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2017 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Penguin Refresh – 25th June 2017

    In late June 2017, Google released a major refresh of the previous update Google Penguin. It is considered that it needed tightening up because people still kept spamming links on their websites, and were ranking high on Google - they needed to feel the repercussions. The official advice was to clean up internal anchors, avoid overuse of single words and over-optimised external anchors. A lot of this impacted the bottom half of SERPs.
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    Google Link Quality Update – Fred – 8th March 2017

    Jokingly called "Fred" when the update came out, the name stuck, and this is a spam algorithm update around links. It is generally believed that this update affects content sites that have previously put revenue above helping their users on the site. Many of these sites suffered more than half of their traffic decline. Important points to note:
    • Many of these sites are websites that don't offer anything new based on what other sites in their industry have also published. Try and be something new, something different from what others offer.
    • Many of these sites have content wrapped around ads, where it's difficult to differentiate between them both. To avoid traffic decline, try and separate content and adverts, and don't try and blend them into one.
    • Many of these sites also had what is known as over-advertising, prioritising this above content. Try and stick to the bare minimum of advertising on your website.
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    Google Algorithm Update – 7th February 2017

    Released in February 2017, this was considered to be a relatively big update to the algorithms, with many who watch it closely seeing huge spikes and decreases in rankings. Essentially, it is considered that many of the standard google "no's" such as low-quality user engagement, mobile usability and adverts was again refined further. Important Points:
    • Try and think of your users - keep on top of your site maintenance. Google doesn't like to see broken menus, confusing navigation, excessive pagination. Give the user as little to do to use your site as possible, to get to where they want to go.
    • Ensure that your website is mobile friendly - Google will penalise you, and this has been refined further in this update.
    • Ad Deception - don't try and blend in adverts with your content, it ruins the user experience and may take them somewhere they don't want to go.
    • Ad Aggressiveness - Adverts that take up the whole screen, or push your content around, or ads that distract you from the content, will not rank well with Google. Try and avoid these.
    • If the main content on a page is quite thin, and there is what's known as supplementary content, don't expect your site to rank well. Try and keep the main content full, up-to-date and taking most of the page. It should never be overshadowed by other content, images or adverts.
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    Google Algorithm Update – 1st February 2017

    An unnamed update occurred at the start of February 2017, with the aim of targeting link spam on websites. It's unsure if it's a tweak to Google Penguin, and how it detects spammy links, or a new algorithm altogether, however it's not considered to be working well at the time of roll-out. Although nothing has really been confirmed about this update, it's considered to be an update around how Google discredits spam links.
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    Google interstitial / Popup Mobile Penalty – 10th January 2017

    Google began rolling out their interstitial penalty on this day. Important facts to know are that it focuses solely on mobile devices and interstitials / popups that appear when the page loads once a user has clicked your URL the search results.
    1. Popups that cover any proportion of the page when it loads, this could be your automatic email signup, yes/no options that navigate to other pages, discounts and any other type of banner that auto loads
    2. Stand-alone popups / interstitials that appear to block the main content, only letting the user view once they have entered data or taken an action
    3. Using an interstitial where an above the fold section of the page slides in and pushes the main content under the fold.

2016 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Penguin 4.0 Granular AND Real-time – 23rd September 2016

    After 2 long years of pain Google finally announce the release of Penguin and its slow roll out over the next two weeks. If your rankings changed between 23rd Sept – 10th Oct, it is likely Penguin 4.0 is the cause. Important Points
    • The negative and positive impacts of this penalty will now impact the website as Google crawls it, due to the real time integration into their algorithm
    • Google will no longer be announcing Penguin updates; you have to look for them
    • The update will not impact the whole site any more, and purely focuses on the pages with over optimisation, mainly focused on inbound keyword anchor distribution
    • Google Penaguin 4.0 now devalues spam (attempts to ignore) instead of demoting it (impact rankings). This still relies on them finding and knowing whats bad on the first crawl pass.
    • Gary Illyes mentioned the disavow tool is less needed in a comment, this was quickly taken out of context and he tweeted ‘we haven't changed our
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    Undisclosed Update Penguin Test or Image Drop – 13th September 2016

    Moz recorded a significant 50% drop in search results that have universal or vertical image results. This sort of drop will cause a large shakeup in the search results, however this is unconfirmed by Google and Moz has released no follow ups on any reversal of this change. It is also widely thought that this may have been Google testing the MONSTER Penguin update that would follow a week after.
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    Undisclosed Possum Update – 1st September 2016

    This update was named by the local SEO community and no such confirmation or naming actually came from Google itself. The rumblings of an update began on the forums and the discussions widely indicate that webmasters listings have dropped out of the Local Pack and Local Finder results. One of the key points from the cause mentioned online is the reduction of duplicate and spammy listings in the local search results.
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    Google Mobile Friendly 2 – 12th May 2016

    Much like the original releases of Penguin and Panda, a year on the Mobile-Friendly algorithm gets a core update. The Mobile-Friendly algorithm got a core update to the relevancy signals it receives and to benefit sites adhering in the mobile search guidelines.
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    Unnamed Google Core Algorithm Change – 10th May 2016

    Google’s John Mueller confirmed that to his knowledge, no major updates were rolled out but as always left the comment of ‘we continue to roll out changes’. With major algorithms that impact quality signals like Panda and Rank Brain it is likely that core changes are made to these. But of course this sis speculation and Google have not confirmed.
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    AdWords Placement SERP Shake up – 23rd February 2016

    Google announced its plans to completely change the layout of the search engine results yet again by removing the classic sidebar ads – the adverts that appear on the right hand column. The two exemptions to this are:
    • Product Listing adverts – also known as PLA boxes
    • Knowledge graph adverts – brand and topical searches
    The main knock on impact of this was the 3 ad block at the top of the SERPs extended to 4. This caused a very notable impact to both traditional organic results as well as paid results due to the CTR percentages claimed by these spots in competitive niches.
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    Google Panda & Core Algorithm Update – 10th January 2016

    Google Panda has now been fully integrated into their core ranking algorithm - It will measure the quality of your website in the same way as before but John Mueller 'suggested' that Panda will now be updated on more regular basis now it's merged. The update on the 10th however was simply a core ranking algorithm update and caused a lot of ranking changes.

2015 Google Algorithm Updates

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    App Install Interstitial Penalty – 2nd November 2015

    A core update to the mobile-friendly penalty was released on November 2nd which targeted pages with an app install interstitial that blocks or covers substantial areas of the screen. In particular these are ads that appear during the transition from Googles results to the page and interrupt the user from seeing the content they were searching for. Google recommends using banners or fixed strips on the top or bottom of the screen rather than covering the content.
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    RankBrain Algorithm Update – 26th October 2015

    Google announced that they we integrating a brand new layer (dubbed RankBrain) to their general ranking algorithm that is made up of over 200 factors. Back in August 2013 they released an update called Hummingbird, which was a core algorithm update – RankBrain is a machine learning layer which is merging with hummingbird to digest the 200+ factors and display better results. It’s worth noting that RankBrain is the third most important signal contributing to the SERPS.
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    Hacked Site Algorithm Update – 5th October 2015

    Google announced that they are increasing efforts to safeguard their users and webmasters by removing pages and sites from the results that have been impacted by hacked spam. As the algorithm rolls out they stated that it would impact 5% of search queries – which is a huge amount. Results impacted will be removed from the listings so rather than seeing 10 results per page you may get nine or six for example.
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    Panda 4.2 (#28) – 18th July 2015

    The Panda 4.2 update was announced on 18th July 2015 and is set to impact 2-3% of all search queries. Google officially stated that this update, unlike others, will take months to roll out completely even on a site basis; you may see some pages recover at different times. Normally you will see a definitive increase or decrease, however with this update it’s recommended you use analytics to monitor and compare organic visits on a page by page basis to look for anomalies.
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    Unnamed – Google Core Algorithm Change – 11th June 2015

    Following the core algorithm update dubbed Phantom by SEOs around the world, further large changes in the SERPS began to happen from the 11th June (and continued for a week until a big spike on 17th and 19th June) until it was confirmed by Google on 17th June. Initially it was thought to be Panda as an update was looming, however Googles John Mueller and Gary Illyes both confirmed it was ‘not Panda’ and in fact a core update to their algorithm – As always, no official comment was made on what actually changed, however ranking weather report scores showed a 193% spike in activity on mobile and desktop.
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    Phantom II – Google Core Quality Update – 11th May 2015

