List of Google updates

At CyberPublicity, Penguin and Panda are our friends!

Search engines constantly change their way of classifying results.

Here’s the chronological history of the various Google updates that have affected the web and SEO during the last few years !

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March 2017


Google announced a major update that would have an impact across the SEO network. When asked to comment on the update,  Gary Illyes jokingly referred to is as "Fred". However, he later clarified that it was not an official confirmation.

Feb. 2017

Algorithm Update

Recent industry case studies have confirmed that the Algorithm changes that took place during February 1-7, were seperate events.

Algorithm Update

Through February 1-6 there was a period of heavy algorithm flux.  It's unknown if this was due to multiple algorithm updates or a single update , however, the anecdotal evidence suggests a minimum of two updates.

Jan. 2017

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty

Google has imposed a penalty to handle aggressive interstitials and pop-ups that have the potential to damage mobile user experience. Google announced its plans five months in advance. MozCast reported high temperatures from January 10-11, however, a number of SEOs reported minimal impact on sites that were expected to have been affeted.

Dec. 2016

Google Algorithm Update

Recent Google trackers showed a large flux on December 14-15, including a reported MozCast temperature of 109°F. Google did not confirm any updates.

Nov. 2016

MozCast Update

MozCast reported a major spikes on November 10th and 18th. Some industry experts suggested that the second spike may have been a reversal of the first update. However, Google has yet to confirm anything. During the same time, some people experienced bad dates in SERP's , but it's unclear whether this was directly related to the spike or a coincidence.

Oct. 2016

Penguin 4.0, Phase 2

Google has completed the second phase of Penguin 4.0 -  the reversal of Penguin penalties. The entire process took nearly two weeks. Google confirmed that after phase two, activity had one final peak on October 6th (116°). However, there is no confirmation that this was a result of Penguin or a new update. Algorithm temperatures began to drop after October 6th.

Sept. 2016

Penguin 4.0

Google announces that after a 2 year wait, Penguin is being updated. The new algorithm is live, and after an initial assessment impacts seem rather small.

Image/Universal Drop

Mozcast shows us a record variation of the Google algorithm that drops 50% of image searches on the first page, causing a ranking change. These changes are related to an important update.

"Possum" Update

According to Google’s algorithm tracking tool, MozcCast has a large variation and drops. The SEO community notes a large variation in search results. Data confirms that this update has an important impact on organic search results.

May 2016

Mobile Friendly 2.0

A year after the original “mobile friendly” update, Google updates again to increase the algorithm's signal. Technically, this will improve the rankings of optimised sites in search results. However, because the majority of websites are “mobile friendly” the impact of this latest update is rather small.

The Google Algorithm Weather Report

According to MozCast and other assessment tools,. Google’s algorithm history of this week shows important variations, and a rise of 97 degrees. No explanations are given, as some tools haven’t detected anything. Google doesn’t confirm any updates have caused this variation.

Feb. 2016

Adwords Shake-up

Google has made major changes in Adwords. Suppressing the right column ads, and deploying a top of the page block of 4 ads on a variety of commercial searches. Although it’s a paid search update, there were important ramifications on the CTR for paid and particularly organic searches on competing keywords.

Jan. 2016

Unnamed Update

Several update tools such as Mozcast have detected a large ranking change. Google has confirmed afterwards that it’s a algorithm core update. Google has officially stated that it wasn’t a Penguin update, but details remain scarce.

Oct. 2015


Google made an important announcement, AI had been part of the algorithm for months. This is the 3rd most important ranking factor. We believe that the actual launch date had been in spring 2015.

July 2015

Panda 4.2

Google announced what was probably a Panda data update, stating that it might take months for full deployment. Immediate impact was felt, and there weren’t any signs of a major algorithm update.

May 2015

The Quality Update

Following a series of reports on large scale changes, originally called Phantom 2, Google has seen a major algorithm variation affecting quality signals. This update seems to have had an immediate impact, but Google hasn’t revealed the nature of the signals affected.

April 2015


Google recently announced an algorithm mobile friendly update took place on April 21st. It’s effects were less noticeable than predicted. Our data shows that the algorithm flux reached an inflection point on April 22nd.

Feb. 2015

SERP Update

Several webmasters have reported a major flux on Google's SERP. We suspect this is likely an e-commerce or mobile update. Google has yet to confirm the update.

Dec. 2014

Pigeon Expands to Canada, UK and Australia

Pigeon, an important Google algorithm update has been launched in Canada, UK, and Australia. The update had previously launched in the the US in July 2014.

Penguin Everflux

A Google representative has declared that Penguin has gone from a few sporadic major updates to continuous updates. Although the timescale is uncertain, this declaration seems to explain the constant flux that had followed Penguin 3.0 (including the unannounced Penguin 3.1 update).

