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Google Update History

Google updates from 2000 till today
reading time: 14 minutes

Google Updates inklusive Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird und Rankbrain

Google never sleeps. Again and again the search engine attends with small and big changes, which from SEO view in part have considerable effects. Google does not always puts its cards on the table, so some effects become visible only bit by bit.

Here is the complete Google Update History, summarized by the seo-nerd. Including important updates such as Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and RankBrain.


Google Updates in 2016

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Penguin 4.0 – September 23, 2016
Google announced a long-awaited update to Penguin. Penguin now works in real time and has been integrated into the core algorithm. The expected impact was manageable and hardly any recollections of previous penguin punishment were reported.

Possum – September 1, 2016
Google rolled out the biggest update to the local search since Pigeon, unofficially named Possum. It should remove little relevant and duplicate content from the local search results.

Phantom 4 – June or July 2016
First in the US and then later in Europe, SEOs and tools reported violent deviations in the rankings. As always, Google is silent about whether there are actually algorithm changes behind it. Meanwhile, however, it seems clear that this is an update.

Mobile-friendly 2 – May 12, 2016
Over a year after the first “mobile-friendly” update, Google rolled out another ranking boost for mobile-optimized pages in mobile search.

AdWords Shake-up – February 23, 2106
Google has made major changes to AdWords. Ads are now no longer displayed in the right column. For this, three instead of four displays are displayed above the organic search results. Although this was a pure AdWords change, there were also effects in the CTR of organic search results.

Nameless update – January 8, 2016
In January, major changes in the ranking were observed. This was not, however, a penguin update, but an update of the core algorithm.


Google Updates in 2015

RankBrain – October 2015
Google unveiled in a big announcement that for months now the AI system RankBrain has been part of the search algorithm to intelligently interpret search queries. For example, search queries that have never been done before will be better processed.

Panda 4.2 – July 17, 2015
After a long pause, Google announced another Panda update but its content was not much commented on. However, there were no signs of a larger algorithm update.

PHANTOM 2 – Quality Update – May 3, 2015
After several significant changes in the ranking, initially referred to as Phantom 2, Google confirmed a change in the core algorithm that affected quality signals. The update seemed to have far-reaching consequences; but the content was not disclosed.

Mobilegeddon – April 22, 2015
A rare case: Google announced an update already in advance. Mobile user friendliness was included as a ranking factor in the algorithm, which in some cases led to considerable losses of position in the SERPs for non-responsive pages.

Nameless update – February 4, 2015
There were reports of a major change in the SERPs from different sites. It was speculated about updates with a focus on e-commerce or mobile usability. Google did not officially confirm an update.


Google Updates in 2014

Pigeon expands (UK, CA, AU) – December 22, 2014
Googles large Local Algorithm Update Pigeon was expanded to Great Britain, Canada an Australia.

Pirate 2.0 – October 21, 2014
More than two years after the DMCA/„Pirate“ update Google rolled ou another update to process against software- and media-piracy. This update was highly targeted and caused significant ranking losses to a small group of sites.

Penguin 3.0 – October 17, 2014
After more than a year break since the last Penguin update (2.1), Google brings out a Penguin refresh. The update is much smaller than expected; Less than 1% of English search requests were affected. Since the update was carried out over a longer period of time, changes could not be detected exactly.

„In the News“ Box – October 2014
Google expanded the links of the „In the news“ box to a wider range of potential news pages. The presence of news results in the SERPs increased and larger news portals reported significant traffic changes.

Panda 4.1 – September 23, 2014
Google announced a significant Update for Panda, which includes an algorithm component. 3-5% of search queries were meant to be affected. Since the roll-out took place over a long period, concrete effects were difficult to detect.

Authorship removed – August 28, 2014
After first removing the photos from the Authorship markups, Google announced to completely remove Authorship.

HTTPS/SSL Update – August 6, 2014
After months of speculation Google announced to give preference to secure sites. Adding encryption should have a positive effect on the ranking.

Pigeon – July 24, 2014
Google shocked the Local SEO World with an update that had significant impact on some local search results. With Pigeon, the local search algorithm was linked closer to the core algorithm.

Authorship without photos – June 28, 2014
John Mueller made a surprising announcement: Google removes all the authorship photos from the search results, although Authorship was previously strongly promoted as a link to Google+.

Payday Loan 3.0 – June 12, 2014
Less than a month after the Anti-Spam-Update Payday-Loan 2.0 Google raised the ante. While 2.0 was processing against certain pages, 3.0 targets spammy search requests.

