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Google Change in Search Algorithm

Google Change in Search Algorithm

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Published by Sumit Roy
The Timeline and Visual Data on The Most Controversial Google search updates
The Timeline and Visual Data on The Most Controversial Google search updates

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Sumit Roy on Jun 12, 2013
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Google Algorithm Change History
Each year, Google changes it s search algorit hm around 500–600 t imes. While most of t hese changes are minor, every few mont hs Google rolls out a “major” algorit hmic updat e t hat affect s search result s in significant ways.
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For search market ers, knowing t he dat es of t hese Google updat es can help explain changes in rankings and organic websit e t raffic. Below, we’ve list ed t he major algorit hmic changes t hat made t he biggest impact s on search. Underst anding t hese updat es can help wit h search engine opt imizat ion.

2013 Updates
Penguin 2.0 (#4) — May 22, 2013
Aft er mont hs of speculat ion bordering on hype, t he 4t h Penguin updat e (dubbed "2.0" by Google) arrived wit h only moderat e impact . The exact nat ure of t he changes were unclear, but some evidence suggest ed t hat Penguin 2.0 was more finely t arget ed t o t he page level. Penguin 4, Wit h Penguin 2.0 Generat ion Spam-Fight ing, Is Now Live (SEL) Penguin 2.0/4 - Were You Jarred and/or Jolt ed? (SEOmoz)

Domain Crowding — May 21, 2013
Google released an updat e t o cont rol domain crowding/diversit y deep in t he SERPs (pages 2+). The t iming was unclear, but it seemed t o roll out just prior t o Penguin 2.0 in t he US and possibly t he same day int ernat ionally. Google Domain Crowding Updat e: May 2013 (High Posit ion) Google Domain Clust ering Updat e (Just in Briggs)

"Phantom" — May 9, 2013
In t he period around May 9t h, t here were many report s of an algorit hm updat e (also verified by high MozCast act ivit y). The exact nat ure of t his updat e was unknown, but many sit es report ed significant t raffic loss. A Google Updat e Is Happening (Google: Not hing To Announce Now) (SER) SEO Findings From Google’s Phant om Updat e (GSQi)

Panda #25 — March 14, 2013
Mat t Cut t s pre-announced a Panda updat e at SMX West , and suggest ed it would be t he last updat e before Panda was int egrat ed int o t he core algorit hm. The exact dat e was unconfirmed, but MozCast dat a suggest s 3/13-3/14. Google's Final Manual Panda Refresh Here? #25 (SER) Google Panda Updat e 25 Seems To Have Hit (SEL)

Panda #24 — January 22, 2013
Google announced it s first official updat e of 2013, claiming 1.2% of queries affect ed. This did not seem relat ed t o t alk of an updat e around 1/17-18 (which Google did not confirm). Google Announces 24t h Panda Refresh; Not Relat ed To January 17t h (SER) Google Panda Updat e Version #24; 1.2% Of Search Queries Impact ed (SEL)

2012 Updates
Panda #23 — December 21, 2012
Right before t he Christ mas holiday, Google rolled out anot her Panda updat e. They officially called it a "refresh", impact ing 1.3% of English queries. This was a slight ly higher impact t han Pandas #21 and #22. Confirmed: A Panda Refresh, Version #23 (SER)

Knowledge Graph Expansion — December 4, 2012
Google added Knowledge Graph funct ionalit y t o non-English queries, including Spanish, French, German, Port uguese, Japanese, Russian, and It alian. This updat e was "more t han just t ranslat ion" and added enhanced KG capabilit ies.

Get smart er answers from t he Knowledge Graph from Port uguês t o Japanese t o Russian (Google) Google’s Knowledge Graph Expands To More Languages, Including It alian, French, Japanese And Russian (TechCrunch)

Panda #22 — November 21, 2012
Aft er some mixed signals, Google confirmed t he 22nd Panda updat e, which appears t o have been dat a-only. This came on t he heels of a larger, but unnamed updat e around November 19t h. Official Google Panda #22 Updat e: November 21 (SER) Confirmed: Google Panda Refresh #22 On November 21st ; 0.8% Of Queries Impact ed (SEL)

Panda #21 — November 5, 2012
Google rolled out t heir 21st Panda updat e, roughly 5-1/2 weeks aft er Panda #20. This updat e was report ed t o be smaller, officially impact ing 1.1% of English queries. Google Releases Panda Updat e 21, Impact s 1.1% Of US Queries In English (SEL) Official: Google Panda Refresh On November 5t h (Version 21) (SER)

Page Layout #2 — October 9, 2012
Google announced an updat e t o it s original page layout algorit hm change back in January, which t arget ed pages wit h t oo many ads above t he fold. It 's unclear whet her t his was an algorit hm change or a Panda-st yle dat a refresh. It ’s “Top Heavy 2″ As Google Rolls Out Updat e To It s Page Layout Algorit hm (SEL) Google Page Layout Algorit hm Officially Updat ed (SER)

Penguin #3 — October 5, 2012
Aft er suggest ing t he next Penguin updat e would be major, Google released a minor Penguin dat a updat e, impact ing "0.3% of queries". Penguin updat e numbering was reboot ed, similar t o Panda - t his was t he 3rd Penguin release. Google Penguin Updat e 3 Released, Impact s 0.3% Of English-Language Queries (SEL) Google Released 3rd Penguin Updat e: Not Jarring Or Jolt ing (SER)

