Google Algorithm Updates That Rolled Out Over the 5 Years


by Satish Singh

If you keep up with digital marketing or even just regularly look online for services or any other information, you’ve probably heard about Google algorithms. But have you ever wondered what they’re exactly and how they affect websites and eCommerce stores’ ranking?

What are Google Algorithms?

Google’s algorithms are a complex system that searches out web pages that contain keywords you use to search. In other terms, it used to retrieve data from its search index and instantly deliver the best possible results on a user searched query. The search engine- Google uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking factors to deliver websites ranked by relevance on its SERPs.

Below I have compiled a full list of Google algorithms launches & updates that have rolled out over the years.

2019 Updates

BERT Algorithm Update- October 25th, 2019

Google announced ‘’BERT’’ (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update on 25th October 2019 but reported that it has already been rolling out for a few days. According to Google, this will affect 10% of U.S English search queries, which means this is one of the biggest Google updates of the last 5 years.

Broad Core Algorithm Update- September 24th, 2019

Google’s March and June 2019 core updates were about them wanting to better evaluate (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) E-A-T criteria. The September 2019 Broad Core Algorithm, however, tells a different story. If affected by the update, Google has suggested paying attention to major factors: content & quality, expertise, presentation & production, and competitive comparison.

Core update- June 2nd, 2019

Google actually pre-announced this June 2019 Core Update on Twitter, letting the SEO industry know that a broad core algorithm update would be rolling out over the next few days. The SEO community has pondered the idea of this Google algorithm being a reversal of the March 2019 core update. Analysis of web traffic that shows a variety of niches has seen volatility in rankings and Google is heavily focused on user search intent.

Broad Core Search Algorithm Update- March 13th, 2019

Google launched a big core algorithm update on March 12, 2019, that caused some websites to see an increase in search traffic while other sites declined in traffic worldwide. It seems to be a successor of the August 1, 2019 Medic update however this time it will impact sites more broadly and focused on a few new areas.

2018 Updates

Medic Update- August 1st, 2018

With the Medic update, Google changed the significance of its algorithm’s core ranking factors. This update is the overall framework for how your content gets ranked in the search results. This broad core update affected many prominent sites in the health and medical niche and was named the ‘Medic Google Update’’ by Barry Schwartz.

Algorithm Quality Update- Mid May 2018

Google which is known as a major search engine continued to make tweaks to their algorithm in May to reward quality content as they did the previous two months. Websites that wasted Google’s crawl rates primarily through duplicacy as well as high loading times, high bounce rates and ad-heavy content saw the biggest rankings drop in this Google update.

A Change to the Core Update- Mid March 2018

This change to the rankings algorithm was implemented to not punish any specific niche, but to simply reward websites that are doing things right.

2017 Updates

‘Maccabees’ Update- December 14th, 2017

Well, there was no official announcement for this update by Google other than confirmation of several small Google updates occurring around this time. Maccabees update caused a stir when prominent digital marketer’s websites along with eCommerce store rankings took a hit during the busy holiday season.

Google Fred Update- Mid March 2017

The Google Fred update’s main target was low-quality content. This was done in an attempt to rank websites higher without putting in a quality effort.

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty Update- January 10th, 2017

Google’s penalty to publish websites with intrusive popups went into effect after this Google update.

2016 Updates

Google Penguin 4.0 Update- September 23rd, 2016

Google Penguin 4 was announced in September through webmaster blog and includes a few major pieces. First, it is now a part of the core algorithm and will go real-time! Second, it will be more ‘’granular’’ or page-specific as opposed to affecting the entire domain.

Possum Update- September 2nd, 2016

Google’s Possum Algorithm Update was announced via Tweet to filter out duplicate and spammy results in the local pack and Google Maps in an attempt to provide more quality and diverse search results to people for a local business or service.

Google Mobilegeddon- April 22nd, 2016

In their quest to make websites more mobile-optimized, Google’s John Mueller has confirmed the completion of the rollout of the algorithm update that increases the effect of the ranking signal for the web- pages that are relevant to a user’s search query and are mobile-friendly.

Adwords Update- February 23rd, 2016

On Feb 23rd, 2016, this paid search updated was rolled out to remove sidebar ads in the search results and adds a 4th ad to the top block.

Ghost Update- January 8th, 2016

A lot of SEO tools reported changes and many fluctuations around these dates in early January. Most SEO experts expected this to be the new Penguin update, but Google denies this. Google officially launched later on that this was a core algorithm update. There were no reports of huge losses.

2015 Updates

Rank Brain Algorithm Change- October 26th, 2015

Google has announced a change to its algorithm called Rank Brain– Basically Artificial Intelligence (AI) learning. There are no new glaring differences in website ranking factors, however.

Google Zombie Update- October 15th, 2015

This was not an official update by Google but many webmasters reported big fluctuations around this time. There was a huge thread at the webmaster’s world about it.

Google Local 3 Pack- August 6th, 2015

A major change is Google’s local search happened in the month of August. It’s not an algorithm change but an important update for websites. Google rolled out a new design for local, getting rid of the normal local 7-pack and trimming it to a local 3-pack view.

Google Quality Update- May 3rd, 2015

Google officially confirmed it made changes to its core ranking algorithm in the month of May in terms of how quality signals are processed.

Google Mobile-Friendly Update- April 21st, 2015

This Google’s mobile-friendly ranking factor algorithm update was rolled out to add mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal that affects mobile searches internationally across all languages. This update can have a significant impact on SERPs while providing better and more relevant results for users.

Grow Better with Google Updates

As an SEO consultant and marketer, Google updates may seem repetitive, detailed and a lot of work. But it’s important to remember that Google wants to deliver fantastic search experience to its users.. including you and me. These algorithm updates are designed to prune out the lazy, bad-quality and illegal content that’s not only filling up our search queries but also competing with our own business and promotional content.

In short, these Google algorithms are a good thing for online businesses! It’s up to you to use them to your advantage.


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As the owner of Exaalgia for over 10 years, Satish Singh has helped businesses achieve success through SEO, PPC and other Internet marketing efforts. He is currently Google Analytics and Google Adwords Certified, as well as a certified Woorank Expert. Satish strives to remain up to date with the latest developments in technology and helps his clients improve and maintain their search engine rankings.

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