    Google confirmed that the update that SEOs dubbed ‘Phantom update’ was in fact a major change to the general algorithm which assesses content quality on your site. There is still no name but we’ll call it the ‘Content Quality Update’. Originally thought to target low quality ‘how-to’ style posts that hit sites like eHow, WikiHow, Hubpages and Answers.com – it is now confirmed to be a general quality assessment of your website.
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    Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm – 21st April 2015

    Google sent out initial warnings through Google Webmaster Tools in early 2015 to give people enough warning to start fixing their sites. It was widely though that this update would not have much impact but in fact Google's Zineb Ait Bahajji stated on March 17th that the ‘mobile ranking update will have a bigger impact than panda or penguin!’ The mobile-friendly algorithm only impacted searches on mobile devices for sites that have no responsive web design or stand alone mobile sites.
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    Doorway pages update – 16th March 2015

    On 16th March Google released an updated statement on their doorway pages policy. This typically falls into three categories:Having multiple pages/location sites that funnel into one channel, pages that are only their to funnel users into usable section of a site and finally pages that are substantially similar with little browseable hierarchy
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    Unnamed Update/Algorithm Activity – 5th February 2015

    Many sites reported seeing a major spike in algorithm activity on this date – however nothing was officially confirmed. Googled denied that it has anything to do with Penguin or Panda.

2014 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Pigeon Expansion – 22nd December 2014

    Google launched its Local Algorithm back in July 2014, and it was eventually named Pigeon by people in the industry. It aimed to provide users with more relevant and accurate local search results and information. This expanded to the UK, Canada and Australia on the 22nd December.
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    Penguin 3.0 Extended – 10th December 2014

    Penguin has changed a lot since the algorithm was first launched – this date saw a Google representative confirm that Penguin had become a series of continuous, smaller updates instead of infrequent, large updates. The spokesperson said that the idea was to constantly keep optimising. SEOs saw an ongoing flux which seemingly confirmed this.
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    Pirate Update 2.0 – 21st October 2014

    Google’s Pirate Update 2.0 highly targeted a small minority of sites, causing a dramatic ranking drop to sites which had previously been sent DMCA takedown requests. This was Google’s second Pirate update, following the first in 2012, and both aimed to cut down pirated software and digital media content.
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    Penguin 3.0 Update – 17th October 2014

    One year after the previous Penguin update, Google rolled out a Penguin 3.0 refresh – which was good news for anyone hit by Penguin 2.0. Google confirmed that those who had been working to clean up sites hit by the previous penalty could expect to see any positive changes in the new update. In short, it helped sites that had cleaned up their act, and penalised those with new spam.
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    “In the News” Box – 13th October 2014

    Google changed its News-box results by expanding news links to a wider set of potential sites. This resulted in greater numbers of news results on SERPs and major traffic charges for big news sites.
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    Panda 4.1 (#27) – 23rd September 2014

    Panda 4.1 was a content-focused update – the new algorithm targeted low quality content and rewarded sites for high quality content that provided valuable information. During the slow roll-out, Google’s aim was to provider greater diversity of high rankings for medium to small business websites with great content. It affected around 3-5% of queries.
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    Google Authorship Removed – 28th August 2014

    After analysing Authorship effectiveness for users over many months, Google removed authorship and authors lost their SERP by-lines overnight. Google no longer processed authorship after this point.
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    HTTPS/SSL Update – 6th August 2014

    Google announced that it would reward sites which took a focus on security. Secure sites using the HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) signal, which added encryption, may have seen a ‘lightweight’ boost in rankings.
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    Google Local Algorithm Update (Pigeon) – 24th July 2014

    July 2014 saw Google launch a local algorithm update in the hope it would provide more relevant, accurate local search results. The update reportedly caused inconsistent results.
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    Google Authorship Photo Drop – 28th June 2014

    Google surprisingly announced that it would be scrapping all SERP authorship photos – despite previously promoting authorship with Google+. It was then highly rumoured that Google would drop authorship altogether, as it eventually did.
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    Payday Loan 3.0 – 12th June 2014

    This was Google’s second Payday Loan update within one month – the Payday Loan 3.0 algorithm targeted queries for payday loan, accident claim and other sites which had a large number of spam updates.
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    Panda 4.0 (#26) – 20th May 2014

    Panda updates generally target websites poor quality content, and Panda 4.0 was no exception. The algorithm update and data refresh affected around 7.5% of English queries. Many reported seeing changes earlier than the 20thMay, believing that the update began rolling out a lot earlier.
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    Payday Loan 2.0 – 16th May 2014

