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The History of Google’s Main Algorithm Updates

Google’s dominance in the search engine market is no accident. They excel at adapting to the ever-shifting trends of the Internet. They’re unafraid to discard months of work if it means enhancing their system in the long term.

The algorithm responsible for determining search result rankings, a crucial ingredient in Google’s success, has undergone significant transformations over time. This is vital knowledge for experts, especially those in SEO, whose primary task is to boost their clients’ rankings. They usually revise their knowledge by keeping up with updated search engine policies, listening to google podcast, and reading blogs by industry professionals. It’s also crucial for them to stay abreast of industry news and attend conferences to stay in the loop about the latest developments.

Although Google makes frequent changes and everyone is accustomed to adapting, taking a retrospective view of its evolution is both intriguing and insightful, especially for those keenly interested in the world of modern technology.


In 2011, Google responded to the rising trend of spammy sites producing low-effort content in an attempt to get ranked highly in the search engine’s results. The Panda update was somewhat controversial among webmasters and content producers, as some saw it as too punishing. However, the long-term results seem to be positive.


The Penguin update in 2012 not dissimilar to its predecessor, Panda, but it also specifically targeted sites that manipulated their link organization. This was a more complex issue to tackle, but it arguably brought significantly better results to the table and made things fairer for legitimate content producers. Around that time, Google also started to pay much more attention to the issue of spam in their search results as a whole, launching a number of smaller updates that collectively reorganized the playing field.


Around 2015, Google really started to focus on using machine learning, and AI became a much more prevalent driving force behind the evolution of their search engine. The RankBrain update was intended to allow Google to “understand” search queries better and deliver more appropriate results. Some users complained about the effects of the update, but it doesn’t seem to have impacted anyone’s searching experience negatively in any measurable ways. Companies like Click Intelligence have adapted to these changes quite well, while others have fallen behind by relying on traditional analytical techniques.


The most recent major update (that we know about) was launched in early 2017 and was once again targeting spammers and low-effort content producers. Some speculate that this was the result of growing attention towards Google News from spammers and sites focused on generating ad revenue, but of course, due to Google’s traditional secrecy, it’s hard to know what exactly prompted this update. Fred seems to have filtered out many sites that mainly focused on promoting content for affiliate marketing.

This is far from the full picture, as the real number of updates to Google’s search algorithms is impossible to know as the company doesn’t reveal such data publicly. However, it’s not hard to see how search results keep changing over time and how certain trends tend to get pushed to the top while others are “silenced.” Whether this is good for us as a community is hard to tell, but hopefully, Google knows what they are doing and what direction they need to push their trends in, but at least they have a lot of data to work with.