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2019 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Domain Leasing Penalizing – 29th August 2019

    Google issued a warning that sites who lease out their subdomains, subfolders etc so that other companies can rank their content better, that they would soon be penalized.

    It has been seen that sites who have leased domains suddenly started seeing their rankings drop within the search engine results

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    Minor Search Ranking Algorithm Update – 1st August 2019

    Once again, at the start of August, many across the web were seeing signs of a Google search ranking update rolling out.

    Google has never officially confirmed this update, but as they've said in the past they don't confirm smaller core updates (of which, this is presumably one), then this one is best left to our own interpretations.

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    July 2019: Update Maverick – 18th July 2019

    Google published what was initially a very minor algorithm update, with many ranking fluctuations reported across webmasters.

    The Rank Risk Index tracked high levels of fluctuations within the rankings, with it considered to be one of the largest ranking shake-ups in years

    Looking at the data and fluctuations, unlike previous updates, there was no specific niche targeted - we guess it was just a general update around how they judge content & site quality. There was a lot of recoveries from the previous June updates, where sites negatively hit in that update, suddenly saw a rise again with this update.

    However, as the week went on, it became more obvious it was part of a larger update - 3 fluctuations within a week.

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    Domain Restrictions in Search Results – 4th June 2019

    Google announced that they would be implementing a change to their algorithms, where the majority of searched queries will restrict how many times a search results listing domain would show.

    Essentially, Google are listening to user feedback and instead of searching for something and getting 9/10 results from the same site in the top results, this change will provide more diversity in the results shown.

    The key facts around this change include the fact that, in most cases, you won't see more than 2 results from the same site on a single search query in the top results, and the fact that subdomains will be treated as part of a root domain in most cases.

    Obviously, this change is in it's infancy, and isn't perfect, but they are working on refining it so you can expect to see changes on this going forward.

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    June 2019 Core Search Ranking Update – 3rd June 2019

    Google took the unusual step of announcing that there will be a core update being rolled out across their data centres on the following day - June 3rd 2019.

    The company later confirmed that this wasn't a big update, as it was just planned to be a regular core update, and the only reason they pre-announced it was to give all web owners a bit of a heads up, essentially

    A lot of the early chatter regarding this update was those who were affected by previous "Medic" updates over the last year - we believe that this is a further refinement to the Medic updates, so more of the same really.

    One well-known UK website, The Daily Mail, lost up to 50% of their daily traffic as a result of this update.

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    Google Indexing Issues – 22nd May 2019

    If you noticed that your site wasn't searchable on Google on the 22nd May 2019, then you weren't alone - many online sites were reporting that Google had stopped indexing their websites.

    This may have impacted on your site's traffic, conversion etc, and Google didn't confirm it had been fixed until 24 hours later.

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    Small Quality Update – 9th May 2019

    This was potentially a small quality update, where many sites online reporting a minor change. We believe this is further refinements around how Google ranks trustworthiness & quality in their rankings.
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    Algorithm Updates – 27th April 2019

    A number of changes in the algorithms affected many sites online from the 27th April, with many sites seeing signiicant changes in Google organic traffic - mainly hitting YMYL pages, so e-commerce sites, sites offering financial, medical & legal information were affected. Basically, sites that Google believe that, if they were of low quality, they could have a negative impact on the user.


    There are reports of sites who were negatively impacted back in the September updates, who have been working hard to try and recover their rankings, seeing a rise with this update.


    Some of the sites who saw a negative impact with this update, were sites which had previously been identified as being potentially not trusting enough for the services they were offering.


    The overall message that we were getting from this update is simply a general update regarding E-A-T, which has been the basis of the algorithm updates for the best part of a year now. However, the overall impact of this update is hard to gauge, due to the close proximity with the indexing bug previously, with many sites still suffering after-effects.

