On an average, Google updates or changes its algorithm nearly 500 times during one year. Most of these updates are usually minor and do not affect SERPs much. Google occasionally rolls out a major update that affects your online presence and search engine optimization (SEO). Here are the major Google algorithm updates in the recent years you need to know.
Google’s Panda Update was first launched on 24th February 2011 and has been updated several times. Five years later, that is in 2016, Google added it to the core ranking algorithm. The main purpose of this update is to counter spam and weak content that don’t provide quality to the Internet users. Panda serves this purpose by assigning a quality score to web pages. Avoid plagiarism, spamming and keyword stuffing to avoid Google Panda Penalty.
On 24th April 2012, Google came with Penguin Update to punish the website that uses spammy, irrelevant or over-optimized anchor text links. Panda works in real time and has been the part of Google’s core algorithm. To avoid penalties run frequent audits to check backlinks. If any low quality or irrelevant link is found, then get rid of them quickly.
Hummingbird was launched on 22nd August 2013; the purpose of this update was to provide more relevant and expected results to the users. Here the focus was to bring search results based on the intent behind the search query, rather than individual keywords within the query. As the result of which, Google shows the relevant results in search engine results page that doesn’t necessarily have exact keywords.
Google came up with the Pigeon Update in July 2015 in order to provide precise and relevant results for local search queries. Both Google map search and Google web search are influenced by this update. Google started to use traditional SEO factors to rank local results and established closer ties between the local algorithm and the core algorithm. Pigeon update impact websites negatively that are poorly optimization for search engine.
In April 2015, Google brought a major change in its algorithm in the form of Google Mobile-Friendly Update. The purpose of this update is to prioritize mobile-friendly web pages over the web pages that are not mobile friendly. Consequently, the pages which aren’t mobile friendly are down-ranked. You can find out whether your website is mobile friendly or not via Google’s mobile-friendly test. It can make things easy for you and provide recommendations to fix existing problems.
In October 2015, Google launched RankBrain and confirmed that it is the third most important ranking factor. The prime focus of this update was to make Google understand the meaning behind a search query, and provide the most relevant search results. RankBrain gives consideration to traditional SEO factors and as well as other factors that are query-specific.
Possum came into effect since September 2016. Here the idea was to take the physical location of the searcher into account and provide results relevant to that location. In simple words, if a searcher types “carpenter” in the search box, then he is most likely to get results of carpenters who are near his physical location. This update made things easier for the Internet users and saved time.
On 8th March 2017, Google confirmed the Fred update. Although this update was confirmed, Google did not reveal any parameters, and only stated that Fred penalizes websites that violate Google Webmaster Guidelines. However, there is a pattern seen in the affected sites. All affected sites are mostly content based sites or blogs that contain low-quality content created for the purpose of generating ad revenue.