google algorithm updates

What’s the Difference Between Google’s Different Algorithm Updates?

If you’re up to speed with everything in the world of Google, you’ll be aware of the many different Google algorithm updates which are regularly rolled out. If you’re not too sure about what these updates are and what they mean for your online business, we’ve broken it down for you into smaller, digestible chunks.

What is a Google Update?

The best way to think about these updates is by likening them to a slap on the wrist from Grandma Google for trying to steal the nicest, most desirable fresh cookie on a plate. In technical terms, throughout every year since 2000, Google has changed its search algorithm between 500 to 600 times. The majority of these changes are relatively minor but occasionally, these updates will have a significant impact on search results; not adapting to these updates equals penalties.

These updates are particularly important for search marketers as they can offer explanations for changes in rankings and/or organic traffic to their website. Further down the line, taking note of these updates also helps to improve future optimisation. Below, we’ve detailed the differences between some of Google’s biggest and most influential updates to date.

The Different Google Algorithm Updates

The PageRank Update: Where it all started

Named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page, 2000 saw the birth of the first Google Update. PageRank was rolled out in order to rank sites according to their internet importance. In short, the more backlinks you had and the higher the quality they were, the higher you would rank on the SERP.

Although this sounds like a dream, many dodgy manipulations were then implemented such as gaining links from spammy websites and adding seemingly endless lines of keywords on one page of a site.

Google Pagerank Update


Google Panda Update

Out of all of Google’s Updates, this is possibly the most important one. Released in 2011, Google Panda’s purpose was to penalise those who churned out poor, keyword-stuffed content which held no real purpose or value for the reader. This wave hit around 12% of search results and, as of January 2016, was made a part of Google’s core ranking algorithm, making it integrated and no longer subject to testing phases.

Google Panda Update


Google Penguin Update

If you’ve ever heard the saying, “content is king”, the Google Penguin algorithm is most likely where it originated from. Announced in April 2012, Google Penguin came along to target websites who were using black-hat link schemes to manipulate their rankings. For example, site owners who were deliberately copying and pasting keywords onto white backgrounds to rank for those phrases were pretty much stopped in their tracks. After its introduction, Penguin made sure that on-site content and on-site optimisation produced nothing but relevant high-quality information.

Mary Poppings Penguin Google algorithm update


Google Pirate Update

For those of you who may have been guilty of illegal streaming in previous years (yes, you), this update will have been the bane of your life. When Google’s Pirate algorithm was rolled out in August 2012, it was specially designed to prevent streaming sites from showing up in the SERPs if searched for. Due to the violation of copyright infringements, such as the downloading of music or movies, these sites received a hefty kick in the teeth, a development praised highly by the entertainment industry and the authorities.

Google Pirate Update Flying Dutchman


Google Hummingbird Update

Although this update was rolled out in August 2013, it has become an integral core algorithm and will potentially begin to impact search marketers once again. The Hummingbird update revolves around semantic search and the ability to return better results based on context and synonymy. These factors were always taken into consideration when searching but, with Hummingbird, allowed Google to ‘understand intent’, giving long-tail keywords or suggestions more prominence. With the rise and development of voice search, Hummingbird is sure to be the helping hand search marketers need.

hummingbird update


Google Mobilegeddon Update

Created in April 2015, this update served to simply benefit mobile users and the websites optimised especially for mobile devices such as tablets, smartwatches and smartphones. This update also meant that sites with a mobile-friendly UX were given prominence over those that didn’t, increasing the importance of having a versatile website. Despite its benefits, it’s important to note that this update didn’t affect desktop or laptop results; these still remain in their own ballpark.

Mobilegeddon update google


The Unnamed Algorithm Updates

Amongst these animal-inspired updates, there have been unnamed but still relatively major updates. One of these is the Intrusive Interstitial Penalty which was introduced in August 2016, in order to crackdown on anything which may be interpreted as an unwanted, spammy advertisement. Luckily, people were given plenty of time to prepare for this update which has meant that its impact hasn’t been as detrimental as that from others. However, as time goes on it will be interesting to see whether things such as conversions rates or bounce rates are hit hard by this change.


Unamed algorithm he who must not be named


If you’re concerned that your own website may have been affected by one of Google’s many updates, why not find our more about our penalty removal services. Alternatively, why not contact us today and have a chat with a member of our expert team.

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