14 Most Important Google Algorithm Update Since 2003. If you are into SEO, then you might know the importance of Google’s algorithms. Google has developed certain algorithms in order to determine which is the best web page suitable for getting better rankings on SERP.
In most cases, it is next to impossible to identify which algorithm Google has updated or rolled out.
But some updates are part of Google’s core algorithm which hardly changes or gets updated.
So, in this blog post, we will walk you through the 14 most important Google algorithm updates since 2003.
Why is it important to know about Google’s algorithm?
The answer to this question is simple: if you want to rank well on top of Google, then you need to know the details of Google’s algorithm.
Having knowledge of all the updates will help you create the best SEO-optimized website.
It will also help you deal with negative SEO practices.
Major Google algorithm updates since 2003:
1. Google Intrusive Interstitial Penalty
This was the update that Google brought in 2017. It impacted the mobile search results on Google.
According to this algorithm, the web pages which aren’t easily accessible on mobile phones may not rank high on Google mobile search results. However, it had a minor impact on search results.
Google also stated that web pages may also rank if they are highly relevant to the search query and have high-quality content.
Furthermore, Google has also given cases where web pages may not rank higher on a mobile search result if:
- Your website has too many pop-ups and covers the main content, which negatively affects the user experiences.
- Displaying too many interstitial ads on your site that cover the main content of your site or distracts the users.
How to deal with this update: Focus on website designing, UX, and UI.
2. Google Fred
The next in this list of all the important Google algorithm updates is Fred.
In the year 2017, there were a series of mysterious updates from Google. And Gary Illyes jokingly gave a name to these algorithm updates as Fred. Since then, many SEO experts have their opinion regarding Fred.
Google Fred had a major impact on the search engine rankings of a website. In 2017, many SEO news websites reported this update focused more on looking at the quality of content.
While some web-masters stated this update was penalizing websites that adopted black hat SEO techniques. This includes a website with tons of ads, low-quality content, and creating click-bait titles.
How to deal with this update: Create high-quality content and don’t opt for black hat SEO techniques.
3. Google Penguin
Penguin was the update that Google first announced in April 2012. The aim of this algorithm was to de-rank all those websites from the search engine result page that violated Google’s ranking guidelines by using grey hat SEO techniques.
A grey hat SEO technique is a mixture of white hat and black SEO techniques that webmasters adopt to manipulate the search engine so that their site gets a better ranking on Google.
The grey hat SEO technique includes creating spammy links, building backlinks by using automation tools, and creating over-optimized keyword-rich links.
Google claimed this update affected 3.1% of websites that are in English.
How to deal with this algorithm update: Don’t create spammy links. Focus on building high-quality content that brings links naturally.
4. Google possum
The next important update that Google rolled out was in 2016.
Officially, Google did not confirm any update regarding this algorithm. This algorithm got its name from the impact it created on local business websites and businesses listed on Google My Business.
Google’s new and updated location filters weed out certain local listings based on some ranking factors. Thus, the local listings themself play possum.
Following are the ways by which Possum impacts local search rankings:
- Businesses located outside of the city may also get a higher ranking for local search queries.
- The physical location of the user plays an important role in determining which result to display on the Google My Business page.
Rankbrain was one of the most important algorithms by Google that it confirmed in 2015. This algorithm is the third most important ranking factor along with high-quality backlinks and website content.
This algorithm leverages the power of machine-learning technologies to process search queries and give more relevant results to the users. It also understands the searchers’ intent and gives them various kinds of results that stratify their queries.
Google also made it clear that it uses a tensor processing unit to process the Rankbrain algorithm.
How to deal with Rankbrain Algorithm: Use LSI keywords in your SEO.
Google has officially stated that the mobile responsiveness of a website is a ranking factor. If your site is not easily accessible to users through cell phones or other smart devices, then Google will place a small penalty on your site.
In short, it won’t rank your site on top of SERP.
This update rolled out in 2015 and several web-masters and web-developers started calling this update Mobilegeddon. However, Google has not officially confirmed its name.
The main aim of this update was to give preference in rankings to those websites that are responsive on all the devices including desktop, mobile, smartphones, and tablets.
How to deal with this algorithm: Create a responsive and mobile-friendly website.
The next in this list of important Google algorithm updates is Pigeon. This algorithm was aimed at increasing the rankings of local business websites and sites targeting more localized keywords.
After this update, major changes were seen in Google Maps and Google search engine result page.
Following are the factors that Google Pigeon takes into consideration:
- Location of users: For example, if you are living in Bangalore and you look for the best software companies near me, Google will show you the list of top technology companies in Bangalore.
- It also takes the local listings in the directory into consideration for ranking results on Google maps.
How to deal with Google Pigeon: Start targeting more local keywords in your content.
Hummingbird was named by several webmasters and SEO experts to the Google algorithm update in 2013. This algorithm focused more on understanding the searchers’ intent, the context of the content, and keywords by using natural language processing technology.
After this algorithm update, searchers started getting better search results for their queries.
The idea behind this update was to give users better search results, even for short-tail keywords.
How to deal with this algorithm: Don’t create content for search engines. Write for the users and keep your content natural. Don’t over-optimize by stuffing keywords.
9. Knowledge graph
This update entirely changed the look and feel of results on the search engine results page. This algorithm launched in 2012 to help users in discovering more information for their search query quickly and easily.
When you type “Barack Obama” on Google, you’ll see a small summary kind of result on the right side.
That’s called the Google knowledge graph, and it shows crucial information related to the search query. In this case, it shows the name, DOB, age, party, and education qualification of Barack Obama.
10. Penguin 2016 update
In 2016, Google again rolled out a Penguin update and made it part of Google’s core algorithm. This means it will update in real-time and there will be no official announcer meant by Google for this Penguin update in the future.
This update also made it clear that Google won’t demote a website if it has tons of bad links. Instead, it would ignore those links and won’t consider them for website ranking.
How to deal with this algorithm: Focus on building high-quality backlinks.
The next major Google algorithm is Panda.
Panda launched in the year 2011 to de-rank the websites with low-quality content, content farms, and sites with duplicate content. The update also helped websites with high-quality content to rank well.
Apart from this, news websites and social bookmarking sites with tons of advertisements also saw a drop in rankings and traffic.
Overall, this update changed 12% of the total search results.
Since 2011, Google Panda has been updated in 2013 as well as in 2015.
How to deal with Panda: Avoid duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and content farms.
Google Caffeine was announced in 2009 and officially launched in 2010. This update affected almost 50% of the web search engines and also the largest collection of website content Google has ever offered.
Caffeine is not actually an algorithm but a new system on how Google indexing and crawling works.
This update aimed to improve the indexing process of Google better so that it crawled and indexed information at a much faster rate. This will ultimately give a good search experience to the users.
13. Google suggest
After 4 years of extensive testing and research, Google autosuggest finally launched in 2008. The aim was to create a drop-down box that contained a list of popular and related queries to the main keyword.
The idea behind this update was to create a better user experience on the search engine result page.
This update has also helped many bloggers, webmasters, and SEO experts in performing keyword research strategies for SEO.
How to deal with this update: You can use this Google auto-suggest feature to find long-tail keywords.
14. Google BERT
When people go to Google to search for something, they are not always sure on how to formulate or process their query. They might not be aware of the right words to type or, in a few cases, people might misspell search queries.
This is where Google BERT or so-called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, comes into play.
This update aims to understand the user’s search query, interpret text, and auto-correct the misspelled words to provide a better search experience to the users.
How to deal with this algorithm: Use a combination of primary and secondary keywords in your content. Also, add a bunch of LSI keywords.