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    Major Indexing Issues – 5th April 2019

    On 5th April 2019, many SEO experts were starting to notice something occurring in Google rankings - many indexed pages were being removed from the search results. This was later confirmed by Google and lasted for numerous days - sites were having pages de-indexed, with many suffering an obvious negative impact, as many sites rely on users finding them in search engines.

    Sites could always find their way back into the indexes through the URL inspection tool, but some sites had hundreds of pages de-indexed - this was not a viable solution & Google were refusing to confirm anything more about the 'technical issue' (later confirmed to be because of internal management of the search index).

    Google eventually confirmed that many pages that were de-indexed were gong to be reprocessed, but this was confirmed to take a little while due to the sheer volume, and Google recommending submit their URLs via the search console for anything urgent.

    The saga was finally resolved on Tuesday April 9th - a full 4 days after the initial problems began. Although Google's systems were working as fast as they could with the sheer volume of pages to index, this could've proved to be very costly for many businesses who rely on Google to generate income & traffic from customers.

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    March 2019 Core Update – Further Waves – 27th March 2019

    We previously spoke about the March 2019 Core Update that Google themselves confirmed, meaning it's a pretty big update. So it was no surprise to learn that the effects & further changes kept on going for a number of weeks afterwards, and into the start of April

    Many online users reported that they dropped following a previous rise in the last update - this could be a number of things, but it's most likely because Google are refining their algorithm update based on real user data and what their users are actually searching for.

    A lot of users online reported that these fluctuations did help them to recover - with improved content, UX & technical SEO all contributing towards a greater ranking in Google. Sites in the health sector, who were significantly hit last August, saw the greatest gains.

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    March 2019 Core Update – 12th March 2019

    You know it's a relatively big update when Google themselves confirm the update - and that is exactly what happened in mid-March 2019.

    This is the biggest Google update since last August, and many in the SEO world believe that it is a reversal of some kind to the Medic update of last August - many sites that were hit back then, seem to have suddenly recovered. But, unlike the Medic update, this is a worldwide change not targeting specific niches, so everyone could potentially be in for a ranking change.

    Our advice is to simply keep working on your content - don't make huge changes to your site, and just keep plugging away at your quality, both in terms of content & technically. At the end of the day, Google is looking for quality, trustworthy websites, all that it's changing is how it identifies that.

    At the moment, it's still very early days to know exactly what this targeted (if, indeed, there was anything specific), but we are still reviewing everything as the fluctuations haven't yet completely died down.

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    Numerous small quality updates – 27th February 2019

    There was a small, but noticeable, Google update towards the end of February 2019, & continuing into March - potentially involving the further tweaking of how Google measures trust, and reputability of a website.

    If you've been reading these updates for a while, you'll know what you need to be doing to get in Google's good books.

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    Quality Update – 7th February 2019

    Our first update in a while, purely because this is the most significant update we've seen that's outside of the usual Google search algorithm changes. We believe this is a further tweak to the quality algorithms we've spoken about previously.

    It is shown that, although the gains were very small, sites that have worked hard on technical issues, user experience & content quality, once again, are the sites that have seen their gains occur. Sites that have been increasingly improving their site with each Google update seem to be the one's who are benefiting - so that is sites who are constantly investing in their site, and working hard to improve their standings within Google.

    As it's now 6 months or so since last summer's large Google Medic update, we believe that sites that haven't seen much of a recovery since then will require a massive change to the business - making it more trustworthy, for example, or trying to improve a poor reputation in the eyes of the customer. Those aren't quick fixes, and you can have an amazing, technically sound website, but if your seen to have a poor reputation, you'll not likely to rank well at all, and recovery for sites like that may well take longer than the sites that have seen further gains, recently.

    One of the bigger changes recently has been an refinement to the question - How does Google define trust? Sites that have been impersonating larger organisations, have now been penalised as Google doesn't see them as trustworthy enough. Simple answer to that - be yourself, and don't try and copy other organisations.

    Further updates & ranking changes continued to occur until around the 18th February, with many small changes & fluctuations occurring inbetween.

