A Bit of SEO History: 6 Most Famous Google Algorithm Updates


Google Algorithm Updates


Google makes algorithm changes very regularly it’s impossible to keep count of all their updates. Most of the tweaks are minute and don’t have a major impact on search engine rankings. However, there are some notable algorithm changes rolled out by Google that affected site rankings in a massive way. We’ll take a look at 6 important ones and what they meant for webmasters.


The Google Panda Update – February 24th 2011

This is one of the first updates rolled out by Google to get rid of negative SEO tactics. Google Panda update utilized the site’s quality score to rank its web pages. Some of the factors that determined the site’s quality score included its content, keywords used and quality of links.


Main targets: keyword stuffing, duplicated content, think content and spammy links


The Penguin Update – April 24th 2012

This update was rolled out after realization that many websites had achieved high rankings due to low quality or manipulative links. Google’s algorithm was adjusted to ensure sites that had irrelevant or spammy links no longer achieved a top ranking. As a result, webmasters had to review their link profiles and ensure they only had quality backlinks.


Main targets: spammy links and over-optimized anchor text


Hummingbird Update – August 22nd 2013

While Google’s algorithm continued to place a special importance on keywords, this update was designed to ensure that the results given matched the searcher intent. Therefore, after the update was done some pages would rank even when they did not contain the exact words that the searcher had typed. Webmasters were therefore forced to expand their keyword research to focus on natural language, synonyms and co-occuring terms.


Main targets: keyword stuffing and poor quality content


Pigeon Update – December 22nd 2014

This particular update was meant to affect searches whereby the location played a vital role. Webmasters made changes to improve their local SEO such as getting listed on business directories and getting reviews. However, you need to focus on quality directories that will provide good backlinks and improve your rankings.


Main targets: poor quality local SEO


RankBrain Update – October 26th 2015

As part of the Hummingbird update, RankBrain is an algorithm that attempts to provide searchers with the best matching results after placing a query. After this algorithm was rolled out, web masters had to pay attention to content relevance and perform comprehensive analysis. One step would be to review your top-ranking competitors to discover relevant terms and also expand on your content.


Main targets: Shallow content and poor user experience


Fred Update – March 8th 2017

This update is one of the latest done by Google to improve user experience by catching websites that place more emphasis on generating revenue than giving users quality content. As a result, you need to review your content. Avoid thin content by providing an in-depth view of the subject and making sure you don’t just publish affiliate links or ads that distract the users.


Main targets: Thin content, heavy ads and pages that are full of affiliate links.


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