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Google Algorithm Changes 1998-2012

ALGORITHM Google's CHANOES Go 1998 Each year, Google changes its search algorithm up to 500-600 times. While most of these changes are minor, every few months GOOGLE LAUNCHING March 1998 Google rolls out a "major" algorithmic update that affect search results in significant ways. The first search engine using link metrics for rankings was launched. THE CASSANDRA UPDATE April 2003 2000 GOOGLE TOOLBAR It concerned some basic link quality issues and was hostile December 2000 to hidden links and hidden text. Google browser toolbar - Toolbar PageRank (TBPR). This is the time when the argumenta- tions about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) began. launches their THE DOMINIC UPDATE 1ST DOCUMENTED May 2003 THE BOSTON UPDATE February 2003 UPDATE September 2002 Google changed the way back- links are reported and counted. Many webmasters note bounces after the bots "Deepcrawler" The first documen- ted Google update. 2002 First announced at SES 2004 Boston, it is the first named Google update. The first few updates were algorithm com- binations and were aimed at Changes although unclear, were more and "Freshbot" were released. than just the casual PageRank update. the monthly index refresh (the so called Google Dance). THE AUSTIN UPDATE January 2004 2003 This update came as enhance- ment to the previous Florida, as it continued to oppose the On-Page tactics as keyword stuffing and invisible text. There were some speculations about Google updating their algorithm so it takes seriously page relevance. THE FLORIDA UPDATE November 2003 THE ESMERELDA UPDATE June 2003 Putting end SEO to tech- nics used in the late 90s THE SUPPLEMENTAL INDEX "Google Dance" was replaced with "Everflux", this was indica- tor for the upcoming changes in Google. It was the last of the regular monthly updates. September 2003 THE FRITZ UPDATE - July 2003 as keyword stuffing. A lot of sites lost rankings. The SEO became more challenging. This allowed Google to index more documents without any changes in the performance level. Google index is now changing daily instead of monthly. Fritz caused the end of the monthly "Google Dance". THE NOFOLLOW January 2005 2005 THE BRANDY UPDATE - February 2004 Google with cooperation with Microsoft and Yahoo intro- A great variety of changes. The LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) enhanced Google ability to figure out synonyms and completely changed the keyword analysis. THE ALLEGRA UPDATE duced the "nofollow" link attribute. Its main purpose is to help with the cleaning oft the spam but it had great impact on the links February 2005 There were changes in the rankings changes of this but the overall update remained unclear. There were speculations about Google penalizing the suspicious links. THE BOURBON UPDATE May 2005 PERSONALIZED SEARCH As the guys from Google announced it is "something like 3.5 changes in search quality". Webmasters weren't sure what exactly the innoa- tions are but the speculation was that "Bourbon" changed the way how non-canonical and duplicate content were treated (the battle between www and non-www). June 2005 THE GOOGLE LOCAL/MAPS UPDATE October 2005 Google began using the history searches for the automatic of the It was a move that drove to several changes in local SEO. Google Maps data was merged into the LBC to encourage businesses to update their site information. user adjustment of the results. The effect was small at first, but Google continue to use search history for many applications. 2008 THE GILLIGAN UPDATE September 2005 THE XML SITEMAPS - June 2005 THE GOOGLE SUGGEST UPDATE August 2008 Google claimed there were no major changes in this update. Index data is being updated daily but some metrics as Toolbar PR once every 3 months. The traditional HTML sitemaps were changed with XML sitemaps. This allowed Webmasters to submit XML sitemaps via Webmaster Tools and gave SEOS the opportunity to influence over indexation and crawling. the introduction of the drop- down suggesticons below the search box, appearing while users are typing their queries. THE FALSE ALARM December 2006 THE DEWEY UPDATE THE JAGGER UPDATE April 2008 2006 October 2005 Despite the reports for great changes in the rankings, the Google guys said there are no major modifications. although it appeared as there is great shuffle at the end of March and the beginning of April the changes brought by this update were unclear. The speculations were that Google enhances its own properties (including Google Books). THE BIG DADDY UPDATE this update began roughly and stretched to