The Evolution of Google Algorithms since 1998With the new changes expected in the algorithms of the Google search engine, it’s rather instructive to look back and see the history of these changes since Google first hit the scene in 1998. By understanding where Google has been, we can see how this ever-growing company is aiming towards the elimination of irrelevant, though it still is a persistent problem and promoting social media in their SEO accountability.
What follows are the highlights to what Google have done for 18 years as we stand on the precipice of new change. In looking over the history, it’s clear that this evolution has gone in fits and spurts but it also has been driving towards specific goals.
Google search engine was created in 1998Google launched its search engine in March of this year.
Page Rank system algorithm 2000In September, Google made its first significant change to their PageRank system, although the specifics of what they did were not very clear.
The Google Dance 20032003: In February, Google announced at the SES Boston that they were using algorithm combinations to refresh their monthly index which some people coined as “The Google Dance”. In April, the “Cassandra” update helped to eliminate hidden links and hidden texts from being counted. By May, the “Dominic” update changed how back-links were counted. The “Google Dance” ended in July with the index being updated on a daily basis. In November, Google made major progress against keyword stuffing in their “Florida” update.
Austin, Brandy and LSI updates 20042004: Google started the year in January with the “Austin” update which may have included updates to their algorithms. They did continue their assault on On-Page tactics like keyword stuffing and invisible text. The next month the “Brandy” update added Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) which changed keyword analysis.
Nofollow attributes and Sitemaps 20052005: Again in January, Google agreed with Microsoft and Yahoo with “nofollow” link attribution to clean out spam. In June, HTML sitemaps change with XML sitemaps which gave SEO the ability to influence indexation and crawling. From the end of 2005 until 2009 there were no major changes, although there were some significant developments in how Google algorithms changes subtly over this time period.
Vincent algorithm 20092009: February marked the arrival of the “Vincent” update which seemed to favor big brand websites, though this was denied. In August, Google previewed the massive changes to their infrastructure and in December Google News, Twitter and other feeds were integrated into the system.
Ecommerce reviews 20102010: In December, an e-commerce site was reviewed to have search rankings based on negative reviews. This altered the algorithms in this area. Social media sites gained even more prominence as well.
In this negative seo was born. I have fighting with this issue since then.
Panda Farmer and G+ launched 20112011: In February, a huge update with the arrival of Panda Farmer in Google algorithms occurred which affected over 10% of search results, this update hit Europe in April with similar effects. By March, Google had placed their “+1” button which helped influence both organic and paid search results, this was a direct response to Facebook and Twitter. Panda was in turn updated through the year, but in June Google launched their own social media which accumulated over 10 million users in just two weeks.
Search + your world and implementing of social data into Serp 20122012: Search + Your World was launched in January, incorporating user profiles and social data into SERP.
Google Algorithms in 2013
Google Penguin 2.0Google Algorithm in 2013 This is the next generation of the Penguin algorithm
HummingbirdHummingbird algorithm: It focuses on parsing searches as complex questions. It works like Facebook graph search and replies to ambiguous queries such as what is my friends' favorite restaurant.
Penguin Update 5 October 04, 2013 Penguin 2.1 (Penguin 5th edition) was released in Google's continuing battle against web spam. We see a corresponding spike in the Rank Risk Index on October 5th.
Undisclosed Activity November 15, 2013 There are a lot of chatter in the various webmaster and SEO forums and blogs about SERP changes, but no official announcement from Google.
Authorship Rich Snippet Update December 18, 2013 In what may be the most dramatic Google update of 2013, Authorship & Rich Snippet results dropped as much as 15% as Google tightened the qualifications for rich snippets. Authors reported problems and were advised to refer to Google's rel="author" FAQs to ensure they're following the rules.
Top Heavy 3 Update in 2014February 06, 2014 Google's Page Layout Algorithm targets pages with disproportionate number of ads above the fold in relation to page content. Google's Matt Cutts confirmed this algorithm refresh in a Tweet. Page Layout Algorithm's goal is to make users' search experience more efficient and quick, enabling them to reach the content they're seeking.
Undisclosed ActivityMarch 24, 2014 Webmaster and SEO forum rumors of a Soft Panda update around March 24th match up with the red zone dates displaying in our Rank Risk Index, however, no official announcement has been made by Google.
Algorithm Activity - UndisclosedApril 18, 2014 The Rank Risk Index has been indicating volatile activity by Google for much of April. Lots of chatter in the various webmaster and SEO forums and blogs about dramatic SERP changes, but no official announcement from Google.
Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0May 18, 2014 Google announced the release of an update to their Spam Algorithm that targets the type of queries that return an excessive number of spammy results. This specific update was an international roll out that is reported to affect different languages to different degrees and noticeably impacts English queries by about 0.2%. Matt Cutts Tweeted: "This past weekend we started rolling out a ranking update for very spammy queries." Search Engine Watch reported "Over the weekend we began rolling out a new algorithmic update," a Google spokesperson told SEW. "The update was neither Panda nor Penguin – it was the next generation of an algorithm that originally rolled out last summer for very spammy queries."
Panda 4.0May 20, 2014 Our Rank Risk Index has been showing sharp fluctuations in recent weeks causing lots of chatter in SEO and webmaster forums. By mid-May we started to see a relative calm, but suddenly the red alert went up again and shortly after that Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that Google had launched Panda 4.0 and plans to be rolling out more updates. The goal of Panda has been to penalize poor content quality and scraper sites, while boosting sites with great content up in the SERPs and thereby providing Google users with high quality results. Google's Matt Cutts announced Panda 4.0 on Twitter.
Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0June 12, 2014 Google rolled out an update to their PayDay Loan Spam Algorithm. Version 3.0 targets the queries for 'payday loans', 'casinos', 'accident claims' and a variety of others that return an excessive number of web spam results. Google's Matt Cutts announced this algorithm update on Twitter.
Google Local Algorithm UpdateJuly 24, 2014 Google launched an update to their local search algorithm to help them provide more accurate and relevant local search results. The chat in the Webmaster World Local Search Forum suggests that the update was causing inconsistent results, with "major flux" still occurring a week after the rollout. Small Business Trends provides an analysis of how this update affects local businesses.
September 20, 2014
A new Panda algorithm is rolled out. Matt Cuts confirmed in a message on G+ about this update. Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, Google's engineers have been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher.Depending on the locale, around 3-5% of queries are affected.
Google Algorithm Update: mobile friendlinessApril 21, 2015 The algorithm scans each page on the site, checking for load times, responsive design elements, and mobile best practice. For now searches on tablets won’t be affected.
Google Algorithm Refresh Panda 4.2July 21, 2015
RankBrainOctober 25, 2015
RankBrain is the first system within Google’s search algorithm to employ machine learning to process huge volumes of search queries submitted to Google, including voice search. It attempts to understand what those queries mean and use that understanding to provide better answers.
Read more about GoogleBrain and GoogleRankBrain
User intent is key focus within algorithm changes in 2016
Google Algorithms in 2017 will be published upon new updates.
to be continued...
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