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    Small Tweaks & Updates – 9th January 2019

    Further small updates around the quality of a website were suspected around this date, as many sites noticed an increase in their Google rankings recently - particularly those have been investing in site improvements & quality updates.

2018 Google Algorithm Updates

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    Further Google Medic Update – 4th December 2018

    Further quality updates occured between the 4th & 6th December, in a smaller scale update of the Medic update from the start of August. The majority of sites saw just a slight adjustment in their rankings with this update.

    Again, the points we've been making since the original Medic update still stand here - make sure you're getting it right to be able to rank in Google. Content Quality, Technical, Trust are just some of the key things you need to be aiming for to be ranking well.

    Google just keeps refining how it ranks all these points, there are so many variables that can go into it, it just seems to be a case of trial and error on Google's part, until they get it right.

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    Keyword Search Ranking Algorithm Update – 30th November 2018

    There are strong signs that there was another minor ranking update on Friday 30th November - with some sites seeing an increase, whilst other sites were seeing a decrease. It is believed among many SEO experts that the algorithm is based around website keywords. Some sites were now ranking better for their keywords, but others either didn't see an increase in search position, but saw a decrease.
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    Update Reversal? – 20th November 2018

    Following the previous update we reported, it soon transpired that there was some reversals that occurred just 24 hours later to the update that happened. Many people had noticed that, after seeing some improvements in their rankings, they had gone back to how they were beforehand. Some users had even reported that they were going up and down the Google rankings every few hours or so. It is currently unsure as to why Google reversed the previous changes, but we can only recommend to keep working on your content, as we've mentioned in previous updates.
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    Quality Update – 16th November 2018

    We keep saying it, but with each update that Google releases, it is proven that websites who work hard on their content & quality of the website, will be rewarded in their rankings.


    Just keep looking at the following, but remember to be unique & stand out from the crowd, but leaning towards your target market.

    • Content - Is it unique? Is there enough of it? Is the content relevant?
    • Links - Does everything link correctly? Do you have quality links?
    • Trust - Do you have a good reputation? Do you have good reviews online?
    • Basic site information - Do you have a contact name, address etc on the site? Who is responsible for the site?
    • Adverts - Distracting adverts can push users away from your website
    • Expertise - Is your content written by people who know what they're talking about?
    • Legal Stuff - Do you have a terms & conditions? Do you have a privacy policy?
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    Minor Algorithm Tweak – 4th November 2018

    Further updates followed just a few days later, related to a number of the issues that first arose in August, and have continued updating in recent months. This particular update is belived to be more focused on trust, and how trustworthy your website is - tips on how you can improve this can be read in the previous few updates below.

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    Algorithm Updates – 31st October 2018

    Has your site previously been hit in the most recent August & September Google updates? Unfortunately, chances are high that those who were hit then, were hit again at the end of October 2018.


    This seems like a big update related to what we posted about in the previous update, dated 27th September, which you can read below.

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    Mid-September & October Quality Update – 27th September 2018

    On September 27th, Google confirmed that they were tweaking the algorithm slightly, following the previous larger August update (Google Medic) - confirming a small update had taken place via Twitter. Again, it was believed to have focused around site content & quality, as we've previously covered in this blogs. It appears to be Google further refining how it ranks quality in it's search engine.


    It is thought that affected sites that had again worked hard on their content, improved their thin content and unique content, and even improved technically, saw increases in ranking. As previously said, sites that work hard on their content get rewarded!


    Many sites that hadn't worked on their content, and had broken links on their site, are believed to have had a bit of a drop in rankings. As we've said before, Google rewards those sites who improve their content regularly, and attempt to make it stand out from their competitors. Make yourselves stand out with plenty of unique content that is right for your site and it's target audience. Make it relevant.