Panda 4.0 – May 16, 2014
As Google announced, the new Panda Update included both an algorithm update and a data refresh. Officially about 7.5% of English-language search requests were affected.

Payday Loan 2.0 – May 16, 2014
Google updated its Payday Loan Algorithm to better prevent illegal SEO measures.

Page Layout #3 – February 6, 2014
Google refreshed its Page Layout Algorithm and continues to punish pages with too many advertisements.


Google Updates in 2013

Authorship shake-up – December 2013
As Matt Cutts confirmed, the Authorship mark-ups were reduced in 15 % of the Rich Snippets in the search results.

Penguin 2.1 (#5) – October 4, 2013
After a gap of several months Google published another Penguin update which was mainly a data update. The changes concern primarily the spam control and influenced about 1% of the search requests.

Hummingbird – August 20, 2013
About a month after the rollout of the update, Google announced the release of the Hummingbird Update. The significant changes in the algorithm have affected over 90% of global search queries. The new search algorithm should be able to interpret search queries better in order to provide users with high-quality search results.

In-depth Articles – August 6, 2013
With this update Google introduced a new feature in the search results. The In-depth Articels constitute a separate block of three snippets pointing to longer subject articles about the search queries. Thus, Google increased the relevance of evergreen content.

Knowledge Graph Expansion – July 19, 2013
Another updated of the Knowledge Graph provides this feature for more search queries.

Panda Recovery – July 18, 2013
With another Panda Update Google slightly moderates the penalties.

Payday Loan – June 11, 2013
With another algorithm update, Google specifically targeted spam-laden search queries.

Penguin 2.0 – May 22, 2013
With the comprehensive changes in the algorithm because of the update Penguin 2.0 Google improved the possibilities of web spam detecting.

Domain Crowding – May 21, 2013
With this update, Google processed massively against the so-called Domain Crowding and thus made a greater variety in the search results possible.

Phantom – May 2013
This update was never confirmed by Google, why it was named Phantom. Although nothing specific about this update has been posted, some sites suffered from significant losses in the SERPs.

Panda #25 – March 14, 2013
Matt Cutts announced another Panda Update, before this would be integrated completely into the core algorithm.

Panda #24 – January 22, 2013
Another refresh of Panda was announced by Google. The changes affected about 1,2 % of the search results.


Google Updates in 2012

Panda #23 – December 21, 2012
So to say as a Christmas gift Google presented another Panda update, which was officially referred to as a „refresment“ and impacted 1.3% of the English search requests. This was a slightly higher impact than its predecessors.

Knowledge Graph Expansion – December 4, 2012
Google expanded the Knowledge Graph functionality to non-English search queries, including German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and Italian.

Panda #21 and #22 – November 2012
According to Google, the 21st revision of Panda influenced 1.1% of English search queries. Google also confirmed the 22nd Panda update. This ensured an improved data management.

Page Layout #2 – October 9, 2012
Google announced an update to the Page Layout Algorithm made in January. This update targeted websites with to much above the fold ads.

Penguin #3 – October 5, 2012
After Google suggested that the next Penguin update would be lager, only a small update was made, which only affected 0,3 % of the search queries.

65-Pack of Updates – October 4, 2012
At the beginning of October Google announced that several minor updates were already made in August and September. These updates affected mostly the Knowledge Graph, the calculation of page quality and changes in the local SERPs.

EMD Update and Panda #20 – September 27, 2012
With the EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update Google placed the relevance of high-quality content for keyword domains as a ranking factor. At the same time, a slightly larger Panda update was released, which concerns 2.4% of all search requests. As the count of the Panda updates became increasingly confusing, this update was named # 20.

Panda 3.9.1 and 3.9.2 – August & September 2012
The 18th and 19th Panda updates are only smaller Data refreshs, which concerned less than 0,7 % of all search queries.

7-Result SERPs – August 14, 2012
Google reduced the displayed search results from 10 to 7 for many queries because of increasing sitelinks.

DMCA penalties and 86-Pack of Updates – August 10, 2012
According to an official announcement about copyright violation, Google now proceeds harder against pages which are conspicuous because of copyright infringements. At the same time, it was confirmed that in June and July several small updates were made, which mainly helped trustworthy sites to a ranking boost.

Panda 3.7, 3.8 and 3.9 – June & July 2012
The new Panda updates made for improved data collection, which did not affect the algorithm and concerned less than 1% of the search queries.

May 39-Pack of Updates – June 7, 2012
Google confirmed to have made 39 smaller updates in May that affected especially Penguin and Google News and enabled an improved detection of link building.

Penguin 1.1 – May 25, 2012
Google rolled out the first update since the release of Penguin. It was especially proceeded against web spam and also announced that similar to Panda a continuous publication of updates will be given.