August/September 65-Pack — October 4, 2012
Google published t heir mont hly (bi-mont hly?) list of search highlight s. The 65 updat es for August and Sept ember included 7-result SERPs, Knowledge Graph expansion, updat es t o how "page qualit y" is calculat ed, and changes t o how local result s are det ermined. Search qualit y highlight s: 65 changes for August and Sept ember (Google)

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update — September 27, 2012
Google announced a change in t he way it was handling exact -mat ch domains (EMDs). This led t o large-scale devaluat ion, reducing t he presence of EMDs in t he MozCast dat a set by over 10%. Official word is t hat t his change impact ed 0.6% of queries (by volume). Google's EMD Algo Updat e - Early Dat a (SEOmoz) The EMD Updat e: Google Issues “Weat her Report ” Of Crack Down On Low Qualit y Exact Mat ch Domains (SEL)

Panda #20 — September 27, 2012
Overlapping t he EMD updat e, a fairly major Panda updat e (algo + dat a) rolled out , officially affect ing 2.4% of queries. As t he 3.X series was get t ing odd, indust ry sources opt ed t o st art naming Panda updat es in order (t his was t he 20t h). 20t h Google Panda Algorit hm Updat e: Fairly Major (SER) How Do You Know If Google Panda Or EMD Hurt Your Sit e? (SER)

Panda 3.9.2 (#19) — September 18, 2012
Google rolled out anot her Panda refresh, which appears t o have been dat a-only. Ranking flux was moderat e but not on par wit h a largescale algorit hm updat e. Google Rolls Out Panda 3.9.2 Refresh (SER) Panda Updat e 3.92 Rolling Out (Or Is It Panda 20 Time?) (SEL)

Panda 3.9.1 (#18) — August 20, 2012
Google rolled out yet anot her Panda dat a updat e, but t he impact seemed t o be fairly small. Since t he Panda 3.0 series ran out of numbers at 3.9, t he new updat e was dubbed 3.9.1.

Confirmed: Google Panda 3.9.1 Updat e (SER) Google Panda Refresh On August 19t h: Version 3.9.1 (SEL)

7-Result SERPs — August 14, 2012
Google made a significant change t o t he Top 10, limit ing it t o 7 result s for many queries. Our research showed t hat t his change rolled out over a couple of days, finally impact ing about 18% of t he keywords we t racked. SERP Crowding & Shrinkage: It 's Not Your Imaginat ion (SEOmoz) 7 Is The New 10? Google Showing Fewer Result s & More From Same Domain (SEL)

DMCA Penalty — August 10, 2012
Google announced t hat t hey would st art penalizing sit es wit h repeat copyright violat ions, probably via DMCA t akedown request s. Timing was st at ed as "st art ing next week" (8/13?). An updat e t o our search algorit hms (Google) The Emanuel Updat e: Google Will Penalize Sit es Repeat edly Accused Of Copyright Infringement (SEL)

June/July 86-Pack — August 10, 2012
Aft er a summer hiat us, t he June and July Search Qualit y Highlight s were rolled out in one mega-post . Major updat es included Panda dat a and algorit hm refreshes, an improved rank-ordering funct ion (?), a ranking boost for "t rust ed sources", and changes t o sit e clust ering. Search qualit y highlight s: 86 changes for June and July (Google) Google’s June-July Updat es: Sit e Clust ering, Sit elinks Changes & Focus On Page Qualit y (SEL)

Panda 3.9 (#17) — July 24, 2012
A mont h aft er Panda 3.8, Google rolled out a new Panda updat e. Rankings fluct uat ed for 5-6 days, alt hough no single day was high enough t o st and out . Google claimed ~1% of queries were impact ed. Official: Google Panda 3.9 Refresh (SER)

Link Warnings — July 19, 2012
In a repeat of March/April, Google sent out a large number of unnat ural link warnings via Google Webmast er Tools. In a complet e t urnaround, t hey t hen announced t hat t hese new warnings may not act ually represent a serious problem. Insanit y: Google Sends New Link Warnings, Then Says You Can Ignore Them (SEL) Google Sends Out New Bat ch Of Unnat ural Link Not ificat ions (SER)

Panda 3.8 (#16) — June 25, 2012
Google rolled out anot her Panda dat a refresh, but t his appeared t o be dat a only (no algorit hm changes) and had a much smaller impact t han Panda 3.7. Official Google Panda Updat e Version 3.8 On June 25t h (SEL) Google Panda 3.8 Live: June 25t h & Refresh Only (SER)

Panda 3.7 (#15) — June 8, 2012
Google rolled out yet anot her Panda dat a updat e, claiming t hat less t han 1% of queries were affect . Ranking fluct uat ion dat a suggest ed t hat t he impact was subst ant ially higher t han previous Panda updat es (3.5, 3.6). Confirmed: Google Panda 3.7 Updat e (SER) The Bigfoot Updat e (AKA Dr. Pet e Goes Crazy) (SEOmoz)