October, when it had the peak of its impact. The targets of this update were link farms, paid links, low-quality links and reciprocal links. December 2005 An update in the basis of Google that concerns the way it handles redirects 301/302, canonicaliza- tion and technical issues THE SUPPLEMENTAL UPDATE November 2006 THE UNVERSAL SEARCH UPDATE May 2007 Changes in the way that filtered pages were treated. Although it felt a bit like penalty, Google claimed there are no such things. Not a typical algorithm update, Google THE MAY DAY managed integrate news, pictures, videos and many other features, chang- ing greatly their format. but to UPDATE May 2010 Released at the end of April and early May, the effect was 2007 great drops in the long-tail THE BUFFY UPDATE traffic. 1,2009 June 2007 Later it was confirmed that the algorithm impacts on the long-tails. Judging by what Matt Cutts said - the update is just accumula- tion of small changes. 2010 THE GOOGLE PLACES UPDATE April 2010 THE VINCE UPDATE February 2009 THE BRAND UPDATE August 2010 THE CAFFEINE (ROLLOUT) UPDATE As it was reported by SEOS, it looked like the update favo strongly the big brands, despite the fact Matt Cutts announced that Vince brings some "minor changes". June 2010 firstly presented as a part of Google Maps in 2009. With its official launch in was Finally Google finished integrating the Caffeine infrastructure. The update boosted the raw speed of Google, and in a way fixed indexation and crawling (according to Google the results were up-to 50% fresher index). It does not refer to the usual algo- rithm updates as Google allowed multiple results for one domain on a SERP (having in mind that before that April 2010, the update brought new local search results and gave the opportunity of new local advertisement options domains were restricted to only 1-2 listings). THE REL-CANONICAL TAG UPDATE INSTANT PREVIEWS November, 2010 GOOGLE INSTANT September, 2010 February 2009 In November, an icon with a magnify ing glass appeared on the search results in Google and allowed visitors to preview a landing page without visiting it. This showed that Google renewed their focus on landing page design, usability and quality. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo annunciated their support for the Canonical Tag. This gave opportunity for the webmas- Google Instant was an expansion of Google Suggest, showing THE REAL-TIME SEARCH UPDATE December 2009 search results while the user was still typing. The impact on SEO was fairly small. ters to send canonicalization The real-time search was a fact: Google News, Twitter feeds, freshly signals to search bots without having any impact on the human visitors. indexed content and other different sources. All were integrated into real-time feed for some of the SERPS. In the same THE CAFFEINE UPDATE PREVIEW August 2009 time sources keep on ex panding (social media as well). Google released preview of a massive infrastructure change. The innovations were: increased speed of crawling, expanded index, and last but not least - integration of indexation and ranking almost in real-time. SOCIAL SIGNALS December, 2010 Bing and Google both confirmed they were taking into consideration social signals to help determine ranking. This new develop- ment uses data from Facebook and Twitter. 2011 OVERSTOCK.COM PENALTY NEGATIVE REVIEWS December, 2010 January 2011 After the New York Times published a material on the e-commerce site DecorMyEyes and its rankings that were based on negative reviews, Google made some changes to the algorithm in order to target websites us ing similar tricks. In January, Overstock was penalized publicly by Google for using shady SEO tactics to boost their rankings. Similarly, JCPenny was also hit with such a penalty in February. THE +1 BUTTON March 30, 2011 PANDA FARMER February 23,2011 ATTRIBUTION UPDATE January 28, 2011 In the end of March, Google placed a +1 button next to the results links responding to the competition (Facebook and Twitter). By clicking the +1 button, users are able to influence both organic and paid search results within their social circle This was one of the big updates that affected 12% of all search results. The update is intended to deal with a lot of site quality issues such as content farms, thin content and others. The update came to Europe in April the same year. This update was a response to many so called "high- profile" spam cases and was meant to stop scrapers. This update had an impact on about 2% of the searches. +1 PANDA 2.0 April 11, 2011 PANDA 2.1 May 9, 2011 SCHEMA.ORG June 2, 2011 PANDA 2.2 June 21, 2011 The Panda update affected all