    Following the original update at the end of September, it became apparent that as time went on, it became clear that this update was going to be a lengthy update across a number of weeks heading into October. Further, smaller updates occurred on the 1st, 4th, 6th and 8th October with more sites seeing fluctuations in their rankings. Many in the SEO world believe that these updates relate to E-A-T. Does your site contain a High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness?


    From what we can tell, this Google update is affecting:

    • Content - Is it unique? Is there enough of it? Is the content relevant?
    • Links - Does everything link correctly? Do you have quality links?
    • Trust - Do you have a good reputation? Do you have good reviews online?
    • Basic site information - Do you have a contact name, address etc on the site? Who is responsible for the site?
    • Adverts - Distracting adverts can push users away from your website
    • Expertise - Is your content written by people who know what they're talking about?
    • Legal Stuff - Do you have a terms & conditions? Do you have a privacy policy?

    We realize that this is a lot to consider, and a lot of work and theory for something that Google might not even rank you for. But be mindful of the points above - our biggest recommendation is to ensure you have good, unique content across your site - focus on homepages, category pages and product pages. Ensure your content is correct, relevant & unique.


    The most recent fluctuations were reported around the 16th October, so hopefully updates around this will slow down.

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    Broad Core Algorithm Update (Google Medic) – 1st August 2018

    1st August 2018, the start of a brand new month and a potentially big Google update being released.


    Although it is currently early days, being just one day into August and the update not potentially finished yet, there is a lot of chatter on social media around the fluctuations in traffic on numerous websites. In fact, the social media buzz led Google to confirm the update, which is always the sign of a fairly significant change in Google.


    The following is the statement from Google:

    "Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year. As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded. There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages."


    Further to the statement, Google wouldn't confirm exactly what was needed to help websites who had suffered - simply referring back to what was said in a previous update on 9th March 2018. Danny Sullivan, a Google staff member on Twitter, was answering questions online, and believes that there is nothing specific to do, he just kept referring back to the great content line that Google keeps peddling out, before recommending that website owners and content writers read the Google Raters Guidelines.


    Again, the main outcome seems to be that websites that have worked hard on providing value to searchers, improving their content and aiming towards their searcher, are being rewarded by Google, as it improves what it thinks the searcher wants to see when they search.

      Further Update: We have a name! Google Medic. It is believed that the update has mainly affected specific niche sites - Money & Life sites have been greatly affected, as well as those in the diet, nutrition and medical areas. Many businesses with multiple locations appear to have dropped down the rankings, with locally based businesses being favored in the rankings. It's a very unusual occurrence for Google to affect such specific niches such as these. Analysts believe that a big part of the update is Google finding new ways to evaluate these sites in terms of safety and trust. The following points are thought to be valid to rank well in these sectors:  
    1. It should be obvious who is responsible for the information on the site. Users need to feel comfortable trusting the site, preferably written by professionals.
    2. The site needs to have a good, solid reputation. No reputation, or a negative reputation, can be a sign of low quality with potential health impact. Google will drop you for this.
    3. The site needs to advocate treatment that is the correct procedures. If a site offers a procedure that goes against professionals advice, Google will not rank that site highly.
      In short, if you are selling health related products, medicines etc that has negative or no reputation, with no scientific backing then you can't expect the Google algorithms to trust it.
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    Algorithm Update – 21st July 2018

    There was a lot of forum chatter of a possible Google search algorithm update in the early hours of Saturday 21st July 2018. As well as the increased forum chatter, the tracking tools also picked up on a potential update well - but it's very difficult to say what happened here.


    Some websites have reported that this could potentially be a mobile update, following on from the mobile speed update on the 9th July, as their sites were reported to have seen further improvements with this update. However, other sites also reported an increased in desktop and keyword rankings, but no improvements on mobile. It's possible that this update was mainly a mobile update, with minor other algorithm tweaks (a quality update, potentially), but nothing has been confirmed by Google.


    In other mobile news, it is reported that more sites have also been moved to mobile-first indexing around the time of this update.

