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11 Important Google Algorithm Updates Every SEO Professional Should Know

Important Google Algorithm Updates

This chapter will teach you the most Important Google Algorithm Updates that every SEO professional should know in order to rank their website or webpage on the top of Google SERPs.


important google algorithm updates


The main goal of the Google search engine is to produce relevant results for search-users. It wants to give a high degree of positive search experience to its users without any compromise. To keep up with this user-friendly policy, Google, regularly (on a day-to-day basis) updates or brings changes to its ranking algorithm.

The important Google Algorithm updates range from minor ones to majors affecting websites all over the world. In this chapter let us review a few famous and important Google algorithm updates and how it affects SEO.

List Of Important Google Algorithm Updates


#1. Google Panda

Google Panda is an update to Google’s search engine ranking algorithm. It was released in February 2011.

It detects websites with duplicate, plagiarised and thin content(content with very fewer words per article that is of less value to search users) and penalizes such websites by lowering its ranking in the SERPs.

By lowering the ranks of such websites, the high-quality websites start ranking higher on the SERPs. Google Panda also helps search engines detect websites stuffed with keywords and ranks such websites down.

#2. Google Penguin

Google Penguin is a Google algorithm update that was launched on April 24, 2012. The major factor that the search engine uses to rank a particular website is by counting the number of quality external links (links from other websites) that points to it.

Having known this, several website owners started getting external links manipulatively or illegally to their websites. Such illegal ways of obtaining link points to your website are considered a black-hat technique and are famously called link schemes.

Google Penguin update detects such kind of websites that are involved in unnatural link building schemes and immediately down ranks such sites from SERPs.

#3. Google Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird is a completely rewritten algorithm rather just an update. It was launched in August 2013.

Before this update, the Google search engine emphasized more on the matching of exact keyword user typed on the query box to return relevant results from the web. Google looked for web pages in its database that contained the exact keyword that the user queried and returned links of such websites on SERPs. Google soon realized that these search results did not exactly satisfy the user looking for information. That is when the whole search algorithm was rewritten and was named “Hummingbird”.

Hummingbird’s main idea was to take up the user queried keyword and understand that user’s intent behind the queried keyword and return results that are more relevant to the user’s actual intent.

This is achieved with the help of natural language processing which uses the context of the keyword queried and its internal meaning rather than the keyword itself. It is also called latent semantic indexing and makes use of synonyms of the keywords. Such a search is also called “semantic search”. In other words, the Hummingbird algorithm update gives more of a personalized search experience.

#4. Google Pigeon

Google Pigeon update was launched in July 2014. The main goal of this update is to rank websites higher on SERPs based on location and distance from where a particular user is querying for information.

After this update, the websites listed in the local directory started to rank higher on SERPs for a particular location search within a specific distance. This update was majorly helpful to local business and users looking for services at their nearby localities.

#5. Mobilegeddon –  A Mobile Friendly Update

Mobilegeddon update was launched in March 2015. Google noticed a surge in smartphone users and understood how users have started searching for information using smartphones.

To give a pleasant experience to such users, Mobilegeddon update was released to rank websites that are mobile friendly on the top of the SERPs. This update also down-ranked many websites that are not optimized for mobile phones.

#6. Google RankBrain

Google RankBrain is a major update and a part of the Hummingbird algorithm. It was launched in October 2015.

The update intends to provide more meaningful search results to users by understanding the meaning and user intent behind the search query even if the search engine is not familiar with the queried keyword or phrase.

It basically works with an intelligence guess mechanism using an artificial intelligence system. Google’s RankBrain is considered as the third most important factor other than content and links to rank a particular webpage on the top of SERPs.

#7. Google Possum

Google Possum update (nicknamed by SEO community) was launched in September 2016 to give a boost to local business that is closer to the city limits (in the border) but technically out of the city.

Google realized that such businesses should be listed on local search results for that particular city, even though they are technically out of the city.

In the same update, Google also swept away the search rankings of a website that had multiple listings for the same sites in different individual’s names. Google filtered out such duplicate entries based on phone number, domain name and physical address of the listing.

#8. Fred

Google Fred update was launched in March 2017. Its main aim was to lower the ranking of websites or web pages that content-wise added no value to users but were completely focused on aggressive monetization through advertisements.

#9. Pirate

Google Pirate update was launched in August 2012. Google has its own system called the Google DMCA system, where users can file and report copyright violations from other website owners for copying their content. It is a kind of piracy complaint filing system.

The Google Pirate update is basically a filter that lowers the rank of websites and prevents it from ranking if the site has been reported multiple times for copyright infringement from other users and website owners.

#10. Google EMD (Exact Match Domain)

Google EMD update was launched in September 2012. Earlier to EMD update, there were several poor quality sites that enjoyed higher search engine rankings just for the sake that they had the exact search query keyword as part of their domain name.

For example, if the search query was digital marketing training, the website that had the domain name as [ digitalmarketingtraining.com] used to rank high on SERPs.

With EMD update, such websites with literally no quality content were dropped from the Google search rankings. While the ones with good content remained on the top.

#11. Google Top Heavy

Google Top Heavy update was rolled out in January 2012. According to Google Top Heavy update, websites that prioritize advertisements above user-needed content will lose its search rankings. Google will downrank those sites that do not provide the actual content to the user when they land on a webpage.


Congratulations! You are done with the third chapter on “11 Important Google Algorithm Updates Every SEO Professional Should Know”. Hope you enjoyed the reading.




All the best for your next chapter on “Google PageRank Algorithm In A Nutshell”. In the next chapter, you will learn how the Google search engine considers a particular website for ranking on top of their SERPs. 

Feel free to comment below if this blog post was useful or not. If yes, please do me a favor by sharing it with others who might benefit.

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Subhash.K.U is a Professional Programmer turned Digital Marketing Enthusiast. He is the most sought marketing consultants for small and medium scale businesses. He founded Subhash Digital Academy to teach professional digital marketing skills to students, entrepreneurs, and working professionals. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and is an Oracle Certified Programmer. He also holds certificates of Google AdWords, Facebook Blueprint and Hubspot Marketing. He is the co-author of the best selling book – Cracking The C, C++ and Java Interview published by McGraw Hill. He is now penning another book on the subject of marketing and entrepreneurship.

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