The Essential Google Algorithm Update History from 2000-Present

2021 Updates

July 2021 Core Update — July 1, 2021

The last announcement of Google rolling out another core update to the algorithm was a bit of surprise as they were releasing the updates in two parts. In June, Google announced they were ready to move forward with the parts that were ready and release the rest of the improvements when they will be ready in the upcoming days. The July 1 update comprises Core Web Vitals that affected both news results and organic results.

Spam Updates — June 23, 2021

On June 23rd and June 28th, Google released two spam updates, yet there was no clarification on how the two updates were connected to each other or the things it was affecting. Although particular sites were impacted, there was no visible effect on comprehensive ranking volatility.

June 2021 Core Update — June 2, 2021

Google in an unusual move announced the June and July 2021 core updates which apparently seemed to be linked. The core update of June rolled out from June 2-12 that had a major impact in the form of rank fluctuation in forums and thin-content websites. Moreover, larger enterprises with relevant companies were also affected to a great extent.

Product Reviews Update — April 8, 2021

The intent of the update was to reward in-depth reviews compared to thinner review content. Many analysts have found that this update has affected various niche categories comprising site-level funding, user experience, and others. It is also considered that this update was like a core update for some sites that have been experiencing surges or heavy drops based on their reviews.

Passage Indexing (US/English) — February 10, 2021

In October 2020, Google announced a passage indexing update which went live on February 10, 2021. It is a new type of Google raking particular passages from a web search. This update is a 'breakthrough' according to Google, claiming that it better understands the relevancy of particular passages instead of the complete webpage which helps in meeting specific searches whose answers are buried deep inside a web page.

2020 Updates

December 2020 Core Update — December 3, 2020

It seemed nothing less than a Christmas present when Google announced a new core algorithm update that officially started rolling from December 3, 2020. As a result of this update, several sectors were impacted where SERPs of many sites reached a 9.4 volatility mark. However, a sudden surge in the shopping results was observed, yet it went back to pre-update levels quickly. The most affected industries were Real Estate, health, and Law & Government.

Indexing Bug, Pt. 2 — October 12, 2020

The Google search results were very unstable that left people confused whether it is a ranking update or an indexing update. Many witnessed indexing issues, but Google stated that 99% of the issues have been resolved by the 14th of October, 2020. However, the left edge cases would get resolved in the following weeks.

Indexing Bug, Pt. 1 — September 29, 2020

Google faced an indexing issue with news content. However, the engineers assured that it will be resolved soon. Many found indexing issues with news content as well as some non-news content also saw decline or indexing problem with mobile pages AMP pages simultaneously. Nonetheless, a few hours later the issues were resolved and confirmed by Google on Twitter.

Google Glitch — August 10, 2020

Google confirmed that they detected a problem with their indexing systems that impacted the search results. After the issue was identified, it was soon fixed by the Site Reliability Engineers. The algorithm suffered a substantial glitch that led to a major fluctuation in the search engine results.

May 2020 Core Update — May 4, 2020

Another core update announced by Google led to heavy ranking flux between May 4 and 6 as it took two weeks to completely roll out. It was a big update after the August 2018 Medic update.

Featured Snippet De-duping — January 22, 2020

Google announced a change in policy about Featured Snippets that only one page of one website will be shown in the SERPs to de-duplicate the search result pages. Previously, a website had the chance to get featured twice on the SERPs.

January 2020 Core Update — January 13, 2020

Google announced the January Core Update that affected search results across the world. This core update didn't target any particular site or page, yet highlighted that the changes are subject to improve their overall systems assessment content. Google also stated that these changes may help some unrewarded pages to do better.

2019 Updates

International BERT Roll-out — December 9, 2019

Google's aim behind the BERT update was to understand search queries in a better way. The update rolled out in 72 languages which the BERT affected. Also, the BERT affected 10% of the search queries for the English language in the United States.

