Google’s Changing Algorithmns Over The Years

Dates of Major Google Algorithm Changes

The online community Reddit is a good way to while away time watching cat videos, more importantly the community offers a platform where SEO’s can chat and solve each other’s website issues. I’ve used a subreddit post and added extra information about the way Google has evolved over the years.

Panda – February 2011

Goal: De-rank sites with low-quality content


  • Duplicate content
  • Plagiarism
  • Thin content
  • User-generated spam
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Poor user experience

Penguin – April 2012

Goal: De-rank sites with spammy, manipulative link profiles


  • Links coming from poor quality, “spammy” sites
  • Links coming from sites created purely for SEO link building (PBNs)
  • Links coming from topically irrelevant sites
  • Paid links
  • Links with overly optimized anchor text

Pirate – August 2012

Goal: De-rank sites with copyright infringement reports


  • Pirated content
  • High volume of copyright infringement reports

Hummingbird – September 2013

Goal: Produce more relevant search results by better understanding the meaning behind queries


  • Exact-match keyword targeting
  • Keyword stuffing

Pigeon – January 2015

Goal: Provide high quality, relevant local search results


  • Poorly optimized pages
  • Improper setup of a Google My Business page
  • NAP inconsistency
  • Lack of citations in local directories (if relevant)

Mobile Friendly Update (Mobilegeddon) – April 2015

Goal: Give mobile-friendly pages a ranking boost in mobile SERPs, and de-rank pages that aren’t optimized for mobile


  • Lack of a mobile version of the page
  • Improper viewport configuration
  • Illegible content
  • Plugin use

RankBrain – October 2015

Goal: Deliver better search results based on relevance & machine learning


  • Lack of query-specific relevance features
  • Poor user experience

Possum – September 2016

Goal: Deliver better, more diverse results based on the searcher’s location and the business’ address


  • Sharing a physical address with a similar business
  • Competitors whose business address is closer to the searcher’s location

Fred – March 2017

Goal: Filter out low quality search results whose sole purpose is generating ad and affiliate revenue


  • Low-value, ad-centered content
  • Thin, affiliate-heavy content

The Google Fred Update which we first spotted rolling out early morning on March 8th, 2017 seems to be fairly big. After reviewing well over 70 sites that were hit by this update, 95% of them share two things in common. The sites all seem content driven, either blog formats or other content like sites and they all are pretty heavy on their ad placement. In fact, if I dare say, it looks like many (not all but many) of them were created with the sole purpose of generating AdSense or other ad income without necessarily benefiting the user.

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    Sales and Marketing experience since 1999, specific SEO skills since 2004. Owner of SEO Lady Ltd providing Internet Marketing to companies in UK and internationally in a broad range of industries. Small Business Specialist, onthly eCommerce digital marketing, and Search Engine Optimisation one-off projects such as domain migration or how to retain Google rankings when a complete website redesign is in the planning stage.

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