Google Algorithm Updates History
Explore the history of Google algorithm updates (confirmed changes by GSC to Google’s ranking system). So you can gain a better understanding of Search Engine Optimization and can build your own SEO strategy.
History of Google Algorithm Updates (Monthly)
I have added resources for SEO professionals who want to understand these updates throughly.
February 2023 Product Reviews Update
Google announced the launch of the February 2023 Product Reviews Update, which began on February 21 and was completed on March 18. The update applies to these languages globally: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish. See the Google Search Central Blog to learn more about the product review system.
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Spam updates are designed to make Google better at identifying spammy content and practices. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Cloaking: Presenting different content to Google and users
- Keyword stuffing: Unnaturally forcing keywords into content
- Scraping content: Plagiarizing content from other sites
Sites that violate Google’s spam policies may receive a Google penalty. This harms the site’s visibility in search results. Google released spam updates in June 2021, November 2021, and October 2022.
Prior to this naming convention, Google also released the following web spam updates:
- Florida (2003)
- Jagger (2005)
- Panda (2011)
- Penguin (2012)
Learn more about spam updates on Google Search Central.
Tip: Review your content with Semrush’s On Page SEO Checker. It provides optimization ideas and flags any issues with keyword stuffing.
Reviews and Product Reviews Updates
In April 2023, Google released a reviews update that affected reviews about products, services, and things.
The goal was to reward original, well-researched product reviews that help people make decisions.
Best practices include evaluating from the user’s perspective, providing evidence of experience with the review subject, and explaining what sets something apart from its competitors.
Previously, reviews updates were product reviews updates. Released in April 2021, December 2021, March 2022, July 2022, September 2022, and February 2023.
Learn more about these SEO updates on Google Search Central.
Helpful Content Updates
Helpful content updates are “notable” refinements to Google’s helpful content system. This system aims to reward sites that deliver a great experience and leave users feeling satisfied.
Google recommends that sites create original, reliable content for people—not search engines. But confirms that SEO “can be a helpful activity.”
Google released helpful content updates in December 2022 and August 2022.
Find out how to create quality content with our guide.
Tip: Use Semrush’s Topic Research tool to develop content ideas that your audience will find helpful. You can find commonly searched questions, popular headlines, and more.
Page Experience Updates
Google released the page experience update for mobile in June 2021. And a page experience update for desktop in February 2022.
The Page Layout Algorithm Improvement Update (2012), Mobile-Friendly Update (2015), and Speed Update (2018) also related to page experience.
These kinds of Google updates aimed to reward pages that deliver a great user experience. For example, pages that are fast, secure, and mobile-friendly.
Tip: Semrush’s Site Audit tool helps you identify, prioritize, and fix technical issues on your site. Many of which relate to page experience.
Other Notable Google Updates
These Google algorithm updates don’t fit into the categories above. But they played an important role in Google’s evolution.
- Boston (2003): The first named Google algorithm update
- Fritz (2003): Google switched from monthly to incremental index updates
- Vince (2009): Rewarded trustworthy, authoritative sites
- Mayday (2010): Improved results for long-tail keywords in particular
- Caffeine (2010): Made Google quicker at finding and indexing new content
- Hummingbird (2013): Improved Google’s understanding of conversational queries
- RankBrain (2015): Improved Google’s ability to understand new queries in particular
- Diversity (2019): Made it rarer to see multiple results from the same domain
- November 2019 Local Search Update: Improved business results for local searchers
- BERT (2019): Improved Google’s understanding of natural language queries
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