    The exact date of the Payday Loan 2.0 update is unknown but Google announced it around this date. It was an update to the previous payday algorithm, targeting specific websites with spam queries.
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    Unnamed Update/Algorithm Activity – 24th March 2014

    Many users claimed to see huge algorithm changes during March and April, with big fluxes noted around the 24th March. It was believed to be a softer Panda update, targeting low quality content. Although no update was even actually confirmed by Google, many sites saw ranking changes.
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    Page Layout #3/Top Heavy 3 – 6th February 2014

    Google’s layout algorithm targeted “top heavy” website pages which had a disproportionate amount of adds at the top of the page, when compared to the amount of content. Layout updates have been about since the beginning of 2012, penalising sites with too many ads above the fold.

2013 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Authorship Shake-up – 19th December 2013

    One of the most dramatic Google updates of 2013, Authorship Rich Snippet resulted in authorship mark-up disappearing from around 15% of queries within around one month.
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    Unnamed Update – 11th December 2013

    Huge flux trackers reported high activity globally, although Google never confirmed an update. Many believed it affected blogs and SERPs.
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    Unnamed Update – 14th November 2013

    Flux trackers once again announced strange activity on the 14th November 2013, despite no official announcement from Google. It coincided with multiple DNS errors in Webmaster Tools, but the agenda to this update was unclear.
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    Penguin 2.1 Update (#5) – 4th October 2013

    This was Google’s 5th Penguin update – yet again targeting spam. It was mainly thought to be a data update as oppose to a major algorithm change, with a moderate impact. Some webmasters still reported seeing huge changes in traffic though.
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    Hummingbird Update – 21st August 2013

    Thought to be released at some point around this date, the Hummingbird update was a new search algorithm which focused on Semantic Search and the Knowledge Graph. Google aimed to provide users with more personalised results based on factors like location and online behaviour.
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    In-Depth Articles – 6th August 2013

    This date saw Google add ‘in-depth articles’ to its new results types in an attempt to place more focus on evergreen content. According to MozCast trackers it appeared on 3% of searches. It included three article links at launch.
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    Unnamed Update – 26th July 2013

    Global trackers suggested that Google was up to something, but quite what was never confirmed. Unusual activity was claimed over the whole weekend, although the aim of the update was unclear.
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    Knowledge Graph Extension – 19th July 2013

    Knowledge Graph entry queries boomed by over 50%, according to search trackers. It was reported that, from this point, over a quarter of searches showed a Knowledge Graph entry.
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    Panda Recovery – 18th July 2013

    Google announced a Panda update which targeted low-quality, spam content, but it was unclear whether it followed the usual roll-out. It was believed to be an algorithm update which may have softened previous penalties under Panda.
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    Multi-Week Update – 27th June 2013

    On Twitter, Matt Cutts suggested that a multi-week algorithm update would occur between mid-June and July. There were massive ranking changes during this time, but it then appeared to be testing which Google later revoked.
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    Payday Loan & Panda Dance – 11th June 2013

    The 11th June saw two updates from Google – a new Payday Loan update which targeted niche websites with spammy results (specifically payday loan and porn sites), and a Panda Dance update which reportedly caused site rankings to ‘dance’ up and down for days, based on the algorithm’s perception of content quality. This was not an official Panda update.
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    Penguin 2.0 Update (#4) – 8th June 2013

    A few hours before this update’s release, Matt Cutts revealed that the new Penguin algorithm would be able to delve deeper into sites to discover spam content. It was thought to be a finely targeted algorithm update with moderate impact on queries.
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    Domain Crowding – 21st May 2013

    Although the exact timing of this update was unclear, its aim was not – it aimed to control domain diversity within SERPs. The update coincided with Google’s Penguin 2.0 but was not clearly linked.
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    “Phantom” Update – 9th May 2013

    Causing significant ranking loss, this update was never officially announced by Google. The ‘Phantom’ update was said to have a huge impact, according to users in SEO and webmaster forums.
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    Panda Update #25 – 14th May 2013

    As with other Panda updates, this one targeted spam and low quality content. When announcing Panda Update 25, Matt Cutts suggested it would be the last before Panda was integrated with the core algorithm.
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    Panda Update #24 – 22nd January 2013

    This was Google’s first official update for 2013, and it had quite the impact on sites with spam content. It was thought to affect around 1.2% of English search queries.