May 39-Pack — June 7, 2012
Google released t heir mont hly Search Highlight s, wit h 39 updat es in May. Major changes included Penguin improvement s, bet t er linkscheme det ect ion, changes t o t it le/snippet rewrit ing, and updat es t o Google News. Search qualit y highlight s: 39 changes for May (Google) Google’s May Updat es: Inorganic Backlinks, Page Tit les, Fresh Result s & More (SEL)

Penguin 1.1 (#2) — May 25, 2012
Google rolled out it s first t arget ed dat a updat e aft er t he "Penguin" algorit hm updat e. This confirmed t hat Penguin dat a was being

processed out side of t he main search index, much like Panda dat a. Google Releases Penguin Updat e 1.1 (SEL)

Knowledge Graph — May 16, 2012
In a major st ep t oward semant ic search, Google st art ed rolling out "Knowledge Graph", a SERP-int egrat ed display providing supplement al object about cert ain people, places, and t hings. Expect t o see "knowledge panels" appear on more and more SERPs over t ime. Also, Danny Sullivan's favorit e Trek is ST:Voyager?! Int roducing t he Knowledge Graph: t hings, not st rings (Google) Google Launches Knowledge Graph To Provide Answers, Not Just Links (SEL)

April 52-Pack — May 4, 2012
Google published det ails of 52 updat es in April, including changes t hat were t ied t o t he "Penguin" updat e. Ot her highlight s included a 15% larger "base" index, improved paginat ion handling, and a number of updat es t o sit elinks. Search qualit y highlight s: 52 changes for April (Google) Google’s April Updat es: Bigger & Tiered Index, Document Ranking, Sit elink Changes & More (SEL)

Panda 3.6 (#14) — April 27, 2012
Barely a week aft er Panda 3.5, Google rolled out yet anot her Panda dat a updat e. The implicat ions of t his updat e were unclear, and it seemed t hat t he impact was relat ively small. Confirmed: Panda Updat e 3.6 Happened On April 27t h (SEL)

Penguin — April 24, 2012
Aft er weeks of speculat ion about an "Over-opt imizat ion penalt y", Google finally rolled out t he "Webspam Updat e", which was soon aft er dubbed "Penguin." Penguin adjust ed a number of spam fact ors, including keyword st uffing, and impact ed an est imat ed 3.1% of English queries. Anot her st ep t o reward high-qualit y sit es (Google) The Penguin Updat e: Google’s Webspam Algorit hm Get s Official Name (SEL) Google Penguin Updat e Recovery Tips & Advice (SEL) Two Weeks In, Google Talks Penguin Updat e, Ways To Recover & Negat ive SEO (SEL)

Panda 3.5 (#13) — April 19, 2012
In t he middle of a busy week for t he algort him, Google quiet ly rolled out a Panda dat a updat e. A mix of changes made t he impact difficult t o measure, but t his appears t o have been a fairly rout ine updat e wit h minimal impact . Google Mocks Me For Missing Panda 3.5 (SER)

Parked Domain Bug — April 16, 2012
Aft er a number of webmast ers report ed ranking shuffles, Google confirmed t hat a dat a error had caused some domains t o be mist akenly t reat ed as parked domains (and t hereby devalued). This was not an int ent ional algorit hm change. Dropped In Rankings? Google’s Mist ake Over Parked Domains Might Be To Blame (SEL) Updat ed: Google Updat e April 2012? Over SEO Penalt y? (SER)

March 50-Pack — April 3, 2012
Google post ed anot her bat ch of updat e highlight s, covering 50 changes in March. These included confirmat ion of Panda 3.4, changes t o anchor-t ext "scoring", updat es t o image search, and changes t o how queries wit h local int ent are int erpret ed. Search qualit y highlight s: 50 changes for March (Google) Google’s March Updat es: Anchor Text , Image Search, Navigat ional Search & More (SEL)

Panda 3.4 (#12) — March 23, 2012
Google announced anot her Panda updat e, t his t ime via Twit t er as t he updat e was rolling out . Their public st at ement s est imat ed t hat Panda 3.4 impact ed about 1.6% of search result s. Google Says Panda 3.4 Is ‘Rolling Out Now’ (SEL)

Search Quality Video — March 12, 2012
This wasn't an algorit hm updat e, but Google published a rare peek int o a search qualit y meet ing. For anyone int erest ed in t he algorit hm,

t he video provides a lot of cont ext t o bot h Google's process and t heir priorit ies. It 's also a chance t o see Amit Singhal in act ion. Video! The search qualit y meet ing, uncut (Google)

Panda 3.3 (#11) — February 27, 2012
Google rolled out anot her post -"flux" Panda updat e, which appeared t o be relat ively minor. This came just 3 days aft er t he 1-year anniversary of Panda, an unprecedent ed lifespan for a named updat e. Google Confirms Panda 3.3 Updat e (SEL) Confirmed: Google Panda 3.3 (SER)

February 40-Pack (2) — February 27, 2012
Google published a second set of "search qualit y highlight s" at t he end of t he mont h, claiming more t han 40 changes in February. Not able changes included mult iple image-search updat es, mult iple freshness updat es (including phasing out 2 old bit s of t he algorit hm), and a Panda updat e. Search qualit y highlight s: 40 changes for February (Google)

