Google Algorithm History: A Look Back at Updates Over the Years
Understanding Google Algorithms: What They Are and How They Work
Google algorithms are a set of complex rules that help the search engine retrieve information from its index and provide users with the most relevant results for their queries. These algorithms are regularly updated and tweaked by Google to ensure that the search engine delivers the best possible results.
In the early days, Google didn’t make many updates to its algorithms. But now, the company makes thousands of changes every year. While most of these updates are minor and go unnoticed, some major updates have had a significant impact on search engine results pages (SERPs).
These major updates, including Florida, Big Daddy, Jagger, Vince, Caffeine, Panda, Freshness Algorithm, Page Layout Algorithm, Venice Update, Penguin, EMD (Exact Match Domain), Payday, Hummingbird, Pigeon, Mobilegeddon, Quality Updates, RankBrain, and Fred, have all played a crucial role in shaping the current state of search engine optimization (SEO).
Besides understanding off-page SEO, SEO professionals need to keep up with these algorithm updates and understand their implications to ensure that their websites continue to rank well on SERPs. To help with this, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of Google algorithm launches, updates, and refreshes that have taken place over the years, along with useful resources for SEO professionals.
Check updates on the Google Algorithm History!
September 20, 2022 – Product Review Algorithm Update
Last September 20, 2022, Google released a new product review algorithm update that lasted until September 26. Although Google didn’t give any specific tips for site owners, they shared a post about product review updates in 2021 to provide more information.
September 12, 2022 – Core Algorithm Update
Another update happened on September 12, 2022. Google announced the rollout of a core algorithm update, which completed on September 26. Site owners who are curious about core updates can check out the Google Search Central Blog for more details.
August 25, 2022 – Helpful Content Update
Last August 25, 2022, Google launched the Helpful Content Update, which is aimed at helping content creators produce content that caters to people’s needs first. Content creators can learn more about it on the Search Central blog.
July 27, 2022 – July 2022 Product Reviews Update
On July 27th, 2022, Google released an update called the “July 2022 Product Reviews Update,” which was completed on August 2nd. The update affects product reviews, and e-commerce marketers can find more information on how to write high-quality reviews on Google Search Central’s documentation.
May 22, 2022 – Core Update
Did you hear about the May 2022 Core Update from Google? It’s a major update that affects how websites are ranked in search results. This update was released on May 22, 2022, and finished on June 9, 2022. Google rolls out these types of updates throughout the year to improve its ranking process. They announced the release of the May 2022 Core Update via Twitter. If you’re a website owner or marketer, pay attention to this update and make any necessary changes to your website to maintain or improve your search rankings.
March 23, 2022 – March 2022 Product Algorithm Update
On March 23, 2022, Google made an announcement through its Search Central Blog regarding an upcoming update to its product review rankings algorithm. The purpose of this update is to enable the search engine to identify and prioritize high-quality reviews for users who are searching for products.
This update is expected to take a few weeks to be fully implemented. If you’re interested in learning more about this update, you can visit The Keyword to read about Google’s efforts to provide better product reviews for search users. Additionally, Google provides advice on how to write high-quality product reviews, which could help your reviews rank higher in search results after the algorithm update.
February 22, 2022 – Page Experience Update
The page experience update is currently being rolled out for desktop search and is expected to be fully completed by March 2022. This update focuses on improving user experience by evaluating factors such as page load time, interactivity, and visual stability. If your website has a good page experience, it can potentially lead to higher search rankings and increased traffic. You can learn more about this update on Google Search Central.
December 1, 2021 – December 2021 Product Review Update
Additionally, Google has recently rolled out the December 2021 Product Review Update, which is specifically for English language pages. This update aims to reward high-quality content that provides in-depth analysis and insights on products. It is estimated to take three weeks to complete. For more information on this update, you can check out Google’s blog post on product review updates and your website.
November 30, 2021 – November 2021 Local Search Update
Google completed the November 2021 Local Search Update on December 8th, which focuses on improving local rankings. They suggest that businesses review their guidance on how to improve local rankings, so if you’re a local business, this is definitely something to pay attention to.
Overall, these updates can be seen as an opportunity to improve your website’s search engine ranking by providing a better user experience and producing high-quality content. Stay informed and make the necessary changes to ensure your website is ready for these updates.