2012 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Panda Update 23 – 21st December 2012

    This update had a significantly larger impact than the previous two Panda refreshes – affecting 1.3% of English queries. Google rolled out the update just before Christmas, right in the midst of the shopping holiday period, targeting spam content once again.
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    Knowledge Graph Expansion – 4th December 2012

    Google added Knowledge Graph functionality to many non-English queries. The update was applied to Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, Russian and Japanese queries, and was said to be ‘more than just a translation’ update.
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    Panda Update #22 – 21st November 2012

    This spam-targeting Panda update was thought to affect around 0.8% of English queries. It was reported to be a data-only update, which arrived just after an unnamed update on the 19thNovember.
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    Panda Update #21 – 5th November 2012

    The first of two Panda updates in November, spam-targeting update #21 impacted on 1.1% of English queries.
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    Page Layout #2/Top Heavy 2 – 9th October 2012

    Google once again focused on top heavy websites with this update, relating to web pages with too many ads above the fold. Although it was never confirmed whether this was an algorithm change or data refresh, it affected around 0.7% of English queries.
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    Penguin 1.2 (#3) Update – 5th October 2012

    Many webmasters expected Google’s Penguin #3 update to have a large impact, but this was an unexpectedly minor update which only impacted 0.3% of queries. Despite being small it was said to have wider international reach.
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    August/September Roundup 65-Pack Updates – 4th October 2012

    On this date, Google revealed its monthly list of search highlights. It shows 65 updates over August and September focusing on content and feature changes including; 7-result SERPS, updates for page quality calculation, changes to local result determination and Knowledge Graph expansion.
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    Panda Update #20 and Exact Match Domain (EMD) – 27th September 2012

    Panda Update #20 was fairly major, seeing algorithm changes and a data refresh, which resulted in it impacting on 2.4% of queries. This overlapped with the Exact Match Domain (EDM) update too – Google announced a change in the way it handled EDMs in a bid to reduce low quality matches. It officially affected 0.6% queries.
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    Panda 3.9.2 (#19) – 18th September 2012

    This spam content targeting Panda refresh was data-only, having a moderate impact on queries. This was not a large algorithm update – it was a minor refresh affecting 0.7% of searches.
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    Panda 3.9.1 (#18) – 20th August 2012

    Google’s 18th Panda update was a data refresh, focused on spam content as usual, affecting less than 1% of queries.
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    7-Result SERPS – 14th August 2012

    August 2012 saw Google move away from 10 listings per result page, to only 7 results per page. It offered more detail for the site in the number 1 result spot too. The change was thought to roll out over two or three days, impacting on keywords.
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    June/July 86-Pack – 10th August 2012

    Google revealed its June and July search highlights in a post on this date – showing major Panda updates and algorithm changes, boosts in ranking for ‘trusted’ sites and improved rank-ordering functionality.
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    Pirate Update 1.0 / DMCA Penalty – 10th August 2012

    The first of two updates so far, Pirate was Google’s attempt to help copyright owners by penalising sites with multiple copyright violations. This was done via DMCA takedown requests, and some links were dropped by Google completely.
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    Panda Update 3.9 (#17) – 24th July 2012

    Flux trackers showed activity for around 5 days after this Panda spam-focused update, but it wasn’t thought to affect results too dramatically.
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    Link Checks/Warnings – 19th July 2012

    Webmasters were sent pre-penalty, unusual link warnings via Google Webmaster Tools, to let them know the changes that needed to be made. Shortly after, Google announced that these wouldn’t cause too many problems which many webmasters found a confusing back track.
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    Panda 3.8 (#16) – 25th June 2012

    Panda 3.8 was a much smaller data refresh that the previous spam-fighting Panda update and wasn’t thought to impact on many queries.
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    Panda 3.7 (#15) – 8th June 2012

    Despite Google claiming that spam-focused update Panda 3.7 affected less than 1% of English queries, webmasters reported seeing huge changes in traffic which impacted much more highly than more recent updates.
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    May 39-Pack – 7th June 2012

    Once again, Google published its monthly Search Highlights, showing 39 updates within May. Highlights including Penguin enhancements, Google News updates and improved link-scheme detection.
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    Penguin 1.1 Update (#2) – 25th May 2012

