You might not know this unless you are knee-deep in the world of search engine optimization every minute of every day, but Google makes tiny tweaks and changes to their search engine algorithm on an almost daily basis – sometimes a couple of times each day, even.
It’s very rare that two or three days go by without the folks at Google testing or tweaking something, always in the pursuit of helping deliver the most relevant and the fastest results possible for any individual search query.
At the same time, there has been a handful of major milestone Google algorithm updates that have totally and completely transformed the platform more than maybe anything else.
We dig into some of the most influential algorithm updates from Google below.
Rolled out in February 2011, right at the end of the month, Panda transformed Google search results from top to bottom in such a dramatic way that the phrase “Google slap” became popularized almost overnight.
Panda was introduced as a method to avoid duplicate, plagiarized, or otherwise “thin” content that was nothing more than overly keyword-stuffed garbage design just to game the algorithm itself.
A lot of people – A LOT of people – found themselves shuffled to the back of the Google search engine deck almost overnight when this algorithm was finalized.
Almost a year after the Panda update turned everything on its head the Penguin update from Google shook things up all over again, this time, even more, laser-focused on junk links that people have been using to abuse the Google search engine algorithm up to that point.
This update introduced a lot of (what would later become permanent) changes to the Google algorithm specifically revolving around identifying sites that were trying to abuse different parts of the Google algorithm for their own selfish benefits, delisting them, and deprioritizing them.
Both Penguin and Panda are fundamental to the Google algorithm now and are regularly tweaked and updated.
Hummingbird hit the deck with a really focused mandate – to find websites that were ranking highly due to keyword stuffing and to boot them to the back of the Google sandbox.
This algorithm update helped Google to better interpret individual search engine queries and provide far more relevant results much faster than ever before.
We have been doing testing at Dynamics Digital to test these theories and it turns out they are true. Keywords were still important (and remained important), but the Hummingbird update made exact keyword matches a lot less important.
This 2013 update really helped to modernize the algorithm, improving its natural language processing capabilities while allowing it to lean on latent semantic indexing, co-occurring terms, and relevant and related synonyms.
Pigeon was a two-part Google algorithm update that initially rolled out in the United States in July 2014 and then in December of the same year in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
This specific update revolved around cleaning up poor and lazy attempts at optimizing on-page and off-page search engine optimization.
Pigeon was the update that really worked to tie local algorithms and the “universal” core algorithm together in ways that have made them almost inseparable today.
Traditional search engine optimization efforts and tactics could now be used to improve overall local results, changing the way that people went about improving their SEO even still today.