English queries around the world. Some new factors started to be taken into Panda was updated once again but this the updates were done not in real Another set of changes Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! joined efforts in order to make the job of the webmasters easier by providing a collection of schemas (in other words html tags). Some new "schemas" consideration such as data about websites that were were made to the blocked by users via the Chrome browser or the SERPS. Panda update but they were not discussed thoroughly by Google and didn't seem to be very significant. time time and were done were also created in order to achieve separately from the richer and better search results. main index. 10-PACK OF UPDATES November 14, 2011 FRESHNESS UPDATE November 3, 2011 In an attempt to be a little more transparent, Matt Cutts posted a list with 10 recent updates. Most of them were some small changes and the timeline November, In announced a new algorithm change that was going to reward freshness and would impact 25% of the queries. The update was focused mainly on recent content. Google 8t GOOGLE + June 28, 2011 Google launched their own social media that poses a serious threat to Facebook. They implemented their network in various Google products like Gmail and others. In just two weeks, 10 million users signed up for Google +. was unclear. PANDA 2.3 July 23, 2011 According to some web- Google made masters, another update to Panda but it was very unclear whether there were any PANDA 3.1 November 18, 2011 actual changes made or just the existing ranking and data factors were updated. QUERY ENCRYPTION PANDA 2.4 August 12, 2011 October 18, 2011 After the Panda 2.5 update, came the time of the "Panda Flux" period where more updates were made but the changes Google search queries encrypted for privacy reasons which had a nega- tive impact on the organic keyword referral data. announced that In August, Panda was released except from Korean, Japa- nese and Chinese queries. It was reported that this had effect on about 6-9% will be intemationally EXPANDED SITELINKS August 16, 2011 were minor. There were The expanded site-links was rolled out mostly for brand queries after Google experimented for a while. Soon, the original 12-packs were limited to only 6. no official 3.0 update but some analysts called this one the 3.1. of queries in the countries that were affected. PANDA "FLUX" October 5, 2011 PAGINATION ELEMENTS Matt Cutts tweeted that some "Panda-re lated flux" should be expected and the figure he gave was "-2%" September 15, 2011 O. In order to deal with the dupli- cation and crawl problems causes by pagination, Google introduced two link attributes - rel="prev" and re="next". The automatic canonicalization and consolidation for "View All" pages were also improved. PANDA 2.5 516 UPDATES September 28, 2011 September 21, 2011 There were a new Panda September, wasn't very clear what the changes are. How- The CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, stated that 516 updates were made in 2010. This is not an update but it's a bit surprising, especially knowing that they tested more than 13,000 updates. update in DECEMBER 10-PACK but it December 1, 2011 A second pack of 10 updates was announced in December. Some of these ever reported huge losses. some sites SEARCH + YOUR WORLD January 10, 2012 updates included detec- tion of parked domains, blog and image search freshness and more. The A huge change in terms of personalization was announced by Google. They are incorporating users profiles and a lot of social data into the SERPS. dates updates were unclear. exacts of the 2012 There is also a button that will help you turn off personalization don't need it. if you Reaello ADS ABOVE THE FOLD January 19, 2012 JANUARY 30-PACK The page layout is now even more impor- tant as the new update devalues websites with too many ads on top or "above the fold". There were speculations that the Panda update was doing a similar thing. This update has no official name yet. January 5, 2012 30 changes were announced by Google over the past month. Some of the changes included more rich snippets, relevant site-links and other improvements. Infographic/illustration: Martina Seefeld [email protected] february 2012 TO BE CONTINUED...

Google Algorithm Changes 1998-2012

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In the early months of 1998, a great innovation came out to change the way we browse through Internet – the launch of the Google Search Engine. Not many were expecting that the application will achi...




Martina Seefeld


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