Venice — February 27, 2012
As part of t heir mont hly updat e, Google ment ioned code-name "Venice". This local updat e appeared t o more aggressively localize organic result s and more t ight ly int egrat e local search dat a. The exact roll-out dat e was unclear. Underst and and Rock t he Google Venice Updat e (SEOmoz) Google Venice Updat e – New Ranking Opport unit ies for Local SEO (Cat alyst eMarket ing)

February 17-Pack — February 3, 2012
Google released anot her round of "search qualit y highlight s" (17 in all). Many relat ed t o speed, freshness, and spell-checking, but one major announcement was t ight er int egrat ion of Panda int o t he main search index. 17 search qualit y highlight s: January (Google) Google’s January Search Updat e: Panda In The Pipelines, Fresher Result s, Dat e Det ect ion & More (SEL)

Ads Above T he Fold — January 19, 2012
Google updat ed t heir page layout algorit hms t o devalue sit es wit h t oo much ad-space above t he "fold". It was previously suspect ed t hat a similar fact or was in play in Panda. The updat e had no official name, alt hough it was referenced as "Top Heavy" by some SEOs. Page layout algorit hm improvement (Google) Pages Wit h Too Many Ads “Above The Fold” Now Penalized By Google’s “Page Layout ” Algorit hm (SEL)

Panda 3.2 (#10) — January 18, 2012
Google confirmed a Panda dat a updat e, alt hough suggest ed t hat t he algorit hm hadn't changed. It was unclear how t his fit int o t he "Panda Flux" scheme of more frequent dat a updat es. Confirmed: Google Panda 3.2 Updat e (SEW) Google Panda 3.2 Updat e Confirmed (SEL)

Search + Your World — January 10, 2012
Google announced a radical shift in personalizat ion - aggressively pushing Google+ social dat a and user profiles int o SERPs. Google also added a new, prominent t oggle but t on t o shut off personalizat ion. Search, plus Your World (Google) Real-Life Examples Of How Google’s “Search Plus” Pushes Google+ Over Relevancy (SEL)

January 30-Pack — January 5, 2012
Google announced 30 changes over t he previous mont h, including image search landing-page qualit y det ect ion, more relevant sit e-links, more rich snippet s, and relat ed-query improvement s. The line bet ween an "algo updat e" and a "feat ure" got a bit more blurred. 30 search qualit y highlight s - wit h codenames! (Google) Google Announces “Megasit elinks,” Image Search Improvement s & Bet t er Byline Dat es (SEL)

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2000

2011 Updates
December 10-Pack — December 1, 2011
Google out lined a second set of 10 updat es, announcing t hat t hese post s would come every mont h. Updat es included relat ed query refinement s, parked domain det ect ion, blog search freshness, and image search freshness. The exact dat es of each updat e were not provided. Search qualit y highlight s: new mont hly series on algorit hm changes (Google) Google: Parked Domains, Scraper Sit es Target ed Among New Search Changes (SEL)

Panda 3.1 (#9) — November 18, 2011
Aft er Panda 2.5, Google ent ered a period of "Panda Flux" where updat es st art ed t o happen more frequent ly and were relat ively minor. Some indust ry analyst s called t he 11/18 updat e 3.1, even t hough t here was no official 3.0. For t he purposes of t his hist ory, we will discont inue numbering Panda updat es except for very high-impact changes. Google Panda 3.1 Updat e: 11/18 (SER)

10-Pack of Updates — November 14, 2011
This one was a bit unusual. In a bid t o be more t ransparent , Mat t Cut t s released a post wit h 10 recent algorit hm updat es. It 's not clear what t he t imeline was, and most were small updat es, but it did signal a shift in how Google communicat es algorit hm changes. Ten recent algorit hm changes (Google) Improved Snippet s, Rank Boost For “Official” Pages Among 10 New Google Algorit hm Changes (SEL)

Freshness Update — November 3, 2011
Google announced t hat an algorit hm change rewarding freshness would impact up t o 35% of queries (almost 3X t he publicly st at ed impact of Panda 1.0). This updat e primarly affect ed t ime-sensit ive result s, but signalled a much st ronger focus on recent cont ent . Giving you fresher, more recent search result s (Google) Google Search Algorit hm Change For Freshness To Impact 35% Of Searches (SEL)

Query Encryption — October 18, 2011
Google announced t hey would be encrypt ing search queries, for privacy reasons. Unfort unat ely, t his disrupt ed organic keyword referral dat a, ret urning "(not provided)" for some organic t raffic. This number increased in t he weeks following t he launch. Making search more secure (Google) Google Hides Search Referral Dat a wit h New SSL Implement at ion (SEOmoz)

Panda "Flux" (#8) — October 5, 2011
Mat t Cut t s t weet ed: "expect some Panda-relat ed flux in t he next few weeks" and gave a figure of "~2%". Ot her minor Panda updat es occurred on 10/3, 10/13, and 11/18. Taking a Closer Look at t he Google’s Panda 2.5 “Flux” (SEL) “Minor” Google Panda Updat e On November 18t h (SEL)

Panda 2.5 (#7) — September 28, 2011
Aft er more t han mont h, Google rolled out anot her Panda updat e. Specific det ails of what changed were unclear, but some sit es report ed large-scale losses. Confirmed: Google Panda 2.5 Updat e Arrived This Week (SEL) Google Panda 2.5: Losers Include Today Show, The Next Web; Winners Include YouTube, Fox News (SEL)

