A History Of Google Algorithm Updates

Posted By Axonn on 11th August 2014

Oh Google. We love you and we hate you. You taunt us with the possibility of rising up through those enigmatic rankings, only to post an update a few days later pushing us back down to the lowly gutters of page seven. We live by you and we die by you, and like some kind of crazy ex, you’re always changing your mind about what you want.


Over the last four years, Google’s algorithm has had 92 noteworthy updates. That’s a lot of change to make in four years. But Google has to change and adapt to our evolving browsing behaviour,current trends and of course, our ever-more-demanding list of expectations and requirements.

But 92 is a lot of updates to keep on top of, even for marketers. We might be aware of Penguin and Panda, but what about 2010’s May Day update? Or the finer intricacies of Panda 2.3- do we really need to know each one of these inside out?

The good news is no we don’t, but there are several Google updates that we do need to be aware of to maximise our content and keep us in Google’s good books.

Go Local

Google has made several updates to prioritise local results, from 2010’s Google Places, to 2012’s Venice update to the recent Pigeon update. Even if you don’t have a local strategy, there are several things you can do to ensure that your business doesn’t drop in the rankings. Simple on-page updates such as adding your address to your homepage footer (with postcode and phone number-including local area code), and including location-related content in your copy and meta description can help push your site up in local search results pages.

Get rid of spammy links

Google Panda has gone through several updates and evolutions since its launch in February 2011, but the message is still the same- sites with low-quality links purely for SEO purposes will be punished. Black hat SEO techniques and pages filled with keywords and links to “beat the system” were all the rage ten years ago, so go back and check through your site for spammy links, and contact anybody who was paid to post a link to ask them to change those links to no-follow links.

Keep it fresh

Google’s Caffeine update might have been way back in June 2010, but the importance of fresh content is still prevalent today. Keep your content new and interesting, and repurpose and update it when necessary so Google always has something new to index.

Don’t forget social media

There is some confusion over whether Google’s 2010 Social Signals update is still in effect (the update involved pushing links that had high social media responses and shares up in SERPs) as Google now claims it does not take Facebook and Twitter into consideration (many believe Google changed its stance on this with the introduction of Google+), but Matt Cutts (head of the webspam team at Google) has been clear that social media is still important in creating interesting, shareable content to encourage more backlinks (thus increasing search results placement).

Although these updates are some of the most significant in the last four years, they are just the tip of the iceberg. While it is unlikely that you will need to understand all algorithm updates (there are hundreds a month), a good working knowledge of Google is paramount when developing intelligent content strategies.

To make this simple, we’ve created an interactive timeline of 92 of the key updates Google has made in the last four years, giving you the opportunity to start at the beginning of 2010 and see how the web has been shaped by Google. All the important updates, from big to small, Penguin to Pigeon.

Kenny Davies, senior content optimisation specialist here at Axonn, says every digital marketer needs to know at least this much about Google and how it may affect their SEO. Both marketers and webmasters need to be aware of all these factors when creating and managing a site, so providing them with the right education is necessary.

Check out our interactive timeline below: