January - Intrusive Interstitial Penalty
Google announce changes to mobile search results by penalising sites with intrusive interstitials to make finding content easier for users.
October - Penguin 4.0
September - Possum Update
May - Mobile-friendly 2
February - AdWords: Goodbye Sidebar
October - RankBrain
On October 26th Google announced they are using an artificial intelligence system called ‘RankBrain’ to help filter search Results. It’s goal is to find pages users want without them using the exact words.
July - Google Panda
July 18th saw the start of a slow roll out for Google Panda after 10 months since the previous refresh in 2014. This impacts low quality and thin content and will be rolling out for a number of months.
June - The Colossus Update
A large temperature spike on MozCast could have been due to a Google HTTPS update or because Wikipedia are in the middle of switching their entire site to HTTPS (a procedure that may take a couple of weeks, having started on 12 June). Such a change to such a colossal website could indeed shake the entire web.
More info to come as the story unfolds.
May - Phantom: Quality Update
Initially named “Phantom 2” as large-scale impacts affected a spectrum of different classed websites without a pre-warning from Google, but was soon revealed to be a core algorithm change targeting quality signals, which affected any sites with low-quality content.
July - Pigeon: Local Search
The racing Pigeon always flies home, hence the name given to this algorithm update which radically changed local results, including how location cues are handled. This was a testing time for the local SEO world as Pigeon tied together local and core algorithms.
August - Hummingbird: Precise and Fast
Hummingbird is a core algorithm update that powers changes to semantic search, i.e. to better focus on the meaning behind words. Hummingbird is paying more attention to each and every word in a search query so that the whole sentence is taken into account rather than certain words. This meaning technology is in addition to the Knowledge Graph.
August - In-depth Articles
August 10 - Pirate
Google’s Pirate update aimed at penalising sites with repeat copyright violations by lowering their appearance in search results. Copyright infringement takedown can be requested by anyone via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
May 16 - Knowledge Graph
The Knowledge Graph was a massive push towards semantic search. A SERP-integrated display showcasing relevant facts and images about certain people, places and things.
January 10 - Search + Your World
November 2 - Freshness Update
The Freshness update was an algorithm change which primarily affected time-sensitive results, with a greater focus on recent content. This algorithmic improvement was also designed to better understand how to differentiate between the level of freshness users needed in a search query.
June - Caffeine
A boost to Google’s raw speed and revamp to its indexing infrastructure. Caffeine resulted in a 50% fresher index by integrating crawling and indexation. That meant all content was searchable within seconds after it was crawled, not just real-time content, which benefited both searchers and content owners.
May: May Day
Here Matt Cutts, who leads the web spam team at Google, talks about the May Day algorithm change and how it was impacting on long-tail sites (Long Tail is a way to describe niche marketing). Sites with large-scale thin content were also hit hard – a foreshadow to the Panda update.
April 10 - Google Places
The launch of Google Places re-branded the Local Business Center, offering tighter integration with local search results which included new local advertising options.
December - Real-Time Search
Real-time search for Google News, Twitter feeds and newly indexed content were integrated into a real-time feed on search pages.
February - Vince
A major update boosting big brands in search results. Matt Cutts explains how this change is about factoring trust into the algorithm for generic queries, which may convey the importance and value of a page.
April - Dewey
Dewey was an unspecified update, but there was some shuffling going on within the search tectonics which were suspected as being changes to Google’s internal properties.
June - Buffy
The Buffy update was an accumulation of small algorithm changes and was named in honor of Vanessa Fox who was leaving Google.
November - Supplemental Update
Google made changes to the supplemental index and claimed that results labelled as “supplemental” was not a penalty, which confused SEOs as these pages weren’t making it to the main index.
December - Big Daddy
The Big Daddy update changed the way in which Google would deal with URL canonicalization and redirects.
October - Google Local
Having launched Local Business Centre earlier in the year to encourage businesses to update their information, Google combined its Maps data into the LBC which also altered local SEO.
October - Jagger
Google rolled out a series of updates to crackdown on low-quality links, paid links and link farms.
June - Personalized Search
Tapping into the search histories of individual users and altering their search results was the goal of the Personalised Search update, which was an upgrade to previous personalization attempts which required custom settings and profiles.
May - Bourbon
Bourbon dealt out improvements on how non-canonical (www vs non-www) URLs and duplicate content were treated.
February - Allegra
The particulars of the Allegra update were undefined, but some webmasters speculated that it geared towards penalising suspicious links.
February - Brandy
Brandy represented a number of changes which included a huge index expansion, more focus on anchor text relevance and the notion of link “neighborhoods.” Google also rolled out Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which upgraded keyword analysis with the understanding of synonyms.
January - Austin
Austin continued where Florida left off and continued the clampdown on misleading on-page schemes like invisible text and META-tag stuffing. It was speculated that Google introduced the ‘Hilltop’ algorithm and began to take page relevance seriously.
November - Florida
Florida was a game-changing update that introduced a new era for SEO by cracking down on late 90s black-hat SEO techniques like keyword-stuffing. This caused many sites to lose their ranking, infuriating business owners.
June/July - Esmerelda & Fritz
Esmeralda was the final monthly update, signalling major infrastructure changes at Google. Then Fritz ended the monthly ‘Google Dance’ with an incremental approach, where the index was changing on a daily basis.
May - Dominic
Dominic brought what seemed to be radical changes in the way Google reported backlinks and other changes that were unclear. ‘Freshbot’ and ‘Deepcrawler’ (Google bots) crawled the web and many sites are stated to have bounced.
April - Cassandra
Cassandra clamped down on linking from co-owned domains and hidden text and links.
February - Boston
The first named Google update announced at SES Boston included emphasis on quality backlinks. Google aimed towards large monthly updates which included algorithm updates as well as index refreshes.
Before the days of rolling, continual updates, Google made changes in big chunks by calling together its data centers along with its index and cache. These updates could take many days to complete, during which noticeable fluctuations would occur on the Search Results Pages and would appear to dance around.
Google launch the Google Toolbar as a free browser plug-in to enable users to search for information. Google CEO and co-founder, Larry Page said, “The Google Toolbar provides fast access to Google’s best search tools from any web page on the Internet. Additionally, the powerful feature set enables users to save time while searching for information.”
Page Rank is the first Google algorithm, invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, which measured the importance of website pages by counting the number and quality of links to a page.