    This was Google’s first targeted data refresh following the Penguin algorithm update – it was now being processed more like Panda, in the main search index. Google claimed it affected less than 1%.
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    Knowledge Graph – 16th May 2012

    Knowledge Graph saw Google take a focus on semantic search – it rolled out a SERP-integrated display which provided information on people, things and places. This was expected to grow over time.
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    April 52-Pack – 4th May 2012

    In its latest post, Google revealed April’s 52 updates, which were mainly tied to Penguin. Updates included changes to indexing, algorithms and pagination improvement.
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    Panda 3.6 Update (#14) – 27th April 2012

    Just one week after Panda 3.5, Panda 3.6 followed – the impact seemed small and the reason for such a close update was unclear.
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    Penguin – 24th April 2012

    The original Penguin update was launched by Google to target black hat web spam techniques like keyword stuffing or link schemes for SERPs. It rewarded sites with complying, decent content and penalised those using bad techniques.
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    Panda Update 3.5 (#13) – 19th April 2012

    This Panda update was thought to be relatively small, helping big brands and news outlet sites but not damaging anyone else.
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    Parked Domain Bug – 16th April 2012

    Some unfortunate webmasters reported a shuffle in rankings, but Google actually confirmed this as an error on their part in the end – with some domains mistakenly marked as parked domains.
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    March 50-Pack – 3rd April 2012

    Google’s latest post on Search Update Highlights included 50 changes made in March – Panda 3.4 changes, anchor text scoring updates, image search edits and an updated interpretation of local intent queries.
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    Panda 3.4 (#12) – 23rd March 2012

    The twelfth update to spam-targeting Panda was announced by Google using Twitter – it was estimated to affect around 1.6% of search results.
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    Venice Update, February 40-Pack and Panda 3.3 (#11) – 27th February 2012

    Google revealed a lot on the 27th February 2012 – as well as its monthly search quality highlights which showed 40 February changes, the Venice update aggressively localised organised search and Google rolled out another Panda update. The latter appeared fairly minor, just 3 days after Panda’s 1 year anniversary.
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    February 17-Pack – 3rd February 2012

    Another one of Google’s search highlights posts appeared today, relating to website speed, spelling and site freshness. It also announced tighter Panda integration with the main search index.
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    Page Layout / Ads Above the Fold – 19th January 2012

    This update saw Google update page layout algorithms to target websites with too many ads above the fold on a page. This update was eventually referred to as ‘Top Heavy’ by some webmasters.
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    Panda 3.2 (#10) – 18th January 2012

    This Panda update was different from previous ones – it didn’t involve algorithm changes, just updated Google’s data on affected sites. Data refreshes became more common on Panda updates.
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    Search + Your World – 10th January 2012

    January 2012 saw Google make a shift in its approach to personalisation – pushing Google+ profiles and social data into SERPs. It also added a toggle button the turn this off.
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    January 30-Pack – 5th January 2012

    Google published its search update highlights from January, with 30 changes including more rich snippets, related query improvements, image search landing-page quality detection and more.

2011 Google Algorithm Updates

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    December 10-Pack – 1st December 2011

    Google published its 10 search highlights including auto-complete improvements, a parked domains classifier and refinement of results.
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    Panda Update 3.1 (#9) – 18th November 2011

    The end of 2011 saw a large number of Panda updates, all with very minor consequences – and this was the last of them that year, impacting on less than 1% of searches.
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    Freshness Update – 3rd November 2011

    At this point, Google announced that algorithm changes meant websites would be rewarded for publishing fresh content regularly, placing importance on regular updates. This affected 35% of searches, primarily impacting on time-sensitive results.
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    Query Encryption – 18th October 2011

    For privacy reasons, Google said it would now be encrypting search queries – this disrupted organic keyword data for some organic traffic for many weeks following the launch.
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    Panda “Flux” (#8) – 5th November 2011

    On this date, Matt Cutts tweeted that ‘Panda-related flux’ should be expected over the next few weeks, impacting on less than 2% of queries. Minor Panda updates took place three times throughout October and November.
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    Panda 2.5 (#7) – 28th September 2011

    One month after the previous, Google rolled out Panda 2.5 – taking a focus on deeper analysis of site content quality. Total impact was unclear, but some sites reported large losses.
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    Pagination Elements – 15th September 2011

    Google introduced rel=”next” and rel=”prev” link attributes to reduce crawl and duplication issues due to pagination. It also improved canonicalization for “view all” pages.
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    Expanded Sitelinks – 16th August 2011