516 Algo Updates — September 21, 2011
This wasn't an updat e, but it was an amazing revelat ion. Google CEO Eric Schmidt t old Congress t hat Google made 516 updat es in 2010. The real shocker? They t est ed over 13,000 updat es. Eric Schmidt 's Congressional Test imony (SEL)

Pagination Elements — September 15, 2011
To help fix crawl and duplicat ion problems creat ed by paginat ion, Google int roduced t he rel="next " and rel="prev" link at t ribut es. Google also announced t hat t hey had improved aut omat ic consolidat ion and canonicalizat ion for "View All" pages. Paginat ion wit h rel=“next ” and rel=“prev” (Google)

Google Provides New Opt ions for Paginat ed Cont ent (SEL)

Expanded Sitelinks — August 16, 2011
Aft er experiment ing for a while, Google officially rolled out expanded sit e-links, most oft en for brand queries. At first , t hese were 12packs, but Google appeared t o limit t he expanded sit e-links t o 6 short ly aft er t he roll-out . The evolut ion of sit elinks: expanded and improved (Google) Official: Google Sit elinks Expands To 12 Pack (SEL)

Panda 2.4 (#6) — August 12, 2011
Google rolled Panda out int ernat ionally, bot h for English-language queries globally and non-English queries except for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Google report ed t hat t his impact ed 6-9% of queries in affect ed count ries. High-qualit y sit es algorit hm launched in addit ional languages (Google) Google’s Panda Updat e Launches Int ernat ionally in Most Languages (SEL)

Panda 2.3 (#5) — July 23, 2011
Webmast er chat t er suggest ed t hat Google rolled out yet anot her updat e. It was unclear whet her new fact ors were int roduced, or t his was simply an updat e t o t he Panda dat a and ranking fact ors. Official: Google Panda 2.3 Updat e Is Live (SEL) A Holist ic Look at Panda wit h Vanessa Fox (St one Temple)

Google+ — June 28, 2011
Aft er a number of social media failures, Google launched a serious at t ack on Facebook wit h Google+. Google+ revolved around circles for sharing cont ent , and was t ight ly int egrat ed int o product s like Gmail. Early adopt ers were quick t o jump on board, and wit hin 2 weeks Google+ reached 10M users. Int roducing t he Google+ project : Real-life sharing, ret hought for t he web (Google) Larry Page On Google+: Over 10 Million Users, 1 Billion It ems Being Shared Per Day (TechCrunch)

Panda 2.2 (#4) — June 21, 2011
Google cont inued t o updat e Panda-impact ed sit es and dat a, and version 2.2 was officially acknowledged. Panda updat es occurred separat ely from t he main index and not in real-t ime, reminiscent of early Google Dance updat es. Official: Google Panda Updat e 2.2 Is Live (SEL) Why Google Panda Is More A Ranking Fact or Than Algorit hm Updat e (SEL)

Schema.org — June 2, 2011
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft joint ly announced support for a consolidat ed approach t o st ruct ured dat a. They also creat ed a number of new "schemas", in an apparent bid t o move t oward even richer search result s. Google, Bing & Yahoo Unit e To Make Search List ings Richer Through St ruct ured Dat a (SEL) What is Schema.org? (Schema.org)

Panda 2.1 (#3) — May 9, 2011
Init ially dubbed “Panda 3.0”, Google appeared t o roll out yet anot her round of changes. These changes weren’t discussed in det ail by Google and seemed t o be relat ively minor. It ’s Panda Updat e 2.1, Not Panda 3.0, Google Says (SEL) Google Panda 3.0 (SERoundt able)

Panda 2.0 (#2) — April 11, 2011
Google rolled out t he Panda updat e t o all English queries worldwide (not limit ed t o English-speaking count ries). New signals were also int egrat ed, including dat a about sit es users blocked via t he SERPs direct ly or t he Chrome browser. High-qualit y sit es algorit hm goes global, incorporat es user feedback (Google) Panda 2.0: Google Rolls Out Panda Updat e Int ernat ionally & Incorporat es Searcher Blocking Dat a (SEL)

T he +1 Button — March 30, 2011
Responding t o compet it ion by major social sit es, including Facebook and Twit t er, Google launched t he +1 but t on (direct ly next t o result s links). Clicking [+1] allowed users t o influence search result s wit hin t heir social circle, across bot h organic and paid result s. Recommendat ions when you want t hem (Google)

Meet +1: Google's Answer To The Facebook Like But t on (SEL)

Panda/Farmer — February 23, 2011
A major algorit hm updat e hit sit es hard, affect ing up t o 12% of search result s (a number t hat came direct ly from Google). Panda seemed t o crack down on t hin cont ent , cont ent farms, sit es wit h high ad-t o-cont ent rat ios, and a number of ot her qualit y issues. Panda rolled out over at least a couple of mont hs, hit t ing Europe in April 2011. The 'Panda' That Hat es Farms: A Q&A Wit h Google's Top Search Engineers (Wired) Google's Farmer/Panda Updat e: Analysis of Winners vs. Losers (SEOmoz)