Knowledge Graph – May 16, 2012
Google took another step in the matter of semantic search and introduces the Knowledge Graph. This display, integrated in the SERPs, shows additional objects and information to the organic search results.

April 52-Pack of Updates – May 4, 2012
As a refinement of the Penguin update, Google confirmed the implementation of several minor changes that concerned, for example, sitelinks and indexing.

Penguin – April 24, 2012
After weeks of speculation Google finally rolled out the new update Penguin which should proceed stronger against spam. A number of spam factors have been adapted with Penguin. Mainly sites that used keyword stuffing were clearly punished.

Panda 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6 – March & April 2012
Around the the release of Penguin, Google also worked on two more Panda updates. The routine updates did not affect the SERPs much.

Venice and Panda 3.3 – February 27, 2012
As part of the monthly updates, Google introduced Venice vor. This algorithm change increases the integration of Google Places into organic search. At the same time the update Panda 3.3 was confirmed.

Page Layout Algorithm – January 19, 2012
Google updated the Page Layout algorithm, in order to punish websites with to much above the fold ads. Although this update was highly important from a SEO’s point of view, Google has not given it an own name.

Search + Your World – January 10, 2012
Google announced a radical change in personalization. Google+ data and profiles were now much more closely involved in the search results. Google also built a new toggle button to disable personalization.


Google Updates in 2011

December 10-Pack – December 2011

Google presented another set of 10 updates, announcing that these notes will be made monthly. The updates included refinement of queries and detection of parked domains as well as improved blog and image search. The exact date of each update was not disclosed.

Panda 3.1 – November 18, 2011

After Panda 2.5 Google started to launch smaller updates more frequently. Some called the 11/18 update Panda 3.1 although there was no official 3.0.

10-Pack of Updates – November 14, 2011

Matt Cutts released a post with 10 recent algorithm updates. While these were only smaller changes, it was clear how Google would communicate algorithm changes in the future.

Freshness Update – November 3, 2011

Google announced that an algorithm change rewarding freshness will affect up to 35% of search queries. The update mainly affects daily search results, but also shows an increased focus on fresh content.

Query Encryption – October 18, 2011

Search results will be transferred encrypted in the future in order to meet the increased need for security on the Internet. However, this also means that keyword data is no longer passed on to the target pages.

Panda „Flux“ – October 5, 2011

Matt Cutts announced via Twitter some “Panda-related flux” in the next weeks. Minor updates were made on 3 October, 13 October and 18 November.

Panda 2.5 – September 28, 2011

After more than a month, Google confirmed another Panda update. Exact content was not disclosed, but some site operators reported significant scale-losses.

Pagination elements – September 15, 2011

To resolve crawl and duplication errors caused by the pagination, Google introduced the link attributes rel = “next” and rel = “prev”. Google also explained that the automatic consolidation and canonization of “View All” pages has been improved.

Expanded Sitelinks – August 16, 2011

After a period of experimentation Google introduced the Expanded Sitelinks, often shown for brand queries.

Panda 2.4 – August 12, 2011

Panda was now rolled out internationally or english-language queries as well as for non-english queries, except for Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Google reported that this impacts 6-9% of the search queries from the affected countries.

Panda 2.3 – July 23, 2011

Webmaster Chatter indicated the roll-out of another update an. It was unclear, however, whether new factors were introduced or this was simply an update to the Panda data and ranking factors.

Google+ – June 28, 2011

After some social media failures Google launched a serious attack on Facebook by starting Google+ Google+ allows sharing content and has been tightly linked to other products like Gmail. Within two weeks, Google+ had already reached 10 Mio. users.

Panda 2.2 – June 21, 2011

Google proceeded to update Panda-impacted data and sites and confirmed Panda 2.2 officially. The update concerned more ranking factors than the algorithm.

Schema.org – June 2, 2011

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft announced a common standard for structured Web content data. This will allow better search results in the future.

Panda 2.1 – May 9, 2011

Google rolled out further changes of Panda aus. However, since these have not been discussed in detail by Google, this update seems to be relatively minor and therefore can not necessarily be referred to as Panda 3.0.

Panda 2.0 – April 11, 2011

The newly released Panda update from Google affected all English search queries, but is not limited to English-speaking countries. New signals have been integrated, such as data from pages that users have blocked directly through the SERPs or Chrome.

The +1 Button – March 30, 2011

In order to get in direct competition with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Google introduced the +1 Button, next to the links of the search results. This allows users to influence the search results in their social circle in both organic and paid results.

