Google Algorithms

Google Algorithm Updates Explained In Simple Terms

Google is the most popular search engine and dominating search market because of its solid algorithm. Google has been improving its algorithm all over the year. Search Engine went through many algorithm updates since it launched in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In this post, I will try to explain all main Google Algorithm updates in simple terms.

Florida Update

Florida was the first major algorithm update of Google.

Release Date: 16th November 2003

Target and Impact: This update target sites using SEO Techniques like keyword stuffing, many sites under the same brand, invisible text, and hidden links. Florida update mainly targetted affiliate sites.

Jagger Update

Release Date: September 2005

Impact: Jagger update was related to backlinks and released in phases. It started in September and completed in November. This update penalized Sites with unnatural link building paid links and other types of spam.

Big Daddy Update

Release Date: December 2005

Impact: It was basically an infrastructure upgrade without a major shift in ranking. Google started doing better at canonicalization and how it stores pages. This update improved quality of Search Engine results. This update was officially announced by Matt Cutts and asked for feedback.

Vince Update

Release Date: February 2009

Impact: This algorithm update affected the ranking of big brands. SEOs claimed with this update Google started to support big brands. Though Matt Cutts called it a minor change a “Trust Change” in terms of the ranking algorithm and brand domains.

Caffeine Update

Release Date: August 10, 2009

Impact: Caffeine Update was an indexing update. Google changed its indexing system with this update. Its main target was faster and fresher results. It enabled Google to crawl and index more web pages

Mayday Update

This update rolled out between the end of April and early May.
Release Date: May 2010

Impact: Mayday Update affected long- tail queries. It affected search terms made up of 3 and more word. With this update, Google changed in some quality factors. In this video, Matt Cutts explained all about Mayday update.

Panda Update

Release Date: February 2011

Impact: This was a major Google algorithm update. Panda update targetted Content farms. It reduced the ranking of sites with thin content. According to the blog post published by Google,

“we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. ”

This update hurt most to article submission sites like where this content was published by SEO professionals. Panda improved the ranking of high-quality sites. Google also released guidance on building high-quality sites.

In 2016, panda become officially part of Google’s core ranking algorithm

Penguin Update

Release Date: April 2014

Impact: Penguin Update targetted webspam. Websites with unusual linking pattern affected with this update. Google decreased the ranking of sites violating Google Quality guidelines and using black hat techniques for link building. According to Google, this algorithm affects about 3.1% of queries in English to a degree that a regular user might notice.

In September 2016, Penguin started working real-time and becomes part of Google’s core algorithm.

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update

Release date: 28th September 2012

Impact: EMD Update focused on low-quality exact match domains. It basically prevents poor quality websites from ranking well just because they have exact search keywords in the domain. Matt Cutts confirmed this in a tweet.

Hummingbird Update

Release Date: 26 September 2013

Impact: Hummingbird was again a major update to the Google algorithm. Hummingbird helped google better understand search queries and provide result according to searcher intent. It was a major step by Google towards semantic search. Before Hummingbird Google used to look at individual words in the query. With Hummingbird, it started looking at the meaning of the phrase.

Pigeon Update

Release Date: July 2014 (US) December 2014 (UK, Canada, Australia)

Target: Pigeon update was Google’s local search algorithm update. This update affected local results. Pigeon helped to bring the local algorithm and the core algorithm closer by changing the local algorithm to include ranking factors associated with the core algorithm(s).

HTTPS Update

Release Date: 6 August 2014

Impact: Google officially announced HTTPS as a ranking signal. Google also confirmed it as a lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals.
With this update, Google starts giving a lightweight ranking boost to secure site.


Mobilegeddon Update

Release Date: 21 April 2015

Impact: Mobilegeddon was a mobile-friendly update. With Mobilegeddon update, Google started rewarding mobile-friendly sites. Websites not optimized for mobile were downranked. Google announced this in its blog “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact on our search results. ”


Release Date: 26 October 2015

Impact: Rank Brain is a machine learning Artificial Intelligence System. It is a part of Hummingbird Algorithm and helps Google understand the meaning of search queries. According to Bloomberg article “In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query, Greg Corrado said. ”

Possum Update

Release Date: 1 September 2017

Impact: Possum was an algorithm update for local search results unconfirmed update affected local search results. Ranking in 3-pack changed according to the location of the searcher. With Possum update, the closer your business is located from the physical location of the searcher, the higher ranking of that business.

Fred Update

Release Date: 8 March 2017

Impact: Fred Update hurt websites with aggressive monetization. This update was not confirmed by Google. According to Barry Schwartz analysis of 100 sites affected with Fred update “this is a new type of algorithm update that aims at ad heavy, low-value content created with the purpose of generating ad revenue. ”

Mobile-first indexing Update

Release Date: 26 March 2018

Google announced it has started migrating to mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.
Google sent the notification to webmasters in Search Console.



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