Attribution Update — January 28, 2011
In response t o high-profile spam cases, Google rolled out an updat e t o help bet t er sort out cont ent at t ribut ion and st op scrapers. According t o Mat t Cut t s, t his affect ed about 2% of queries. It was a clear precursor t o t he Panda updat es. Algorit hm Change Launched (Mat t Cut t s) Lat est Google Algorit hm change (Search News Cent ral)

Overstock.com Penalty — January 2011
In a rare t urn of event s, a public out ing of shady SEO pract ices by Overst ock.com result ed in a very public Google penalt y. JCPenney was hit wit h a penalt y in February for similar bad behavior. Bot h sit uat ions represent ed a shift in Google's at t it ude and foreshadowed t he Panda updat e. Google Penalizes Overst ock for Search Tact ics (WSJ) Overst ock.com's Google Rankings - Too Good? (WMW)

2010 Updates
Social Signals — December 2010
Google and Bing confirmed t hat t hey use social signals in det ermining ranking, including dat a from Twit t er and Facebook. Mat t Cut t s confirmed t hat t his was a relat ively new development for Google, alt hough many SEOs had long suspect ed it would happen. What Social Signals Do Google & Bing Really Count ? (SEL) Google Webmast er Video Reconfirms Use Of Social Signals (SEL)

Negative Reviews — December 2010
Aft er an expose in t he New York Times about how e-commerce sit e DecorMyEyes was ranking based on negat ive reviews, Google made a rare move and react ively adjust ed t he algorit hm t o t arget sit es using similar t act ics. A Bully Finds a Pulpit on t he Web (NY Times) Being bad t o your cust omers is bad for business (Google)

Instant Previews — November 2010
A magnifying glass icon appeared on Google search result s, allowing search visit ors t o quickly view a preview of landing pages direct ly from SERPs. This signaled a renewed focus for Google on landing page qualit y, design, and usabilit y. Beyond Inst ant Result s: Inst ant Previews (Google)

Google Instant — September 2010
Expanding on Google Suggest , Google Inst ant launched, displaying search result s as a query was being t yped. SEOs everywhere nearly spont aneously combust ed, only t o realize t hat t he impact was ult imat ely fairly small. About Google Inst ant (Google) Google Inst ant : Fewer Changes t o SEO t han t he Average Algo Updat e (SEOmoz)

Brand Update — August 2010
Alt hough not a t radit ional algorit hm updat e, Google st art ed allowing t he same domain t o appear mult iple t imes on a SERP. Previously, domains were limit ed t o 1-2 list ings, or 1 list ing wit h indent ed result s. Google Search Result s Dominat ed By One Domain (SEL)

Caffeine (Rollout) — June 2010
Aft er mont hs of t est ing, Google finished rolling out t he Caffeine infrast ruct ure. Caffeine not only boost ed Google's raw speed, but int egrat ed crawling and indexat ion much more t ight ly, result ing in (according t o Google) a 50% fresher index. Our new search index: Caffeine (Google) Google’s New Indexing Infrast ruct ure “Caffeine” Now Live (SEL)

May Day — May 2010
In lat e April and early May, webmast ers not iced significant drops in t heir long-t ail t raffic. Mat t Cut t s lat er confirmed t hat May Day was an algorit hm change impact ing t he long-t ail. Sit es wit h large-scale t hin cont ent seemed t o be hit especially hard, foreshadowing t he Panda updat e. Google Search Result s Dominat ed By One Domain (SEL) Video: Google's Mat t Cut t s On May Day Updat e (SERoundt able)

Google Places — April 2010
Alt hough "Places" pages were rolled out in Sept ember of 2009, t hey were originally only a part of Google Maps. The official launch of Google Places re-branded t he Local Business Cent er, int egrat ed Places pages more closely wit h local search result s, and added a number of feat ures, including new local advert ising opt ions. Google Local Business Cent er Becomes "Google Places" (SEL) Int roducing Google Places (Google)

2009 Updates
Real-time Search — December 2009
This t ime, real-t ime search was for real- Twit t er feeds, Google News, newly indexed cont ent , and a number of ot her sources were int egrat ed int o a real-t ime feed on some SERPs. Sources cont inued t o expand over t ime, including social media. Google Launches Real Time Search Result s (SEL)

Caffeine (Preview) — August 2009
Google released a preview of a massive infrast ruct ure change, designed t o speed crawling, expand t he index, and int egrat e indexat ion and ranking in nearly real-t ime. The t imeline spanned mont hs, wit h t he final rollout st art ing in t he US in early 2010 and last ing unt il t he summer. Google Caffeine: A Det ailed Test of t he New Google (Mashable) Help t est some next -generat ion infrast ruct ure (Google)

Rel-canonical T ag — February 2009
Google, Microsoft , and Yahoo joint ly announced support for t he Canonical Tag, allowing webmast ers t o send canonicalizat ion signals t o search bot s wit hout impact ing human visit ors. Learn about t he Canonical Link Element in 5 minut es (Mat t Cut t s.com) Canonical URL Tag - The Most Import ant Advancement in SEO Pract ices Since Sit emaps (SEOmoz)

Vince — February 2009
SEOs report ed a major updat e t hat seemed t o st rongly favor big brands. Mat t Cut t s called Vince a "minor change", but ot hers felt it had profound, long-t erm implicat ions. Big Brands - Google Brand Promot ion: New Search Engine Rankings Place Heavy Emphasis on Branding (SEO Book) Google's Vince Updat e Produces Big Brand Rankings; Google Calls It A Trust "Change" (SEL)