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    Another Minor Quality Update? – 16th July 2018

    It was reported that a number of websites saw a sudden spike in Google organic traffic on this date. Whilst Google never officially confirmed this update, there is enough evidence to see that there was a minor change to the algorithms.


    Many of the sites that have been noted as being improved have known to be working on improving their website content (as per previous updates) - improving expertise and trust, trimming out thin content and improving issues on the website. Basically, a tweak based on what the previous updates have been about, rewarding those who are attempting to improve their rankings.

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    Mobile Speed Update Released – 9th July 2018

    Previously used extensively on desktop searches, the speed roll-out has now become a major ranking factor for mobile searches. Any page that is considered to be slow by the Google-bots, will be penalized in the search rankings. HOWEVER, if Google considers you to have strong & relevant content to the search on the page, you may still rank highly. It isn't a case of if it's slow, it's not great - if Google thinks your content is worth it, you shouldn't be hit too hard.

    If you are at all worried, or indeed have been penalized, audit your site using many of the speed and performance tools out there. If you see more traffic on your site, or a rise in rankings, then it is likely that some of your immediate competitors are incredibly slow - good news for you!

    The key things to know are this:
    • This will only affect the slowest performing mobile sites
    • Make some incremental improvements to your site - this can make big speed impacts
    • Already fast sites, that are made faster, are unlikely to see a ranking improvement
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    Broad Core Search Algorithm Update – 25th April 2018

    A routine update was rolled out in April 2018, and although Google confirmed that there wasn't much sites could do, they urged all sites to keep improving content, usability, speed etc and hopefully they will be rewarded within the next update. The aim appears to be to reward those websites which have previously been underrated - possibly this is as a result of the previous updates on March 9th and April 23rd in regards to site quality and relevance.

    Here is their statement in full:
    "Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year. As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded. There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well, other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages."
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    Further Algorithm Updates – 23rd April 2018

    A big update occurred on the 16th April 2018 (and again on the 23rd April 2018), in a further update to the previous content & quality update that occurred on the 9th March (see below). A number of sites that were affected previously were affected again - this time it is believed to be a change in how Google assess quality on a website - essentially a tweak to the previous update.

    As before, we recommend that you need to improve site quality (content, speed, navigation, aesthetics etc), compared to your competitors, to increase rankings in Google. Start with the basics! Try giving your site a through audit (for example, identify broken links & speed issues) that can cause quality to dip on a website. Alternatively, bring in an outsider to review your website compared to competitors, to look for improvements that you yourself might not be able to see. Or perhaps conduct some customer research - they are the ones using your website after all, their opinion will matter. You might be missing something a customer wants, and that they can get on another website. Improving site quality in the eyes of Google isn't a quick fix - it will take a lot of work from your business, but one that is hopefully worthwhile.

    Also, and this is key, relevance. In between the 9th March update and this change, it has been picked up that content needs to be relevant. Copied, or even too similar and reworded content, will be penalized. For example, 3 companies all with the same supplier, all with similar but reworded descriptions, will be penalized if their content is too similar. Try and be imaginative and different - browse your competitors and see what they haven't done, or what you could do differently to ensure your content stands out and isn't too similar. Try and follow these steps:

    • Add user generated content where possible - Google has confirmed that thriving comments section ARE a ranking factor.
    • Is the content you are about to publish necessary?
    • What can you do to make your content stand out and be different?
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    Mobile-First Indexing – 26th March 2018

    An officially announced update from Google occurred at the end of March 2018, in which they finally confirmed that, after 18 months of experimenting, they finally began to roll out mobile-first indexes on a gradual basis - showing preference to those sites who follow mobile best practices, with the aim of giving mobile users a better experience when searching.

    Because of the rise in mobile use in the modern age, it will help users to better find what they're looking for when searching via a mobile device. This should hopefully improve usability for those who browse via a mobile but may find themselves on a desktop site that isn't responsive, for example.

