A Brief History of Google’s Algorithm Updates

The methods that we use for SEO are far different today from the way that they were done ten years ago. One of the most important reasons that search engines regularly change their algorithms is to make sure that searchers will have access to the best possible results. Over the course of the last decade, Google has become the leading search engine. With a series of updates to algorithms the company has worked to change the way that users access search and find results. Here are some of the main ways that Google’s search engine has changed dramatically.


Google Panda was the standard during this time and this is considered the modern era of SEO.  When Google introduced Panda it was with the idea of de-ranking sites that had very thin content as well as affiliate pages that were designed for advertising specifically.


Venice was an update produced by Google in 2012. Venice had Google’s researchers introduce location-based searching. Based off of your IP address you could receive targeted search results in this update. Venice introduced the chance to start targeting geo-locations.

Later in 2012 Penguin was introduced which started the process of placing emphasis on link building. Google started to assign negative values to sites that were over generating links from low authority pages.

Pirate was also introduced in 2012 which prevented the spread of copy-writed material. Plagiarized content began to see a negative ranking factor as well.


Hummingbird was introduced in 2013 and it laid the groundwork for voice search. Improvements to search queries and optimizations for smartphone devices occurred this year.


Pigeon was introduced this year which improved localization for search engine results which lead to the maximization of local SEO.

SSL and HTTPS was also introduced to the site in 2014 which improved security across-the-board.


This was the year of mobile in which Google began prioritizing search engine results that were compatible with mobile devices.

Rankbrain was also put into use this year which introduced ranking signals for pages for their writing quality. Analyzing past searches of users and analyzing content introduced better search engine rankings for users that were seeking like-minded content and a better quality of content.


Possum was an update that changed the phrasing of search queries. This update made businesses that were doing well in organic search engine results appear above other queries.


2018 introduced speed as a ranking factor for desktop and mobile searches. The algorithm introduced improvements to rankings for sites that were well optimized for their speed.


BERT was introduced as a representational algorithm that used natural language processing. BERT not only searched for keywords but it could determine the context of relations of all words in a sentence. This lead to better interpretation for voice data and snippets.

As you can see, Google algorithms have changed significantly over the years. The future for algorithms is set to change as well. With revolutionary changes that are being made in algorithms each year it’s important to coordinate with SEO professionals to revisit the standards for optimization that affect your webpage on a semiannual basis.

This post was written by Kristian D’An. Kristian is the owner and SEO Specialist at Lux Digital Marketing, a search engine optimization company. Kristian has been optimizing websites successfully for over 7 years. He has helped his clients achieve the #1 position on Google in several different industries.  

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