Panda – February 23, 2011

The large algorithm update Panda showed strong impact on up to 12% of the search results as Google reportet. P Panda was particularly hard on thin content, content farms, sites with increased advertising content ratio and other quality problems. The Panda update was rolled out over several months and reached Europe in April 2011.

Attribution Update – January 28, 2011

To proceed against the high volume of spam cases, Google rolled out another update to sort content attribution and stop scrapers. According to Matt Cutts this is about 2% of all search queries. This update is clearly seen as a harbinger of Panda.

Overstock.com Penalty – January 2011
The public revelation of the questionable SEO practices of Overstock.com led to a very publicly effective penalty by Google. In February, JCPenney also received a punishment for a similarly bad behavior. Both situations showed a change in Google’s attitude and already indicated the Panda update.


Google Updates in 2010

Negative Reviews – December 2010
After an article in the New York Times, how the e-commerce website DecorMyEyes ranked based on negative ratings, Google responded and adapted the algorithm.

Social Signals – December 2010
Google and Bing confirmed that the use Social Signals as a ranking factor, including data from Twitter and Facebook. Matt Cutts confirmed, that this is a relatively new development on Google, although many SEOs had anticipated this.

Instant Preview – November 2010
A magnifying glass icon appeared in the Google SERPs. This enabled visitors to quickly preview the landing pages directly in the SERPs. This indicated a renewed focus for Google on landing page quality, design and ease of use. Because this feature was not used by users, it was discontinued in 2013 (unfortunately).

Google Instant – September 2010
Google Instant started as an extension to Google Suggest. This means that search results will be shown before the question is finished. SEOs around the world freaked out, only to realize that the impact was quite small.

Brand-Update – August 2010
Although it is not a traditional algorithm update, Google started to display the same domain multiple times on a SERP. Until now, domains were limited to 1-2 entries.

Caffein Rollout – June 2010
After months of testing Google rolled out the new core algorithm. Caffeine guaranties a 50 % fresher index.

May Day – May 2010
At the end of April and the beginning of March webmasters recognized significant drops in their traffic. Matt Cutts later confirmed that May Day was an algorithm change witch major impacts on die Long-Tails. Sites with thin content seemed to be hit especially hard, which is why one thought of Panda.

Google Places – April 2010
Although „Places“ sites were rolled out in September 2009, they were originally only part of Google Maps. The official launch of Google Places changed the My Business Center. Google Places pages were more closely linked to local search results and Google added a number of features, including, of course, new local advertising opportunities.


Google Updates in 2009

Google Real-time Search – December 2009
With Realtime Search Twitter feeds were taken into the ranking, just published news and also other published content are included in the search results in real time. More and more content, which should be inserted in real time follow.

Caffein Preview – August 2009
A preview of the upcoming core algorithm Caffeine was rolled out in August 2009. Caffeine (designed for fast indexing and fast crawling) was completed in the summer of 2010.

Vince – February 2009
SEOs reported a major update that seemed to strongly prefer big brands. Matt Cutts called Vince a “minor change”, but others believed that it is a profound update, with long-term impact.

Real-Canonical – February 2009
Google, Microsoft and Yahoo had announced it: the Canonical tag has been supported since February 2009 by the major search engines. Webmasters can send canonization signals to bots since then, without affecting human visitors.


Google Updates in 2008

Google Suggest – August 2008
In August 2008 Google Suggest was introduced which displayed suggested search queries in a dropdown; the basis for Google Instant Answers and the first step towards longer search queries. The logo and the homepage itself have also been adapted.

Dewey Update – April 2008
An extensive mixup went through the SERPs at the end of March and beginning of April 2008 but the details were of course unclear. Some implied Google’s own internal products were pushed, such as Google Books, but the evidence was limited.


Google Updates in 2007

Buffy – June 2007
In honor of Vanessa Fox, who left Google, the update “Buffy” was launched. No one was quite sure what had happened in the SERPs. In the end, Matt Cutts said Buffy was just a collection of minor changes. war.

Universal Search – May 2007
Kein typisches Algorithmus-Update, 2007 integrierte Google in die traditionellen Suchergebnisse die Nachrichten, Video, Bilder und lokale Ergebnisse. Die Vertikalen Suchergebnisse, veränderten das Format der SERPs dramatisch, das Ende der 10-blue-links-SERPs war nun offiziell.


Google Updates in 2006

False Alarm – December 2006
Many webmasters said they had noticed an update in late November – early December along with major ranking changes, which was merely false alarm, according to Matt Cutts.

