View the history of Google's search result algorithm that is constantly evolving. The algorithm is refreshed regularly and patterns by topic are often referred to by animal references such as Penguin and Panda.
Keep up to date with what's really going on with Google's algorithm and how it may affect your website.
On July 17, 2015 Google unveiled that they are rolling out Panda version 4.2. Google also mentioned that it will be rolling out this update slowly over the next month. 2-3% of all search queries will be affected, which is much lower than its previous updates. The update impacts low quality content sites in attempt to improve search results.
On June 16, 2015 Google rankings fluctuated drastically. There has not been word on an exact algorithm change that caused this, but the industry as a whole has noticed a huge fluctuation in rankings for most websites.
On May 3, 2015 Google made a sneaky change to their algorithm without really saying much. Google is claiming that it was not an iteration to their Panda updates, but an update called "Quality". This focuses on exactly that, quality. Google stated that they changed how they assess the quality of a web page.
On April 21, 2015 Google's Mobile Friendly algorithm update was implemented. This update was discussed for quite some time and one of the first times Google has come out prior to an update informing webmasters what the change is going to do. Google is promoting websites that they consider "Mobile Friendly". This means that if your site is responsive, it has the ability to rank higher than its non-responsive competitor. Google is emphasizing mobile search more since the search volume continues to increase on mobile devices.
On July 24, 2014 Google made a change on how they present local search results. Google has stated that they are now displaying local results on a more similar structure to their major search algorithm. This change also improves the results based on your physical location, improving location from the user to local businesses based on the query.
On June 12, 2014 Google released a new version of Payday Loans. Back in May Google released Payday Loans 2.0, which we now know focused on specific spammy sites. Payday Loans 3.0 now focuses on spammy queries.
On May 20, 2014 Google rolled out Panda 4.0. This algorithm change was implemented to devalue sites that contained poor content. This has been an ongoing battle that Google has been chipping away at for years now. Google has claimed that the algorithm change has impacted roughly 7.5% of all search queries. Coincidently, Ebay and other large websites have seen a tremendous drop in organic ranking around this time.
On May 16, 2014 Google rolled out Payday Loans 2.0. This algorithm change is purely inbound link related and over-optimzation. This specifically goes after high search, spammy queries such as “Payday Loans”. Google is trying to devalue sites that perform in link buying and other black hat methods.
Google made a slight algorithm change related to content “above-the-fold”. Google is de-valuing sites that contain a large percentage of their upper third with advertising space. This doesn’t mean they are going after news sites, but sites with ads that are too distracting for users to navigate the site.
Google released Penguin 2.1 the first weekend in October 2013. Matt Cuts has been on his mission to eradicate link farms, link schemes, blog schemes and many other unnatural links that many SEOs use to unnaturally boost their client's websites. Overall, this change is positive, because it is another hit to poor SEOs and is another leaf in Google's cap to improve the quality of search results.
Google refers to the update as hummingbird to emphasize being precise and fast. We also learned from this update, that the metric PageRank is dead. This change is focused on the future of search and more conversational results. We believe that this is a small step to the future of search. Think Siri and Google Voice Search, directly talking to artificial intelligence to get a result instead of raw keyword phrases you type on a keyboard.
Google has released a new update to its algorithm that caters to more blog and informative articles. When searching for resources, Google realized the value that some companies have on their blogs and providing real, beneficial information to long tail searches. The goal of this change was to allow this type of content to rank better based on quality and more detailed search requests.
Google has been fighting poor content for quite some time. Many SEOs have been spinning content, writing poor quality blogs and other spammy content methods to increase rankings and have a much wider funnel to drive traffic. This became a huge problem because the content was not useful, not beneficial to its users. Google has hit sites hard due to poor content, however in July 2013 Google revised its Panda update and pulled back.
Google refined its update to Penguin in May 2013 to combat poor SEOs and companies performing SEO outside of Google's guidelines. The main areas of this algorithm update were link schemes, heavy anchor text links, poor quality site links, poor content surrounding links, and more. Google has taken another step to erradicate link farms and link schemes and put bad SEO companies out of business.