Oct. 2014

Pirate 2.0

More than two years after the original update of the Millennium Digital Copyright Act "Pirate", Google has launched another update to combat the piracy of software and digital media. This update was very targeted, causing a dramatic drop in the ranking of a relatively small group of sites.

Penguin 3.0

More than a year after the previous update of Penguin (2.1), Google has launched a Penguin update. This update appears to have had less impact than expected (<1% of EU requests / Affected requests) and it is likely that it was data only (not a new Penguin algorithm). The timing of the update was uncertain, especially internationally, and Google said it spanned several "weeks".

Google's "In The News" Box

Google has made what looked like a change in displaying the results for the In The News box, but Google later announced that it had expanded the news links to a much broader set of potential sites. The presence of visually enriched news results in the SERPs containing the main news sites, significantly change how Internet users navigate during their search.

Sept. 2014

Panda 4.1 (#27)

Google has announced a major update Panda, which included a change to a component of the algorithm. They estimated that the impact affected between 3% and 5% of queries. Given their "slow deployment", the exact date remains uncertain.

Aug. 2014

Fall of Google Authorship

Following the abolition of author photos in search results on June 28, Google announced that authorship would be completely dropped from its criteria (it will therefore no longer be processed by the search engine). The next morning, the author line had disappeared from SERPs.


After months of speculation, Google announced that they would favour secure sites. From now on, encryption will provide a "slight" edge on the SERP. They stressed that this will begin rather discreetly, but could increase if the change proves to be positive.

July 2014


Google shook the local SEO world with an update that has dramatically changed local results, as well as how the search engine manages and interprets location signals. Google claims that Pigeon has created closer links between the local and basic algorithms.

June 2014

Author photos dropped

John Mueller made a surprise announcement on June 25. He announced that Google is dropping all author photos of on SERPs, even after having strongly promoted authorship as a connection between Google+ and the rest of the web. This process was completed around June 28.

Payday Loan 3.0

Less than one month after the Payday Loan 2.0 anti-spam update, Google launched a new major iteration. Official statements suggest that 2.0 targets specific sites, while 3.0 targets spam type queries.

May 2014

Panda 4.0

Google has confirmed a major Panda update that would probably include both an update of the algorithm and a data update. Officially, approximately 7.5% of the English queries were affected. While Matt Cutts had stated that the update started to roll out on May 20, our data strongly suggests that it started earlier.

Payday Loan 2.0

Just prior Panda 4.0, Google updated the Payday Loan Algorithm, which targets spam queries. The exact date of its implementation was not clear (Google said "last weekend", i.e. on May 20, 2014), and consecutive updates make the details difficult to untangle.

March 2014

Soft Panda update possible

The main algorithmic flow and chatter trackers from webmasters around 03/24 - 03/25 exploded, and some speculated that a "soft" Panda update had arrived. Many sites have reported changes in classification, but this update was never confirmed by Google.

Feb. 2014

Update: Layout / Top Heavy # 3

Google, "refreshed" their layout algorithm, also known as "Top Heavy". Launched in January 2012, the layout algorithm penalizes sites with too many ads above the waterline.

Dec. 2013

Authorship shake-up

As explained by Matt Cutts at Pubcon, Las Vegas, Authorship disappeared on over 15% of queries over a period of about one month. The low point was around December 19, but the figures remain volatile. They have never returned to the previous heights.

Major change in SERP flow, unconfirmed by Google.

Almost all global flow trackers recorded significant activity. Google has not confirmed an update, which suggests that they avoid updates near holidays. An increase in certain partial-Match domains (PMD) was also recorded, but the models were not clear.

Nov. 2013

DNS errors in Google Webmaster Tools

Several Google trackers picked up unusual activity. This activity occurred at the same time as Google sent DNS error reports in Google Webmaster Tools to several webmasters (the error was Google’s). Google has not confirmed the update, and so the cause and nature of the fluctuation has never been confirmed.

Oct. 2013

Penguin 2.1

After an interruption spanning four and a half months, Google launched a Penguin update. Given the 2.1 designation, it was probably (mainly) a data update, rather than a major change in the Penguin algorithm. The overall impact appeared to be moderate, although some webmasters reported being beaten over the head.

Aug. 2013


Announced on September 26, Google suggested that the "Hummingbird" upgrade was deployed about a month earlier. The best estimate was August 20, given the many peaks in flow between August 20 and 22. Hummingbird has been compared to the "Caffeine" update, and seems to be an update of the basic algorithm that can lead to changes in semantic searches and the graph of knowledge in upcoming months.

In-depth articles

Google added a new type of result called "In-depth articles", offering greater visibility for texts with longer content. When it first appeared, it included links to three articles and appeared in about 3% of searches in the USA.