    However, contrary to some beliefs, the indexing remains singular - there isn't one mobile index for mobiles and a desktop index for desktop, just one singular Google index, and all site owners who use the Google Search Console will be informed when they have been moved onto the mobile-first index, but the process is expected to be gradual.

    Also, as part of the new update, ranking signals will come from your mobile site and not your desktop. Page Speed? H1s? Structured Data? Everything that Google looks at will be generated from your mobile site now as priority, as opposed to the desktop site. Google have done this because the trend is that mobile searches just keep growing and growing, and it is expected that more searchers will swap one day. If you go with a responsive theme, this shouldn't worry too much as everything will be the same on both desktop and mobile, it would just be responsive - the content and layout shrinks and rearranges dependent on the screen size.

    What should you expect as a business owner? You may notice two things in the Google Search Console as a result of this update - an increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot, as well as mobile pages appearing straight in the Google Search results and cached pages.

    What do Google class as mobile content?
    • Your mobile site should contain the same content as your desktop site. All content found on the desktop site should be accessible by a smaller device. A responsive approach to your website will help with this.
    • Areas of content that aren't weighted too much on a desktop (accordions etc) are given full weight when crawled by a Smartphone Googlebot as they usually aid user experience on a mobile
    • Structured data should be present on both versions of your site.
    • All content is readable on a smaller screen - there is nothing hidden off a screen.

    At BRAVE, we always ensure that our websites are both mobile and desktop friendly, using responsive based themes that enhances the user experience on all devices without impacting on usability or missing out on areas of the website. .
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    Unnamed Algorithm Update – 9th March 2018

    There was a bit of talk in late-February & early-March about another Google algorithm and ranking update - however, this update was not considered to be on the same scale as previous updates like Maccabee and was not confirmed by Google.

    UPDATE: Google confirmed that this algorithm update was a "broad core" update that would impact the appearance and rankings of websites. They further went on to state that this sort of thing happens several times a year, and there is nothing a site can do to repair the rankings fluctuations.

    It is believed that this update is related to quality on your website - it is thought that this was to benefit high-quality websites that were previously under ranked in Google.

    It is highly recommended that you need to improve site quality (content, speed, navigation, aesthetics etc), compared to your competitors, to increase rankings in Google. Start with the basics! Try giving your site a through audit (for example, identify broken links & speed issues) that can cause quality to dip on a website. Alternatively, bring in an outsider to review your website compared to competitors, to look for improvements that you yourself might not be able to see. Or perhaps conduct some customer research - they are the ones using your website after all, their opinion will matter. You might be missing something a customer wants, and that they can get on another website. Improving site quality in the eyes of Google isn't a quick fix - it will take a lot of work from your business, but one that is hopefully worthwhile.

    Here is Google's statement in full: "Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year. As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded. There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages."
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    Changes to Google Images – 15th February 2018

    On 15th February 2018, Google made changes so that users can no longer view a singular image from their search results. Previously, users searching for an image could click "View Image" and view the image on it's own in a separate tab. Whilst this is incredibly frustrating for users who are searching, for image and business owners, it can be a god-send. This can potentially lead to more traffic on your website - which can only be good for your business. So make sure that your site is fully optimized - it needs to function well, it needs to be quick, and it needs to be visually appealing for users to increase conversion. It also needs to be relevant to what the user needs it for - try not to have images that don't relate to your website on your site, especially in light of these algorithm changes.
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    Possible Algorithm Update – 29th January 2018

    There was a lot of chatter late-January regarding the organic search changes and ranking in the Google listings. Whilst nothing was confirmed by Google, many webmasters saw fluctuations in their rankings. It wasn't considered to be a major algorithm update however, as it is considered that multiple updates happen daily anyway.
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    Page Speed Now a Mobile Ranking Factor – 18th January 2018

    It should be made clear that page speed has been a factor for years now, but it primarily focused on desktop page load rather than mobile. You can use Googles on page speed to diagnose the issues with you current site, if you have experienced drops try reviewing your organic landing visits in analytics and segment against Mobile / Tablet / Desktop for drops.In our experience, using a bulk image resizing and compression tool, CDN, caching and merging / minifying the scripts on your site will provide a good improvement. CMS packages can be more complex, contact us for further information.
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    Extended Update (Possibly Maccabee) – 14th January 2018

    Google released another update whereby the SERP tracking tools saw a sizable amount of activity; however no official update was confirmed. Google released a statement that "We released several minor improvements during this timeframe, part of our regular and routine efforts to improve relevancy." Further information is seen below in the 20Th December 2017 update.

