Google Algorithm Updates History

Google’s algorithm for better search engine results and rankings is constantly evolving. Because of this, Google releases updates regularly. Some of these updates are minor and the majority of users and website owners never notice a difference. But the other updates, the really big ones, often have broad and lasting effects.

Here is a brief, recent history update to help you see the difference between some minor changes and some of the biggest changes. At Online Potential, we want to make sure your content reflects Google’s standards, so when a big update is released, like the latest version of Panda, we take note and make any necessary adjustments to your content and website.

Take a look at Google’s algorithm update history:


Panda was first released in February 2011 with the goal of lowering the rankings of sites that do not provide quality content while raising the ranks of sites that include content that is deemed higher quality. The noticeable update hurt sites with heavy advertising the algorithm took a look at advertising to content ratios, especially on sites with advertising “above the fold” or at the top of a web page. Panda also checks to make sure your website content is unique from other sites and that each web page is unique from the other pages on your site. One thing to remember is that Panda judges the entire website based on its pages. Your company’s website might rank lower due to a few lower-quality pages. It’s recommended to remove or block those sites from being indexed so as not to penalize your entire site.


Penguin, perhaps a fitting name to an algorithm update that deals with Black Hat and White Hat SEO practices, was first released in 2012. Penguin takes aim at keyword spamming/stuffing, sites with doorway pages, cloaking tactics and other practices that are denounced in the Google Webmaster Tools guidelines. The majority of the updates to Penguin have been called minor or moderate by Google, but that hasn’t stopped the changes from affecting plenty of websites. Through Penguin, Google has been able to return better websites to search queries and decrease the chances of spam. It’s worth noting that Penguin is an automated algorithm, so pleading to Google won’t help your website recover. Instead, it’s better to go back to the grindstone to create a quality product.


In 2013, Google released Hummingbird, an update that’s all about synonyms and context, according to Gianluca Fiorelli, an SEO and Inbound Marketing expert at Moz. Hummingbird tries to get behind the intent of the search query to return the most precise results and determine exactly what a person is searching for. Website managers have been urged to consider why a person uses a specific phrase in the query in order to meet the expectations and intentions rather than just trying to copy the keywords. Hummingbird is also unique because it focuses on the most appropriate web page which is not necessarily the home page of a site.

Unnamed Updates You Should Know About

HTTPS/SSL Update: On Aug. 6, 2014, Google announces it will give preference to secure sites with a small rankings boost. The corporation noted that the effects would be small at first, but the update has lasting implications that could increase in the future.

Google Local Algorithm Update: In July 2014, this update boosted Google’s local search algorithm in order to return better results for geo-targeted queries.

Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0: This update targeted queries that often returned a large number of results that contained spam. Tech blogs such as Search Engine Journal reported that sites had no reason to fret unless they were part of this niche group.

Hopefully we have helped you understand how Google’s algorithm has evolved over the years in order to better serve you and other searchers. If you manage your website, or you have a team to do it, it’s best to keep an eye on Google updates and releases so you can continue to rank well. If you rely on an Inbound marketing company, like Online Potential in Gainesville, they can monitor your site for any algorithm infractions as releases occur to help you stay visible to your audience.

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