    Expanded site-links for brand queries were rolled out on this date, after some experimentation. They rolled out as 12-packs but were reduced to 6-packs not long after this.
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    Panda 2.4 (#6) – 12th August 2011

    Google expanded its Panda reach from changes in English search to all languages – bar Korean, Japanese and Chinese, which were still in testing.
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    Panda 2.3 (#5) – 23rd July 2011

    The fifth Panda update aimed to distinguish more between high and low quality content – it was unclear whether this was an algorithm change or data update.
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    Google+ – 28th June 2011

    Google+ was launched, giving users the ability to create circles for sharing content, while syncing with their email. User numbers grew quickly as they were prompted to join from their email.
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    Panda 2.2 (#4) – 21st June 2011

    Google formally acknowledged Panda 2.2, an update which occurred separately from the main-index at first. It targeted sites which gained content by scraping it from an original source, ensuring they ranked below the original content owner.
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    Schema.org – 2nd June 2011

    Along with Yahoo and Microsoft, Google announced that it would be adding support for a united approach to structured data. As part of this, they added new ‘schemas’ to enrich search results.
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    Panda 2.1 (#3) – 9th May 2011

    Panda 2.1 was never officially announced by Google, but some webmasters reported a minor flux.
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    Panda 2.0 (#2) – 11th April 2011

    The second Panda update saw Google roll it out to queries globally – it was no longer limited to English language countries.
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    The +1 Button – 30th March 2011

    In a bid to compete with major social network competition, Google introduced the +1 button, allowing users to influence search results through recommendation – it affected both organic and paid search.
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    Panda 1.0 – 23rd February 2011

    Google launched its first ever Panda update, changing the algorithm to target link farms and low quality or spam content. It was an absolutely huge update which affected around 12% of searches. The Panda update was the beginning of huge changes in SEO, and has affected many sites since.
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    Attribution Update – 29th January 2011

    This update targeted scrapers, intending to better sort content attribution. This was reported to impact around 2% of queries – and was clearly linked to the forthcoming Panda updates.
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    Overstock.com Penalty – 1st January 2011

    Overstock.com publicly shamed bad SEO practices, and this actually resulted in a very obvious, public Google penalty. It was at this point that people saw Google’s attitude towards spammy SEO practices change – pushing them closer to the first Panda update.

2010 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Negative Reviews – 1st December 2010

    Google changed its algorithm to target sites using negative reviews to increase rankings, following a New York Times article on an ecommerce site doing just that.
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    Social Signals – 1st December 2010

    Matt Cutts confirmed a new development this month, where social signals from sites such as Facebook and Twitter were be used to determine site ranking.
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    Google Instant – 8th August 2010

    This new feature made search entry faster, by automatically suggesting search term completion options as the user enters them.
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    Brand Update – 1st August 2010

    This wasn’t a traditional algorithm update, but it was relevant. It allowed the same domain to appear more than once on a SERP. Before this point, one domain was restricted to one or maybe two listings.
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    Caffeine Update – 8th June 2010

    Caffeine was announced as Google’s new web indexing system. As a result of the update, searches were expected to provide around 50% fresher content than before and Google’s web content collection grew hugely.
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    Mayday Update – 1st May 2010

    This update aimed to reward higher quality websites by ensuring they surfaced for long tail queries. Some webmasters noticed big drops in their long-tail traffic. This was another content-focused updated, in the run up to Panda.
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    Google Places – 20th April 2010

    April 2010 saw the introduction of Google Places, resulting in better search and find functionality for local businesses. It marked the change of Google Local Business Centre to Places.

2009 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Real-time Search – 1st December 2009

    The introduction of real-time search saw a number of sources including Twitter feeds and newly indexed content integrated into a real-time feed on SERPs. This then continued to expand.
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    Caffeine Introduction – 1st August 2009

    At this point, Google previewed their next-gen infrastructure and invited people to help them in testing it. It was named Caffeine as that was the word people were told to use in the feedback form when suggesting improvements.
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    Vince Changes – 20th February 2009

    This update focused on aspects like reputation, trust and authority – which boosted big brands towards the top end of the SERPs. Google started focusing more on high quality results.
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    Rel-canonical Tag – 1st February 2009

    Microsoft, Yahoo and Google announced new support for Canonical Tags, so that webmasters could send canonicalization signals without affecting their users.