Google re-defined the SEO industry in April 2012. Google released a drastic change to the algorithm that affects your site rankings and how they evaluate the largest aspect of the algorithm… links. Your link profile evaluation has drastically changed because of link farms and other low quality link sites. Google punished many sites on this day and sent many manual penalties to webmasters that were participating in such link farms. If your site rankings went down in April 2012, this was because you had paid links, heavy keyword dense anchor text in your link profile and were participating in link schemes. As result of this, many bad SEOs will go out of business and the SEO industry will eventually praise Google for this change.
Google has made many Panda updates throughout 2012, focusing on quality content. The updates are still focused on eradicating poor content and content spinning. Google realized that users were sick of bad content and were not happy with many results, so they continue to refine this section of the algorithm.
In February 2012, Google focused on local search results. This often gets overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Considering that 60% of all searches are location based, this was a big deal. Google realized that the best reference for local businesses are from the location of that business. Google now values local citations much more. When searching from a location, Google will better display more local results. For example if I am looking for a "Mexican restaurant" and I am located in Scottsdale, it will provide better Scottsdale mexican restaurant results, making the search engine smarter based on your location.
Google released Top Heavy for several different reasons, all very good and to benefit the end user. Many SEOs stuff pages with much keyword dense content towards the bottom of the page in hopes that Google will find their page relevant. This is not a good tactic, and Google sniffed it out real quick. The content that is on the upper most region of your page is the most valuable to the user and your highest priority, so they decided to value it more than what is below on the document. Overall, this was a great change and really focused on the user experience.
Search + Your World is a step to incorporate social signals into your personal search results. Google has mentioned over the last several years that they want to incorporate more personal results based on your behavior and social behavior. They incorporated Search + Your World incorporates your behaviors and hints of social activity to better display results that are more personal to you. We see that this is a step towards the future of search and better, more focused results.
Google realizes that users like fresh, up-to-date content. They focused this change on getting better results, faster. This also helps companies who blog and provide great content on a regular basis.
Google made an interesting change in September 2011, more focused on news and content providers. Many content providers paginate their material, creating 10 pages related to one article instead of 1. Google saw this issue and created tags like rel="next" rel="prev" to indicate to Google that the pages are a continuation, not new pages with different content.
Google focused on brand related searches to provide the most focused results for its users. This change allows your site, when brand related searches occur, to provide top content on your website below the result. This gives the user several entry points to content that they might see more valuable than going to the home page.
Google announced and realized Google +, their new social network. This didn't affect the algorithm, but may be how Google will decide to incorporate social signals.Many in the industry have predicted this day and now are going the "Told you so" way, but no one knows how Google will use this in the future to affect search results.
Google has made changes to Panda and continues to fight low quality content from ranking well and irritating its users. Google has had time to see how sites have settled and revise their change due to results.
Google announced a +1 button for the web. This is another step for Google to incorporate more personalized search. We believe that they will use this as a voting system, similar to "Like" with Facebook. That being said, we believe that it is a test to see how people respond to it, incorporate into their site and see value. Every once in a while, Google will use the public as their beta test and this is definately that.
Google has announced that social signals will be a part of the algorithm. They believe that your friends and colleagues give you references and share similar interests, so search results would be better if it is more personalized. It will be interesting to see how this evolves as social's impact grows.
Google has made a significant change in how users search by introducing Google Instant. This changes how Google predicts your search and provides results instantly and even before you finish your query. This shows how advanced the algorithm has become and how the future of search will behave.
Google now displays 1 true result for brand related phrases with supporting pages below. Google has tried to clean up the brand results so that the brand doesn't just display results and results of the same site, instead one major result with supporting items.
Caffeiene was not an algorithm change, moreover a change in frequency of indexing. Google has claimed that indexing of websites will occur 50% faster than before. This is great news for SEOs because content will be indexed more frequently and shows that they are dedicated to providing fresher, more relevant content.
Matt Cutts and his quest for quality results has now hit sites hard that have thin and low quality content. This change was a huge hit for bad SEO practitioners. We believe that this is a sign of what is to come. The SEO industry has been plagued by outsourcing companies that spin content, build fake websites that link to one another and have provided low quality content across the web. Google has seen this evolve and is attempting to put a stop to it.
Google introduced Google Places. This was a part of Google Maps, but they have enhanced this initiative in order to provide better local results. Businesses can now created places listings and present themselves more accurately for local search.