Top 10 Google Algorithm Updates in Recent Years

Google algorithm updates

Google is known to update its search algorithm a lot of times in a year. Most of the Google algorithm updates do not come to notice easily. But, with every search algorithm update, Google introduces a new change that disrupts our SEO process in some way or another. However, sometimes Google announces if there are any ‘core updates’ so that the websites can get a chance to prepare and optimize as per the requirements. 

What is Google Algorithm?

Google Algorithm is known to work in a very complex process for answering user queries in the best possible way. Every new update in Google Algorithm comes with its own set of rules and combines data from its index for determining the web pages that answer the queries in the best possible way. Google then uses its programmed ranking signals to provide ranks to those websites in the search engine result pages according to their relevance. 

Here in this blog, we are going to share with you the details of the top 10 Google Algorithm updates in recent years. 

Top Google Algorithm Updates in Recent Years

Let us look into the best updates of the Google Algorithm in recent years. We are going to discuss why these updates were introduced, and how they operate. 


Date – 24 February 2011

How it operates – This update of the Google Algorithm named ‘Panda’ is operated by assigning a quality score to the domain pages. The quality score is then used for the ranking purpose. During its initial stage, Panda’s effects were mild. Later, it was permanently placed into Google’s core algorithm in 2016. After the incorporation of Panda as a core algorithm, update rollouts evolved to become more common. On today’s date, the recoveries and penalties of this Google Algorithm are very quick.  

Issues – Plagiarised or copied content, duplicate, user-generated spam, keyword stuffing. 

Impact on SEO – Panda made a lot of SEO communities change their tactics and strategies. Black hat SEO strategies such as keyword stuffing were not able to perform properly. Moreover, SEO was to be adjusted in a way that content had an impact on readers and answered search box queries in the best way. 


Date – 24 April 2012

How it operates – The main objective behind the introduction of this Google Algorithm update is to provide low ranks to the websites which include backlinks that appear to be unnatural. The Penguin update has put a full stop to minimal effort link-buildings including purchasing links from link farms and PBNs. 

Issues – Irrelevant or spam links, links that include over-optimized anchor text. 

Impact on SEO – Like the Panda update, even Penguin targeted black hat SEO strategies. It did not allow manipulative link-building techniques to work properly. The backlink profiles included a high volume of low-quality links which led to a decrease in their organic traffic. 


Date – 22 August 2013 

How it operates – This update of the Google Algorithm enables the search engine to analyze search queries in a better way and provide accurate results that the searcher is exactly looking for. Keywords continue to play a key role with this algorithm, but it makes it possible for a domain page to achieve a rank for a search query even when it does not include the exact word or phrase that the searcher has entered in the search box. 

Issues – Keyword stuffing, low-quality content

Impact on SEO – The Hummingbird Google Algorithm update was the one that made it easy for the searchers to locate the most relevant domain page for their queries. This encouraged the SEO teams of the websites to research more on the search intent upon specific keywords and put their best efforts to optimize for it.  


Date – 14 July 2014 

How it operates – Pigeon is the algorithm update that focused mainly on improvising the local search. This update specifically aims to eliminate the barrier between Google’s local search algorithm and its web algorithm, enhancing the ranking of domain pages based on physical proximity.

Issues – Low-quality content, plagiarised content

Impact on SEO – The Pigeon update left a great impact on the SEO community. This update of the Google Algorithm enabled small businesses to easily connect with the local audience. Also, this update led to the contextualization of small businesses in their local context, and following various local SEO practices. 


Date – 21 April 2015

How it operates – This was the latest Google algorithm update that shifted the focus from a desktop version of a website to a mobile version. In this era of smartphones, Google provides rankings to websites based on how user-friendly their mobile versions are and their speed. 

Issues – Lack of a mobile version of domain pages, very poor mobile or smartphone usability

Impact on SEO – This update turned mobile-friendliness to evolve as a new ranking factor for the websites. Websites that provide mobile-friendly versions of their web pages are prioritized by Google when it comes to better ranking on the search engine. 


Date – 26 October 2015

How it operates – This update introduced in 2015 is a part of the Hummingbird algorithm. We can simply define it as a machine-learning system that enables Google to understand the exact meaning of the search queries and provide relevant results to the searcher. 

According to Google, RankBrain ranks as the third most important factor when it comes to the ranking of search engine result pages. It is the Google Algorithm update that is responsible for the customization of the search results. 

Issues – Poor UX, no query-specific relevance, shallow content

Impact on SEO – It is due to RankBrain that now different ranking signals apply to various search queries. It also customizes the search results according to the user’s requirements.


Date – 4 May 2018

How it operates – This latest Google Algorithm update disproportionately impacts medical domains along with other websites that have to perform potentially life-altering decisions. There are also some hints regarding the fact that the Medic update has placed some of the E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) signals from the Quality Rater Guidelines document. 

Issues – Lack of authority on YMYL domains, poor E-A-T signals

Impact on SEO – A lot of factors influence E-A-T. When you implement this update, search engine results pages (SERPs) will push down your website pages if your domain has very few reviews and backlinks, thin content, improper updates, or lacks comprehensive profiles of the business and content authors. In contrast, links that meet more criteria from the checklist will be prioritized.


Date – 22 October 2019

How it operates – This is the type of algorithm update that applies natural language processing technology to understand search queries in a better way, interpret text, and figure out entities and connections between entities. The previous algorithms of Google respectively Panda, RankBrain, and Hummingbird all had a similar feature – all of them did not focus on keywords. An interesting fact about the latest Google algorithm update is that it culminates all the efforts altogether. 

Issues – Weak content, less focus, lack of context

Impact on SEO – The best thing about Bert is that it changes the way of content writing. It makes specific keywords less essential and the natural language related to respective keywords turns out to be more important. 

Core Updates

Date – 2017 to present times

How it operates – Since 2017, Google has started using the term ‘core updates’ for bigger updates. Due to this, transparency about what these updates bring in and which parts of SEO they are trying to improve is decreasing. Viewers can perceive these core updates as improvements over previously introduced updates or as the consolidation of numerous smaller updates.

Featured Snippets 

Date – January 2020

The latest Google algorithm update operates by duplicating URLs from the result pages that include featured snippets.

Impact on SEO – This type of Google Algorithm update describes that fewer clicks go to the featured snippet instead of going to the first standard organic listing. 



The way we perform SEO today is a bit different from how things were done 5-6 years before. Google’s search engine changes from time to time and it is important for businesses to be updated about all the latest changes. We have provided information regarding the top 10 Google Algorithm updates over these few years. Hope this will help you to boost your search results.