2008 Updates
Google Suggest — August 2008
In a major change t o t heir logo-and-a-box home-page Google int roduced Suggest , displaying suggest ed searches in a dropdown below t he search box as visit ors t yped t heir queries. Suggest would lat er go on t o power Google Inst ant . Google.com Finally Get s Google Suggest Feat ure (SEL)

Dewey — April 2008
A large-scale shuffle seemed t o occur at t he end of March and int o early April, but t he specifics were unclear. Some suspect ed Google was pushing it s own int ernal propert ies, including Google Books, but t he evidence of t hat was limit ed. Google's Cut t s Asking for Feedback on March/April '08 Updat e (SERoundt able)

2007 Updates
Buffy — June 2007
In honor of Vanessa Fox leaving Google, t he "Buffy" updat e was christ ened. No one was quit e sure what happened, and Mat t Cut t s suggest ed t hat Buffy was just an accumulat ion of smaller changes. Google "Buffy" Updat e - June Google.com Updat e (SERoundt able) SMX Seat t le wrap-up (Mat t Cut t s.com)

Universal Search — May 2007
While not your t ypical algorit hm updat e, Google int egrat ed t radit ional search result s wit h News, Video, Images, Local, and ot her vert icals, dramat ically changing t heir format . The old 10-list ing SERP was officially dead. Long live t he old 10-list ing SERP. Google 2.0: Google Universal Search (SEL)

2006 Updates
False Alarm — December 2006
There were st irrings about an updat e in December, along wit h some report s of major ranking changes in November, but Google report ed no major changes. Google Updat e Debunked By Mat t Cut t s (SERoundt able)

Supplemental Update — November 2006
Throughout 2006, Google seemed t o make changes t o t he supplement al index and how filt ered pages were t reat ed. They claimed in lat e 2006 t hat supplement al was not a penalt y (even if it somet imes felt t hat way). Confusion Over Google's Supplement al Index (SERoundt able)

2005 Updates
Big Daddy — December 2005
Technically, Big Daddy was an infrast ruct ure updat e (like t he more recent "Caffeine"), and it rolled out over a few mont hs, wrapping up in March of 2006. Big Daddy changed t he way Google handled URL canonicalizat ion, redirect s (301/302) and ot her t echnical issues. Indexing t imeline (Mat t Cut t s.com) Todd, Greg & Mat t Cut t s on WebMast erRadio (SEOmoz)

Jagger — October 2005
Google released a series of updat es, most ly t arget ed at low-qualit y links, including reciprocal links, link farms, and paid links. Jagger rolled out in at least 3 st ages, from roughly Sept ember t o November of 2005, wit h t he great est impact occurring in Oct ober. A Review Of The Jagger 2 Updat e (SERoundt able) Dealing Wit h Consequences of Jagger Updat e (WMW)

Google Local/Maps — October 2005
Aft er launching t he Local Business Cent er in March 2005 and encouraging businesses t o updat e t heir informat ion, Google merged it s Maps dat a int o t he LBC, in a move t hat would event ually drive a number of changes in local SEO. Google Merges Local and Maps Product s (Google)

Gilligan — September 2005
Also called t he "False" updat e ? webmast ers saw changes (probably ongoing), but Google claimed no major algorit hm updat e occurred.

Mat t Cut t s wrot e a blog post explaining t hat Google updat ed (at t he t ime) index dat a daily but Toolbar PR and some ot her met rics only once every 3 mont hs. Google's Cut t s Says Not An Updat e - I Say An Updat e, Just Not A Dance (SEW) What ?s an updat e? (Mat t Cut t s.com)

Personalized Search — June 2005
Unlike previous at t empt s at personalizat ion, which required cust om set t ings and profiles, t he 2005 roll-out of personalized search t apped direct ly int o users? search hist ories t o aut omat ically adjust result s. Alt hough t he impact was small at first , Google would go on t o use search hist ory for many applicat ions. Google Relaunches Personal Search - This Time, It Really Is Personal (SEW) Search get s personal (Google)

XML Sitemaps — June 2005
Google allowed webmast ers t o submit XML sit emaps via Webmast er Tools, bypassing t radit ional HTML sit emaps, and giving SEOs direct (albeit minor) influence over crawling and indexat ion. New "Google Sit emaps" Web Page Feed Program (SEW)

Bourbon — May 2005
"GoogleGuy" (likely Mat t Cut t s) announced t hat Google was rolling out "somet hing like 3.5 changes in search qualit y." No one was sure what 0.5 of a change was, but Webmast er World members speculat ed t hat Bourbon changed how duplicat e cont ent and non-canonical (www vs. non-www) URLs were t reat ed. Google Updat e "Bourbon" (Bat elle Media) Bourbon Updat e Survival Kit (SERoundt able)

Allegra — February 2005
Webmast ers wit nessed ranking changes, but t he specifics of t he updat e were unclear. Some t hought Allegra affect ed t he "sandbox" while ot hers believed t hat LSI had been t weaked. Addit ionally, some speculat ed t hat Google was beginning t o penalize suspicious links. Google's Feb. 2005 Updat e (SEW)

