Google Algorithm Updates

Important Google Algorithm Updates Till 2020

Today I am going to explain to you the most important Google algorithm updates and how you can optimize your website for these updates. These updates can make or break your website traffic. 

1. Pada : 

Launch date: Feb 24, 2011

Impact: Duplicate, plagiarized or thin content; user-generated spam; keyword stuffing

How it works: Panda assigns “ Quality score ” to web pages; this score is then used as a ranking factor.

In January 2016, it was officially incorporated into the core algorithm. 

How to adjust: To adjust for panda update checks for content duplication, thin content, and keyword stuffing and update your website according to that. 

2. Penguin

Launch date: April 24, 2012

Impact: Spammy or irrelevant links; links with over-optimized anchor text

How it works: With this update, google identifies sites that seem manipulative. If your website has spammy, irrelevant links, then this update will recognize that and penalized the site.

Since late 2016, Penguin has been part of Google’s core algorithm; unlike Panda, it works in real-time.


  1. Monitor your link profile growth, for that regular run audit and check backlink profile.  
  2. Find out spammy links that are directed toward your site.
  3. Check for unusual spikes in link growth – this can be an alarming factor to check for usual spammy link
  4. Add website links to disavow – if they are spammy, for that check their MOZ spam score.


Launch date: August 22, 2013

Impact: Sites with – Keyword stuffing; low-quality content

How it works: Hummingbird update gives importance to 

searcher’s intent rather than just a keyword. That doesn’t mean keywords will not be relevant. But, this update will look for the “user intent” behind every search query. 

So, with this update, Google may show results which do not contain the “search keyword” but satisfy searchers’ intent.

How to adjust: Focus on Concept! Not on the keyword. To do this, expand your keyword research – Don’t just get stuck with keyword but go more in-depth into search intent. Use google related searches and google autocomplete to incorporate all possible queries.

4. Pigeon

Launch date: July 24, 2014 

Impact: Poor on- and off-page SEO

How it works: This update gives importance to traditional On-Page and Off-Page factors for local results. Thought all these factors are essential for all types of websites, but if your site is local, then these factors will play a crucial role in website ranking position. 

How to adjust: Invest effort into on- and off-page SEO. A good starting point is running an on-page analysis and then optimize it with necessary changes.

5. Mobile – aka Mobilegeddon

Launch date: April 21, 2015

Impact: Lack of a mobile version of the page; poor mobile usability

How it works: This update ensures that mobile-friendly pages rank at the top of mobile search, while pages not optimized for mobile are filtered out from SERP or downranked.

How to adjust: Go mobile and focus on speed and usability. Google’s mobile-friendly test will help you see which aspects of your page’s mobile version needs to be improved. 

6. RankBrain

Launch date: October 26, 2015

Impact: Lack of query-specific relevance features; shallow content; poor UX

How it works: RankBrain is part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. It is a machine learning system that is based on NLP i.e. natural language process it helps Google understand the meaning behind queries and serve best-matching search results in response to those queries. 

Google calls RankBrain the third most important ranking factor. While we don’t know the ins and outs of RankBrain, the general opinion is that it identifies relevance features for web pages ranking for a given query, which are query-specific ranking factors.

How to adjust: Optimize content for relevance for a concept which you are covering in the content pice. For that, you can run competitive analysis, and based on what works for others, you can optimize your content to satisfy user intent better.  

7. Possum

Launch date: September 1, 2016

Impact: Tense competition in your target location / Local Result 

How it works: This update ensures local results based on searcher location and query type. That is, if someone is searching for “Restaurant near me” then, Google will track the searcher’s location and, based on that show the local result.

How to adjust: If you are location-based business or business which provides its services in certain localities, then you can target long-tail keywords in your content strategy to optimize for this update.  

 8. Fred

Launch date: March 8, 2017

Impact: Thin, affiliate-heavy or ad-centered content

How it works: This update identifies the website, which adds heavy. Means sites that are placing ads throughout the page on the site, which by default, disturb the user experience. So, the websites with low-quality posts created mostly to generate ad revenue get impacted with Fred update.

How to adjust: Review Google Search Quality Guidelines and watch out for thin content. If you show ads, make sure the pages they are found on are high-quality and offer ample relevant information. This is basically it: Don’t try to trick Google into thinking your page is about something when it is a gateway page full of affiliate links.


Launch date: 2019

Impact: Every 1 in 10 queries 

How it works: This update is based on NLP – natural language processing, so with this update, Google will able to understand “nuance” and “context” of the word more clearly and will show results accordingly.

How to adjust: As it identifies searcher’s intent more clearly based on NLP we can’t optimize for this update. But, the good thing is, as we now know that Google can understand queries like humans do. So optimizing the content beyond “keyword” and try to write comprehensive content optimizing for “concept” and user experience. This will automatically optimize content for BERT update.

So that’s it for my Top 9 Google Algorithm Updates  

Now, I have one question for you.

Which updates you were not aware of? It’s Hummeberg or BERT? Or any other google update from the top 9? 

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now. 

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