Supplemental Update – November 2006
In 2006, Google seemed to make changes to the index and, e.g. how filtered pages were treated. They claimed at the end of 2006 that it was, only supplement and no penalty (even if some webmasters regarded it as penalty).


Google Updates in 2005

Big Daddy – December 2005
Big Daddy was an update of Google’s infrastructure, such as Caffein 2010. However, Big Daddy was technically versed and had thus also less influence on the SERPs. The Big Daddy Update primarily changed the handling of Canonization and the famous 301 and 302 redirects, as well as other technical aspects.

Google Local/Maps – October 2005
Google brings together the products Google-Local and Google-Maps. The merger of Maps and Local was the first major change for Local SEO.

Jagger – October 2005
The Jagger Update is targeted on links of poor quality. These include link farms, reciprocal links, and naturally paid backlinks. The Jagger update has been rolled out in three stages, from September to November 2005. The update is scheduled for October, as it has the greatest impact on rankings.

Gilligan – September 2005
According to Matt Cutts, Gilligan was not really an update, merely the impact of Backlink– pagerank data in the SERPs. So Gilligan was just an exceptionally striking change in rankings. Somehow it is then an update, an update of the pagerank and backlink data.

XML Sitemaps – June 2005
It was only in June 2005 that Google made it possible for the webmaster of this world to use the search console to submit an XML Sitemap to Google.

Personalized Search – June 2005
Part One of the personalized search was confirmed by Google on June 28. The first step to the personalized search results from Google was to use the search history for rankings.

Bourbon – May 2005
A GoogleGuy in webmaster forum (presumably Matt Cutts) has announced an update rollout: The Bourbon Update. After some speculation it is assumed that the treatment of duplicate content has been adapted.

Allegra – February 2005
Allegra’s goals remained unclear. Whether Google improved the semantics or started to punish suspicious links never came out. Allegra is probably the optimization of latent semantic indexing (LSI).

NoFollow – January 2005
The introduction of the NoFollow attribute for links was announced in January 2005 by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. The attributes are supposed to help to control the links of a website better and especially be used at spammy blog comments. The introduction of the NoFollow attribute is not a traditional update, but it had a considerable influence on the link strength and rankings of various websites.


Google Updates in 2004

Brandy – February 2004
With Brandy several changes were made to the rankings, including the Latent Semantic indexing (LSI), the concept of link neighborhoods, and the increased attention to the relevance of anchor texts. The Brandy Update and the LSI allows Google to understand synonyms (in 2004) and raised the keyword analysis to a new level!

Austin – January 2004
The old-school SEO techniques Florida had missed were cleared by the Austin Update. Austin’s list included hidden texts and keyword stuffing in meta tags. For many SEOs it became clear that Google would take the “relevance of a page to a topic” significantly more seriously.


Google Updates in 2003

Florida – November 2003
This major update put an end to the 90s SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing. Many sites lost ranking and the game of SEO begun.

Supplemental Index – September 2003
To index more documents without loss of performance, Google introduced an additional index (Supplemental Index). This step has long been discussed in the SEO world until Google re-integrates the additional index.

Fritz Update – July 2003
With Fritz the Google Dance finally came to an end. Instead of changing the Google Index once a month via “refit updates”, Google switches to changes step by step. In other words, the index is now changing daily.

Esmeralda Update – June 2003
Esmeralda was the last of Google’s regular monthly updates. The Google Dance was replaced by Everflux. Google Everflux means nothing more than a stable, lighter change of ranking positions in the SERPs. Esmeralda has probably made some significant changes to the infrastructure of the Google ranking algorithm.

Dominic Update – May 2003
Many changes in the SERPs were observed in May. The Google Bots „Freshbot“ and „Deepcrawler“ scoured the web and caused many fluctuations. The nature of Dominic was however unclear.

Cassandra Update – April 2003
With Cassandra, Google has fixed some link quality errors. A lot of links from sites, which you also owned, as well as hidden links were affected. Websites with hidden text were also hit by Cassandra.

Boston Update – February 2003
The first update named by Google was announced at the SES in Boston. Originally a big, monthly update was planned: A combination of changes and index refresh (called Google-Dance). When there were later regular updates, the idea of monthly updates was quickly rejected.


Google Updates in 2002

1st documented Update – September 2002
Before the first official Google Update called „Boston“ in 2003 there were major changes in 2002 in the SERPs. Webmasters perceived much more movement, as it was usual until then.


Google Updates in 2001

Google Toolbar Update – July 2001
In July 2001, Google launched the search engine for images, with initial access to 250 million images.


Google Updates in 2000

Google Toolbar Update – December 2000
Google launched their browser toolbar including the Toolbar PageRank (TBPR).