BERT Update — October 22, 2019

Google updated its algorithm and relevant hardware to increase support for the BERT natural language processing (NLP). Google also confirmed that it will impact 10% of the search queries. Hence, it can be said that this is one of the largest of all Google updates in the past 5 years.

September 2019 Core Update — September 24, 2019

Google pushed a broad core update yet another time on 24th September. This rollout saw many sites dropping and surging across many countries. The sectors that were most affected by the update are Food, Drink, Computers & Electronics, and Finance among the worst impacted categories.

Site Diversity Update — June 6, 2019

This update by Google provided a particular scope because Site Diversity allowed people to directly measure. Some news sites took a big hit from this update. At the same time, it impacted SERPs layout where more video carousels were seen appearing on desktop searches.

June 2019 Core Update — June 3, 2019

A pre-announcement was made by Google regarding a 'core' update with limited information on June 3rd, 2019. The websites that were affected by earlier core updates appeared to have been impacted. It was observed that the volume of impact was lesser than the August Medic update as stated by MozCast.

Indexing Bugs — May 23, 2019

Google tweeted about experiencing a new indexing issue that was entirely different from the indexing use they faced yesterday. There were no details provided, however, there was mixed response regarding how the bug affected the websites. The SEO community said that there were spikes in traffic and a few problems witnessed by most sectors.

Deindexing Bug — April 5, 2019

Google accepted that due to the internal management of the Search Index, a few pages of websites may have dropped from the index for some days. Google also stated that it was their fault and no action is needed from the user's side because the matter will get resolved soon.

March 2019 Core Update — March 12, 2019

This was the first update from Google that caused major volatility in search results across the world. Several websites in the health sector got impacted due to this update. Google intends to fine-tune search results of sensitive subjects, especially those which are relevant to health queries.

2018 Updates

"Medic" Core Update — August 1, 2018

Google Medic update is meant to enhance the identification of authority and expertise in the online world. The update aims to achieve this through the fundamental ranking factors that guarantee authoritative, quality and expert content is getting ranked in SERPs. This update took the complete week to roll out and peaked on August 1 and 2.

Chrome Security Warnings (Full Site) — July 24, 2018

Google's Chrome Browser started alerting users about HTTPS websites that are not secure from July 24, 2018. Plenty of notices were sent to the site owners from February 2018. This update will not prevent users from entering the site but will make them think twice before taking any decision.

Mobile Speed Update — July 9, 2018

This update rolled out after six months when Google announced the mobile speed update that is meant to make page speed a ranking factor for mobile results. According to Google, it only impacted the slowest mobile websites as well as there was no proof of major shifts in mobile rankings.

Video Carousels — June 14, 2018

This Google update moved videos from organic–like results with thumbnails into a devoted video carousel which led to a shake-up in results that were earlier tracked as organic. Simultaneously, the number of search results pages with videos increased to a great extent. Google replaced a substantial amount of video thumbnails with video carousels from June 14th.

Snippet Length Drop — May 13, 2018

Five months later after increasing search results snippets, Google announced that it has reduced the length of these snippets. According to their explanations in earlier publications, the snippets are “truncated as needed, typically to fit the device width.” In other words, it can be concluded that this update is the result of smartphone saturation. It is just that shorter snippets fit better on bole devices.

Unnamed Core Update — April 17, 2018

Similar to several updates in the past few years, this update continues to add mystery to the SEO community. Google did not name this update, but the search engine ranking of several sites was impacted after the roll-out of this update. Even the SEO tech specialist was not sure about this algorithm shift. Hence, they also couldn't name the update as they were not aware of its guidelines.

Mobile-First Index Roll-out — March 26, 2018

Google stated that mobile-first indexing means they constantly use the mobile version of the content as a ranking and indexing factor. Previously, the index mainly utilised the desktop version of the webpage's content when assessing the relevance of the content to the user's query. However, after this update, Google will consider indexing mobile-first which will be considered as an effective ranking factor as they want to ensure users find the right content when they are looking from their smartphones.