2017 Google Algorithm Updates

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    PBN & Scholarship Links – 25th December 2017

    Google started dishing out mass manual action penalties as they took on website owners who had purchased or build links via Private Blog Networks (PBN’s) or Scholarship links. These links have been widely known to be against Googles search quality guidelines, but also very effective. Updates link this are a statement to ward off people from using these types of links – if you do not build your own links in house and use an agency, you need to ask if they use them now or anytime and be prepared to use the disavow tool on the domains in question.
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    Maccabee Update – 20th December 2017

    Significant ranking fluctuations are seen on desktop and mobile devices over the space of a few days. The murmurs of the update were spotted by Barry Schwartz a few days before where he labelled the update ‘Maccabees’, Google did confirm the update with their normal vague ‘minor improvements’ comment. Barry Schwartz suggested that the following issues were flagged in the small sample size he reviewed:
    • Doorway page like sites targeting many keyword permutations
    • Low quality content with lots of ads or affiliate links, like Fred patterns
    • A lot of e-commerce sites for some reason, maybe Phantom related issues
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    Celebrity Update – 15th December 2017

    Celebrity websites rank really well for their own domain names e.g. will rank for the term ‘Katy Perry’. However, if the website is low quality and doesn’t deserve to rank better than the other domains in the top 10, then they were hit. Statistics they may look into are things like time on site/dwell time, if users visit and leave straight away and click on other results and other content based stats. This is a tweak similar to the exact match domains update.
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    Snippet Length Increase – 30th November 2017

    Google Meta Description limits are now at 300 characters, almost double the previous limit. This should be taken advantage of, as Google search works more favourably towards click through rates in its ranking, your meat details should be treated like ads. Having more space makes yours larger and you can pack more USP messaging in there to encourage that click.
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    Possible Quality Update – 15th November 2017

    There has been no confirmation of what was included in this update, just a lot of speculation that it wasn’t focused on Panda or Penguin algorithm updates, rather just general quality undisclosed improvements.
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    Google Mobile First – 18th October 2017

    Google began rolling out their mobile first index initiative. Essentially, more users are browsing on mobile devices so they will now crawl and render the mobile version of your website first. You should test your site on popular mobile devices (we use Browser Stack) to see if it renders well and use Googles page speed tester to check it can perform well on low internet connections.
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    Chrome HTTPS Warnings – 17th October 2017

    With the release of Chrome 62, the browser began warning visitors about unsecure websites, mainly being sites that had forms that are not on HTTPS (sites without SSL certificates).
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    Unnamed Update – 27th September 2017

    A series of unnamed updates were rolled out that impacted the SERP results according to rank tracking tools that measure Google update volatility in the wild.
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    Google AMP Update – 1st September 2017

    If you got lots of traffic from mobile searches with Google snippets, this may have impacted you. Google started preferring to deliver AMP pages in the snippets on mobile devices.
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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.

Google Algorithm Updates

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    Google ccTLDs Will No Longer Show International Search Results – 1st January 1970

    Utilising a Google country code top-level domain will no longer give you access to the ranking results of that country. E.g., This is an effort to localise results in more depth and had a large impact on the Google SERPs. So if you go into and search for ‘Pizza’ you will not see pizza places listed in Paris – they know where you are.

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 – 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.
  • icon – 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.
  • icon Penalty – 1st January 2011 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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