Did you know that, each year, Google changes its search algorithm between 500 and 600 times? Whilst most of these changes are minor, there will occasionally be a major update that severely affects search results. Search marketers like to stay on top of these changes to help them explain changes in ranking and traffic.
- January 22nd – Panda #24
In late January, Google announced their first change of the year – to Panda, one of their biggest updates to date. It was claimed that only 1.2% of queries were affected, so it wasn’t too major.
- May 22nd – Penguin 2.0
It was only after months of speculation that the 4th Penguin update was released. There was only a moderate impact on search results with evidence suggesting that the change was more targeted on the page level.
- June 11th – “Payday Loan”
This was a targeted update that tackled niches with notoriously spammy results (specifically payday loans and porn). Whilst this is when the change was announced, it would take a month or two to roll out.
- July 18th – Panda Recovery
Whilst Google confirmed that a change occurred around this date, they were unclear whether it was part of a 10-day rolling update or not. It actually seemed to soften some of Panda’s previous penalties.
- July 19th – Knowledge Graph Expansion
The very next day, people began to notice that queries with Knowledge Graph (KG) entries and expanded by more than half. This meant that more than a quarter of all searches showed a KG entry of some kind.
- August 6th – In-depth Articles
It was announced that Google had added a new type of news result known as ‘in-depth articles’, which is dedicated to more long-form content. To begin with, it only appeared across around 3% of searches.
- August 20th – Hummingbird
Although this update was announced on September 26th, it was suggested that it actually took place a month earlier. It has been compared to Caffiene and is believed to power changes for months to come.
- October 4th – Penguin 2.1
Due to the 2.1 designation, it is believed that this update was primarily in regards to data and didn’t comprise any major changes to the Penguin algorithm. Even so, some webmasters said they were hit hard.
Whilst there have been plenty of other updates rolled out by Google this year (a couple of unnamed ones and a few adjustments to Panda and Penguin), the ones that we have outlined above were the ones to cause noticeable differences. Who knows what the rest of the year will bring?