Nofollow — January 2005
To combat spam and cont rol out bound link qualit y, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft collect ively int roduce t he "nofollow" at t ribut e. Nofollow helps clean up unvouched for links, including spammy blog comment s. While not a t radit ional algorit hm updat e, t his change gradually has a significant impact on t he link graph. Google, Yahoo, MSN Unit e On Support For Nofollow At t ribut e For Links (SEW)

2004 Updates
Google IPO — August 2004
Alt hough obviously not an algorit hm updat e, a major event in Google's hist ory - Google sold 19M shares, raised $1.67B in capit al, and set t heir market value at over $20B. By January 2005, Google share prices more t han doubled. Google IPO priced at $85 a share (CNN)

Brandy — February 2004
Google rolled out a variet y of changes, including a massive index expansion, Lat ent Semant ic Indexing (LSI), increased at t ent ion t o anchor t ext relevance, and t he concept of link "neighborhoods." LSI expanded Google's abilit y t o underst and synonyms and t ook keyword analysis t o t he next level. Google's Brandy Updat e Exposed (WebProNews) How To Beat Google's "Brandy" Updat e (Sit ePoint )

Austin — January 2004
What Florida missed, Aust in came in t o clean up. Google cont inued t o crack-down on decept ive on-page t act ics, including invisible t ext and META-t ag st uffing. Some speculat ed t hat Google put t he "Hillt op" algorit hm int o play and began t o t ake page relevance seriously. The lat est on updat e Aust in (Google's January updat e) (SEJ) Google Updat e Aust in: Google Updat e Florida Again (Search-Market ing.info)

2003 Updates
Florida — November 2003
This was t he updat e t hat put updat es (and probably t he SEO indust ry) on t he map. Many sit es lost ranking, and business owners were furious. Florida sounded t he deat h knell for low-value lat e 90s SEO t act ics, like keyword st uffing, and made t he game a whole lot more int erest ing. What Happened To My Sit e On Google? (SEW)

Supplemental Index — September 2003
In order t o index more document s wit hout sacrificing performance, Google split off some result s int o t he "supplement al" index. The perils of having result s go supplement al became a hot ly debat ed SEO t opic, unt il t he index was lat er reint egrat ed. Search Engine Size Wars & Google's Supplement al Result s (SEW)

Fritz — July 2003
The mont hly "Google Dance" finally came t o an end wit h t he "Frit z" updat e. Inst ead of complet ely overhauling t he index on a roughly mont hly basis, Google swit ched t o an increment al approach. The index was now changing daily. Explaining algorit hm updat es and dat a refreshes (Mat t Cut t s) Exclusive: How Google’s Algorit hm Rules t he Web (Wired)

Esmerelda — June 2003
This marked t he last of t he regular mont hly Google updat es, as a more cont inuous updat e process began t o emerge. The "Google Dance" was replaced wit h "Everflux". Esmerelda probably heralded some major infrast ruct ure changes at Google. Google Updat e Esmeralda (Kuro5hin)

Dominic — May 2003
While many changes were observed in May, t he exact nat ure of Dominic was unclear. Google bot s "Freshbot " and "Deepcrawler" scoured t he web, and many sit es report ed bounces. The way Google count ed or report ed backlinks seemed t o change dramat ically. Underst anding Dominic - Part 2 (WMW)

Cassandra — April 2003
Google cracked down on some basic link-qualit y issues, such as massive linking from co-owned domains. Cassandra also came down hard on hidden t ext and hidden links. Google - Updat e "Cassandra" is here (Econsult ancy)

Boston — February 2003
Announced at SES Bost on, t his was t he first named Google updat e. Originally, Google aimed at a major mont hly updat e, so t he first few updat es were a combinat ion of algorit hm changes and major index refreshes (t he so-called "Google Dance"). As updat es became more frequent , t he mont hly idea quickly died.

2002 Updates
1st Documented Update — September 2002
Before "Bost on" (t he first named updat e), t here was a major shuffle in t he Fall of 2002. The det ails are unclear, but t his appeared t o be more t han t he mont hly Google Dance and PageRank updat e. As one webmast er said of Google: "t hey move t he t oilet mid st ream". Sept ember, 2002 Google Updat e Discussion - Part 1 (WMW) Dancing The Google Dance (Level343)

2000 Updates
Google T oolbar — December 2000
Guarant eeing SEO argument s for years t o come, Google launched t heir browser t oolbar, and wit h it , Toolbar PageRank (TBPR). As soon as webmast ers st art ed wat ching TBPR, t he Google Dance began.

Google Launches The Google Toolbar (Google)

Naming Schemes
There’s been no single rhyme or reason t o how Google updat es are named. The first named updat e was christ ened "Bost on" by Webmast er World users, as it was announced at SES Bost on. The next few updat es ("Cassandra", "Dominic", "Esmerelda") were also named by WMW users, users , in a st yle similar t o how hurricanes are named. Once t he mont hly "Google Dance" ended, t hat syst em fell int o disuse. Lat er updat es were named by various sources, including WMW, and major search blogs and forums. Google t hemselves have coined t he occasional name ("Caffeine"), while a few names have been Google-inspired ("Vince" and "Panda" were named aft er Google engineers).

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