November 17, 2021 – Broad Core Update
Google has recently announced several updates to improve search results and user experience. On November 17, 2021, a broad core update was released, which may impact search rankings. To ensure that your website is not negatively affected by this update, Google suggests following their guidelines for site owners, which were last updated in August 2019.
November 3, 2021 – Google Spam Update
In addition, Google has rolled out a spam update from November 3 to 11, 2021, aimed at removing spam content from search results. To avoid any negative impact on your website, it is important to continue following webmaster guidelines.
July 26, 2021 – Google Link Spam Algorithm Update
Google has also announced an algorithm update on July 26, 2021, targeting link spam. This update aims to identify and neutralize sites that engage in link spam tactics, with sponsored, guest, and affiliate content most likely to be impacted. This update is being rolled out in multiple languages and should be fully implemented in at least two weeks.
July 12, 2021 – July 2021 Core Update Completed
Website owners can breathe a sigh of relief as the July 2021 Core Update rollout has been completed as of July 12, 2021, with no additional details provided by Google. As always, it is important to keep an eye on future updates and ensure compliance with Google’s guidelines to maintain search engine rankings and website traffic.
July 12, 2021 – July 2021 Core Update Completed
Google has recently completed its July 2021 Core Update rollout on July 12th, according to a confirmation from Google Search Liaison on Twitter. While no additional details were provided, Google has shared guidance on core updates on its Search Central Blog, which can be a valuable resource for webmasters and site owners.
June 28, 2021 – Spam Update Part 2
In another update, Google has announced that it is rolling out the second part of its Spam Update, which began on June 28th and is expected to be completed on the same day. This update builds on Google’s previous efforts to fight search spam and ensure that search results remain relevant and reliable for users.
June 23, 2021 – June 2021 Spam Update
In June 2021, Google rolled out a Spam Update that specifically targets spam sites. According to Google’s Danny Sullivan, the update was designed to fight spam and improve the quality of search results. While no specific details were given, Google promised to provide another spam update within a week.
June 15, 2021 – Page Experience Update
In addition, Google also launched the much-awaited Page Experience Update, which aims to improve website user experience. While site owners should not expect drastic changes overnight, Google assures that any sudden drops or spikes should be mitigated by the gradual rollout process. The update will be completed by the end of August 2021.
June 10, 2021 – Known Victims Protection
Google is also making efforts to protect users from exploitative and predatory practices. Pandu Nayak, Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, discussed the company’s work towards improving the algorithm to demote sites that employ such practices. Google has also provided a link for users to report online harassment.
June 2, 2021 – Broad Core Algorithm Update
In another effort to improve search results, Google released a Broad Core Algorithm Update in June 2021. While some planned improvements were not yet ready for this update, Google assured users that these would be rolled out as part of a second, related Broad Core Algorithm Update scheduled for July.
April 8, 2021 – Product Reviews Update
On April 8, 2021, Google released a new search ranking algorithm update that rewards product reviews with in-depth research over those that only summarize multiple products. They also shared nine helpful questions for creating and publishing such reviews.
February 10, 2021 – Passage Ranking
Google’s Public Liaison for Search, Danny Sullivan, announced on February 10, 2021, that Passage Ranking was launched for English-language queries in the United States. This new feature allows Google to consider passages from web pages as an additional ranking factor, while still indexing pages and considering info about entire pages for ranking purposes.
December 3, 2020 – December 2020 Core Update
Google confirmed the rollout of the December 2020 Core Update, the third of the year, on December 3, 2020. This update had a longer time interval since the previous one compared to the average time between these types of updates.
May 4, 2020 – May 2020 Core Update
On May 4, 2020, Danny Sullivan announced via Twitter that Google was releasing a broad core algorithm update. The rollout took 1-2 weeks to complete.
January 22, 2020 – Featured Snippet Deduplication
On January 22, 2020, Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter that webpages in a featured snippet position would no longer be repeated in regular Page 1 organic listings, affecting 100% of all search listings worldwide.
January 13, 2020 – January 2020 Core Update
Google’s Danny Sullivan announced via tweet on January 13, 2020, that a broad core algorithm update was about to be released, with the same guidance provided as for all other recent updates of this kind.
December 9, 2019 – BERT (Worldwide)
On December 9, 2019, Danny Sullivan tweeted that BERT was starting its worldwide rollout, including various languages such as English, Spanish, French, and Chinese. BERT is an algorithm that uses natural language processing techniques to better understand user search queries.
