The Biggest Google Algorithm and Ranking Updates that You Need to Know About
(from 2010 to Today)
Page Layout Update
January 10, 2017
February 23, 2011
October 17, 2017
Google isn't special - they also say that security is a top priority. Based on this, they updated their ranking algorithm to include HTTPS as a "lightweight signal" for websites.
If your site isn't secure, what are you even doing?
An uncomfirmed update that seemed to heavily penalize sites that prioritized monetization over users.
Created by Patrick Eng using the Ceros platform.
The Freshness Update
The Pigeon update was made to increase the relevancy and usefulness of local search results. This algorithm began to tie more traditional web ranking factors in with local search results and took into account parameters like distance and location.
July 24, 2018
October 26, 2015
While not an algorithm update, the Chrome Not secure warning update informed users anytime they entered sensitive information in a form on a site not using HTTPS.
Psychological impact: unclear, but probable.
January 19, 2012
While mostly affecting content that is time sensitive, this update heavily favored more recent/fresh content in organic rankings.
A brief test from Google that experimented with a search engines result page that only displayed one result for questions with factual answers, and it wasn't a link. Think, currency exhange, temperature conversion, current times, math, etc.
Exact-Match Domain Update
April 22, 2015
Major algorithm update that heavily penalized sites with weak or farmed content, lots of ads, or just overall low quality flags.
The Penguin Update
An core/global update, the Medic update seemed to have disproportionately affected health and wellness related websites with the theory that Google is more strongly taking into account a website's expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT).
Building upon the Chrome security update in 2016, Google updated Chrome to mark all sites using HTTP, regardless of form input as not secure. And to put the cherry on top, the not secure text is red.
July 9, 2018
March 8, 2017
Intrusive Intersitial Update
August 1, 2018
The Speed Update
November 3, 2011
March 26, 2018
August 6, 2014
Google announces that they are switching their indexing versions from the Desktop version of your site to the Mobile version. So basically, when Google sees your site, it sees it like someone on their smartphone would see it. Hopefully, that goes to show you how important mobile-friendliess is for your website.
August 20, 2013
September 27, 2012
Without giving any specifics, Google rolled out the Penguin update which targeted sites that practiced black hat / webspammy tactics. The goal? Focus more on creating high-quality content and less on ranking factors.
As mobile search came to dominate the search market, Google wanted to make sure the results they gave on mobile were the best they could be. Thus, they incorporated a site's mobile-friendliness into the overall ranking system.
Since Google cares about a website's content, it would make sense that they would check put a check in place against domains that tried to just rank their domain for an exact keyword. So don't rely on keywords in your domain to help your organic positions anymore, especially if your content is weak or irrelevant.
March 14, 2018
Probably the biggest core algorithm change since 2001, the Hummingbird update was built for speed and precision. The main change from this update was Google taking the entire query into account and understanding each word before it returns results (i.e., the algo doesn't just focus on a few key words).
The Caffeine Update
June 1, 2010
The Zero Results Page Test
The Chrome Security Update
If you can't see the gif, it's because you have adblocker turned on.
Basically an overhaul of their indexing infrastructure that helped serve fresher content. Not actually an impact on website's rankings. They update their index in small frequent batches instead of large, infrequent ones.
Not Secure Chrome Update
In Google's never-ending quest to provide a high quality search experience, they update their algorithm to penalized sites with too many ads above the main body content (i.e., top-heavy ads). In the end, don't bury your content.
April 24, 2012
The Panda Update
With all the hype around machine learning and artificial intelligence, it should come as no surprise that Google uses machine learning AI in their search algorithms. Introducing RankBrain, the 3rd most important factor when it comes to organic rankings. As to what it does - simply think of it as another way for Google to understand and connect complex search results with relevant pages.
July 24, 2014
As Google continues to prioritize mobile over desktop they include the mobile load time of your site into the ranking algorithm. Just remember though, content is still more important.
The Medic Update
Building off the mobile-friendly update of 2015, Google took it one step further with the intrusive interstitial popup penalty. Basically, if you place your content underneath some sort of popup that blocks users from reading it, you're creating a poor user experience - and thus, you'll be penalized by Google (barring Cookie and Age Verification popups).
All gifs taken from giphy.com