July 2013

Movement on SERPs - Possible update

A major increase on SERP movement, confirmed by several major SEO players, also stretched over into the weekend. Google has not confirmed an update.

Knowledge Graph expansion

From one day to the next, queries entered in the Knowledge Graph (KG) increased by more than half (50.4%). More than a quarter of all searches show a KG entry / exit.

Panda correction

Google confirmed an update for Panda, but it was not clear if it was a rolling out 10-day update or something new. The implication was that it was only algorithmic and may have "softened" penalties in previous versions of Panda.

June 2013

Multiple week update

Matt Cutts from Google tweeted a response suggesting an update of the algorithm "over several weeks" around June 12 and the week following July 4. The nature of this update was not clear, but there was massive volatility in the charts during this time period, which peaked on June 27. It appears that Google may have conducted trials of changes that were later cancelled.

Google's Panda dance

Even though it is not a real Panda update, Matt Cutts made an important clarification at the SMX Advanced, suggesting that Panda was once again, to be updated monthly, but that each update was deployed over about 10 days. It wasn't the "Everflux" that many people had been expecting after Panda # 25.

"Payday Loan" update

Google announced an update of its algorithm to target niches with results known to be spam, more specifically in the financial  and pornography fields. The update was announced on June 11, but Matt Cutts suggested that it rolled out over a period of one or two months.

May 2013

Penguin 2.0 (#4)

After months of speculation bordering on hype, the 4th Penguin update (named "2.0" by Google) arrived with only moderate impact. The exact nature of the changes was not precise, but evidence would indicate that Penguin 2.0 has been more finely targeted at page results.

Google domain overcrowding

Google has released an update to control clutter and ensure deep diversity of domains on SERPs (pages 2 +). The time was not clearly identified, but it seems to have been rolled out just before Penguin 2.0 in the United States, and perhaps the same day, internationally.

Google's phantom update

Around May 9, there were many reports suggesting an update of the algorithm. The exact nature of this update is unknown, but many sites reported a significant loss in traffic.

March 2013

Panda #25

Matt Cutts made a pre-announcement regarding a Panda update at SMX West, and suggested that this would be the last update before Panda is integrated into the basic algorithm. The exact date has not been confirmed, but the data suggests 13/03 and 14/03.

Panda #24

Google announced its first official update for 2013, saying that 1.2% of English queries would be affected. This does not appear to be related to the update that was mentioned by some people around the January 17 or 18 (which Google has not confirmed).

Dec. 2012

Panda #23

Just before the Christmas holidays, Google deployed a Panda update. They officially called it a "refresher", affecting 1.3% of queries in English. This is a slightly greater impact than Panda #21 and #22.

Expansion of Knowledge Graph

Google added a Knowledge Graph feature for non-English queries, including Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and Italian. This update was more than "a simple translation" and added improved KG capabilities.

Nov. 2012

Panda #22

After giving off mixed signals, Google confirmed the Panda 22 update, which seems to have been launched on its own. This came on the heels of a major, but unnamed update around November 19.

Panda #21

Google deployed their 21st Panda update, and then about five and a half weeks later, Panda # 20. This update was identified as the smallest, officially affecting only 1.1% of English queries.

Oct. 2012

Google algorithm update: Page Layout / Top Heavy # 2

Google announced an update of its original algorithm (January) "Page Layout" or "Top Heavy". Pages with too many ads above the waterline are affected. We don’t know whether this was a change of the algorithm or a refresher of the Panda style data.

Penguin #3

After saying that the next Penguin update would be a major one, Google released a minor update of the Penguin data. The result impacts "0.3% of queries". Penguin is updated and the meter is running again. As with Panda, it was the 3rd version of Penguin.

Google releases 65 changes in August and September

The 65 updates for August and September include seven results for SERPs, the expansion of Knowledge Graph, an update on how to calculate the "quality of a page", and changes to how local results are determined.

Sept. 2012

Exact Match Domain (EMD) update

Google announced a change in the way it handles Exact Match Domains (EMDs). This has led to large scale devaluation, a reduction of EMD throughout, and officially affects 0.6% of the queries (by volume).

Panda #20

At the same time as the EMD update, a sizeable Panda update (algorithm + data) was deployed, officially affecting 2.4% of queries. Since the 3.X series became difficult to follow, the industry decided to start numbering the Panda updates in order. The latest one was the 20th.

Panda #19

Google launched another refresher of Panda, which seems to have been a data-only update. The flow of rankings was moderate, but not to the extent of a large scale algorithm update.

Aug. 2012

Panda 3.9.1 (no. 18)

Google launched a new Panda data update, but the impact seems to be pretty low. Since the Panda 3.0 series, it seems like there will not be a 3.9. The new update has therefore been named 3.9.1.