The complete following language:
|Language||Country of Origin||Script|
|Chinese (Simplified & Taiwan)||China/Taiwan||Chinese|
|Malay (Brunei Darussalam & Malaysia)||Malaysia/Brunei||Latin|
October 25, 2019 – BERT Update
On October 25, 2019, Google announced the BERT Update, which it claimed was the most significant change to its search engine in the last five years. The update employs BERT models to enhance the search engine’s understanding of queries, affecting both search rankings and featured snippets. BERT will be applied to 10 percent of US English searches.
September 24, 2019 – Broad Core Algorithm Update
Google’s Danny Sullivan announced on September 24, 2019, that a broad core algorithm update would be implemented within a few hours and take a few days to roll out. This update is consistent with Google’s recent core algorithm updates and does not require any specific fixes.
August 1, 2019 – Featured Snippets Update
Google announced an algorithm update on August 1, 2019, aimed at ensuring the freshness of featured snippets in search results. The update prioritizes current information for queries where it is most useful.
June 2, 2019 – June 2019 Core Update
On June 2, 2019, Danny Sullivan tweeted that Google would be releasing a new broad core algorithm update on June 3. The update was confirmed as live on the following day, with the rollout continuing across Google’s data centers. No specific issues require fixing following a broad core algorithm update.
March 12, 2019 – March 2019 Core Update (a.k.a. Florida 2)
Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed a global broad core algorithm update on March 12, 2019. This update, known as Florida 2, was one of the most significant updates in years, according to SEJ. Following the update, Sullivan recommended following the guidance provided after the March 9, 2018 update.
February 13, 2019 – Valentine’s Day Update
Industry chatter suggested an unconfirmed update had taken place on and before February 13, 2019, known as the Valentine’s Day Update. However, unlike other updates, it appeared to have a mostly positive impact on search rankings.
October 31, 2018 – Unconfirmed Halloween Update
Around Halloween, some webmasters reported changes in rankings, suggesting a possible Google update. However, there was little evidence of a significant update. It was more likely that the chatter was caused by spillover effects from the August broad core algorithm update and Google’s increased use of neural matching.
September 27, 2018 – A “Small” Update in Google Algorithm History
On Google’s 20th birthday, many in the SEO community noticed significant fluctuations in traffic, indicating an update was underway. Some sites affected by the August broad core algorithm update recovered. Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter that a “smaller” update had taken place, although it was not a broad core algorithm update.
August 1, 2018 – Broad Core Algorithm Update
Google confirmed via Twitter the rollout of another broad core algorithm update, referred to as the “Medic” update by some, although Google claimed it was a general ranking update and not specifically targeting medical sites. Sullivan recommended following the guidance provided after the March 9, 2018 update.
April 16, 2018 – Broad Core Algorithm Update
Google confirmed the release of another broad core algorithm update via Twitter, indicating it was similar to the March 9, 2018 update, which focused on content relevance.
March 9, 2018 – Broad Core Algorithm Update
Google confirmed via Twitter that a broad core algorithm update had rolled out the prior week, aimed at “benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.” Google advised everyone to “continue building great content.”
December 12, 2017 – Maccabees Update
Some in the search community reported their websites being hit by an update between December 12 and 14. Google confirmed several minor changes to the core algorithm during this timeframe but downplayed the significance of the period of flux.
September 8, 2017 – Fall Flux
Industry chatter and SEO tracking tools suggested a possible Google update on this date, although it remained unconfirmed. Glenn Gabe detected several noteworthy Google changes impacting traffic and search visibility starting September 8, followed by additional volatility and fluctuations throughout September and October.
On August 19-20, 2017 – Quality Update
There was a minor fluctuation in search engine rankings observed by webmasters and SEO ranking tools. The changes suggested that there might have been another Google quality update, which was not confirmed. According to Glenn Gabe, the president of GSQi, category pages, pages with aggressive advertising, low-quality or thin content, and other elements that negatively affected the user experience were among the pages that suffered a drop in rankings. The analysis indicates that the algorithm might have been tested on August 14, as the pages that were impacted on that date were further affected on August 19.
Peni is a graduate in Education Business and Management who possesses a strong passion for digital marketing, social media marketing, and business development. With a professional background in both the education technology and marketing agency industries, Peni offers valuable and practical insights within the SEO industry via Stalinks blog