Timeline of Major Google Search Algorithm Updates

By Gordon Smith

Timeline of major Google updates. We don’t go into detail about the rollout of the Panda update which has been ongoing for several years.

Update name Date Category Effect Further reading
Medic 21/08/2018 Core updates Location and organic results affected.
Lifestyle, money and health websites largely affected.
Mobile-First Indexing 26/03/2018   Most websites moved to mobile-first indexing. Google now crawling most websites as if using a mobile instead of desktop. https://searchengineland.com/google-begins-rolling-out-mobile-first-indexing-to-more-sites-295095
Penguin 4.0 23/09/2016 Core updates.
Penguin now part of the core algorithm instead of being run at various times. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/09/penguin-is-now-part-of-our-core.html
Mobile-Friendly 2 12/05/2016 Mobile. Google boost mobile-friendly sites further. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/03/continuing-to-make-web-more-mobile.html
RankBrain 26/10/2015 Core updates. Machine learning now baked into the core algorithm. https://searchengineland.com/faq-all-about-the-new-google-rankbrain-algorithm-234440
Mobilegeddon 22/04/2015 Mobile. Google announce that mobile and web results will now differ. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html
Pigeon 22/12/2014 Local search. Improvements in local search results. https://searchengineland.com/google-pigeon-update-rolls-uk-canada-australia-211576
Pirate 2.0 21/10/2014 Core Downranking of pirate media websites.  
HTTPS/SSL 06/08/2014 Core Preference now given to secure sites  
Hummingbird 20/08/2013 Core Google replaces its core engine with prior updates now baked in. https://searchengineland.com/google-hummingbird-172816
Penguin 2.0 22/05/2013 Core. Penguin.    
Exact Match Domain (EMD) 27/09/2012 Core. Exact and keyword-match domains no longer given preference. https://moz.com/blog/googles-emd-algo-update-early-data
Penguin 1.0 24/04/2012 Core. Spammy websites penalised. https://search.googleblog.com/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-quality.html
Freshness 3/11/2011 Core. Sites with up-to-date content rewarded. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/giving-you-fresher-more-recent-search.html
Schema.org 02/06/2011   Google, Yahoo and Microsoft sign up to a uniform approach to machine-readable data. https://searchengineland.com/schema-org-google-bing-yahoo-unite-79554
Panda 23/02/2011 Core Spammy website, thin content, content farms and built-for-ads sites downranked https://www.wired.com/2011/03/the-panda-that-hates-farms/