 2005: Big Daddy Update –

BigDaddy was a major upgrade for Google that started to roll out in 2005 and ended in March 2006. This update Handled technical issues such as URL canonicalization and redirects. Many websites didn’t make it to the BigDaddy data centers.

November 16, 2003: Florida Update –

This update has started a new era of search engine optimization. The concept of SEO techniques was created after this update.

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