Zero-result SERP Test — March 14, 2018

Gogol's search result experiment removed organic results from a few categories of searches for queries like "What time is it in Chicago?" The results displayed on SERPs will be a Knowledge Card that has a "Show all results" button that is meant to show no extra organic results or SERP features. The result of such particular queries will be a short set of answers that is composed of unit conversions, calculators, and some time/ date enquiries.

"Brackets" Core Update — March 8, 2018

This is a big core algorithm update that caused a lot of movement where sites were either losing or gaining rich snippets. The primary intention of the update was to improve search results focussing on the long-term scenario. Also, websites that lost rich snippets were known to gain them back in a short time.

2017 Updates

Snippet Length Increase — November 30, 2017

Google announced that the Snippet Length Increase update is intended to offer more descriptive snippets in search results. The primary reason is to help users get a better understanding of pages to understand their relevance to search results. Even before five days, many found that the sites with longer snippets were typically shown first than others with short snippets.

Chrome Security Warnings (Forms) — October 17, 2017

To ensure safe browsing, Google's Chrome will show security warnings on HTTPS websites from October 17, 2017. The tech giant was planning to label HTTPS sites non-secure from January of 2017, but finally rolled out the update with Chrome version 62 in October. The main intent is to force websites to make sure of safe browsing for the users.

Google Jobs — June 20, 2017

With this update, Google allowed users to connect with job seekers via Google search. From June 20, 2017, users can find click stats and impressions for job listings on job details and job listing pages in the Search Analytics report on the Search Engine Console. The initiative is aimed at helping employers and job seekers connect easily.

Unnamed Update — February 6, 2017

This unnamed update of the core Google algorithm led to a huge impact on site rankings. It was found that the algorithm was most volatile 5 days before the update rolled out. According to the SEO community, Google updated its core algorithm both on February 1 and 7. Many sites with poor mobile UX problems witnessed a drop in these volatile situations.

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty — January 10, 2017

This update was rolled out by Google to punish those aggressive interstitials and pop-ups that may harm the mobile user experience. The release of this update was announced five months in advance. Many sites experienced drops and other surges after the release of this update.

2016 Updates

Penguin 4.0, Phase 1 — September 27, 2016

The first part of Penguin 4.0 that actually launched amid September 22-23, was a roll-out of the milder penguin algorithm that devalues low-quality links rather than penalizing them. There is no exact report but it took a few days for the update to roll out completely.

Penguin 4.0 Announcement — September 23, 2016

After 2 long years, Google finally released the much-awaited Penguin 4.0 update that will be a part of their core algorithm. Those sites that got penalized by Google 2 years ago will be able to recover now only if their unnatural links have been cleared. According to the tech giant, the update has been rolled out in all languages and will be operating in real-time in a few days.

Mobile-friendly 2 — May 12, 2016

On May 12th, Google confirmed that they have finally rolled out the update of their mobile-friendly algorithm that is live on mobile Google search results. This app only impacted the mobile results as well as it is intended to increase the rank of mobile-friendly pages. This is better than the earlier mobile-friendly algorithm as it is considered to be a boost to mobile-friendly pages.

AdWords Shake-up — February 23, 2016

This time the tech giant made major changes to AdWords by eliminating the right column ads completely. On the other hand, it rolled out 4-ad top blocks on several commercial searches Even though it was a paid search update, it had significant impacts on CTR in both organic and paid results.

2015 Updates

RankBrain* — October 26, 2015

One of the most important factors that set apart RankBrain from other updates is machine learning. With Google’s confirmation regarding the existence of RankBrain, it is now proven that the algorithm utilises machine learning to identify the most relevant results to search queries. Machine learning learns over time how humans express themselves and then utilise the data to help search engines display results in search queries.

Panda 4.2 (#28) — July 17, 2015

Even though Google announced that panda is more or less a data refresh and stated that it could take months to completely roll out. However, there were no immediate impacts felt and there were no signs of any major algorithm update.