2008 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Google Suggest – 1st August 2008

    This huge update introduced the feature we now use every day – from this point Google attempted to auto-complete your search by suggesting other relevant terms.
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    Dewey Update – 2nd April 2008

    Although it wasn’t clear what changes were being made, many SEO practitioners noticed big changes in Google’s search results.

2007 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Buffy Update – 17th June 2007

    This was a collection of updates affecting single word search results.
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    Universal Search – 16th May 2007

    This did what it said on the tin, it made searches more ‘universal’ by including blog, video, images, news, local and book listings within Google’s web results.

2006 Google Algorithm Updates

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    False Alarm – 1st December 2006

    Some people reported major ranking changes in December, but Google never confirmed this.
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    Supplement Update – 1st November 2006

    Throughout the year people believes that Google had made changes to its supplemental index. It was claimed not to be a penalty, but not everyone would agree with Google on that one.

2005 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Big Daddy Update – 1st November 2005

    Google implemented an infrastructure update, changing how it dealt with redirects and canonicalization amongst other factors. The update was deployed between November 2005 and March 2006.
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    Jagger Update – 19th October 2005

    Jagger was an update series which targeted low quality links including paid links, link farms and reciprocal links – in a bid to target spamming. The greatest impact from this update was felt in October.
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    Google Local / Maps Integration – 6th October 2005

    Google merged Maps into its Local Business Centre, a move which eventually drove big SEO changes.
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    Gilligan Update – 8th September 2005

    Gilligan was named a ‘refresh’ by Google, but major changes to the search engine index were observed.
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    Personalised Search – 28th June 2005

    At this point, Google started using personal search history to get users more accurate results.
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    XML Sitemaps – 2nd June 2005

    Google gave webmasters influence over indexing and crawling, by allowing them to submit XML sitemaps containing URLS they wanted crawled using Webmaster Tools, instead of submitting HTML sitemaps.
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    Bourbon Update – 20th May 2005

    Google changed how it handled non-canonical URLs and duplicate content with this update – impacting on 2.5% of queries.
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    Allegra Update – 2nd February 2005

    The actual intention of this update was unclear, but many thought Google’s Allegra affected Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) or the ‘sandbox’, while others thought it was the start of suspicious link penalisation.
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    Nofollow – 18th January 2005

    Google’s new Nofollow feature allowed webmasters to attribute rel=”nofollow” to links which had been added by others in comment areas, telling Google not to accredit the inbound link credit to the site it’s directing to. This was bid by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to combat spam.

2004 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Brandy Update – 17th February 2004

    This update included Google index expansion, a new focus on relevant anchor text, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) and inbound link quality. This was said to improve Google’s keyword analysis hugely.
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    Austin Update – 23rd January 2004

    Following on from previous update Florida, Austin cracked down on unconventional SEO practices like META-tag stuffing. Many webmasters reported being impacted largely by the update.

2003 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Florida Update – 16th November 2003

    Google’s Florida update caused quite the stir, and affected a huge number of websites and business owners. It targeted outdated, unconventional tactics such as keyword stuffing. At this point it was clear that Google’s attitude to page relevance was changing dramatically.
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    Fritz Update – 1st July 2003

    Before this point, Google practiced monthly indexed updates, but Fritz saw a percentage of the index updated every day in much faster, more accurate way. These were named as ‘everflux’.
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    Esmerelda Update – 15th June 2003

    This was another Google update which targeted manipulative SEO tactics such as hidden links, text and poor backlinks.
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    Dominic Update – 14th May 2003

    This update built on predecessor Cassandra, targeting underhand link building tactics.
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    Cassandra Update – 12th April 2003

    Following this update, Google allowed banned sites to submit reconsideration requests for the first time. The update itself focused on poor quality or hidden links and text.
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    Boston Update – 7th March 2003

    Boston was the first, official Google update which aimed to conduct deeper analysis of backlink data. This impacted on SERPs.

2002 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Google Dance – 26th September 2002

    This was Google’s first ever major, official update. It appeared that Google was taking a focus on relevance ranking and the quality of anchor text.

2000 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Google Toolbar – 11th December 2000

    This saw Google launch its browser toolbar, allowing users to search Google or any page within any website from the toolbar – even if that website didn’t have its own search engine. With it launched Toolbar PageRank.

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