It seems like once Google started rolling out SEO updates, there hasn’t been much time for SEO specialists to sit back with their hands folded. And so at Smart Street Media we decided to simplify and visualize these updates for the SEO enthusiast.
The first documented update was in fall of 2002 and is the most mysterious update of them all. Not much is known about it but there was more to the update than the usual Google Dance and PageRank updates.
The Big Daddy update in December of 2005 affected a website’s ranking by weighing the value of a site’s outbound and inbound links. Many websites started disappearing from the search index as a result of, “excessive reciprocal links, linking to spammy neighborhoods on the web, or link buying/selling,” says Matt Cutts, a senior software engineer at Google.
In 2007, the Universal Search update integrated New, Video, Images, Local and other verticals to broaden the search function. Google’s then Vice President of search products and user experience, Marissa Mayer, stated, “We’re so excited about taking all these different silos of information and making them all into one.”
The Caffeine update, designed specifically for coffee lovers (not exactly, but we like to think so), was designed to speed up crawling, expand the index, and integrate indexation and ranking.
Four months later, in December of 2010, Google and Bing addressed the rising popularity of social media, and released the Social Signals update. The update meant that the search engines would take into consideration social signals in determining ranking, from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
In February of 2011, Google rolled out its first update in a series named Panda. The first update, also called Farmer, was meant to crack down on websites with high ad-to-content ratios, low-quality content, on-site over optimization, and content farms.
Search + Your World
Google is a big fan of Google+ and decided to roll out an update that would show a user’s past Google+ posts and photos. The Search + Your World update was the first major step toward personalization.
One month later, in February of 2012, Google introduced its Venice update to show organic local results in search queries.
Hummingbird was introduced on August 20, 2013 to improve Google’s interpretation of search requests. This update did not have any associated major penalties.
Local search results were seriously affected by an update introduced on July of 2014. The Pigeon update was the first in a series that affected how Google interprets location cues.
With a rise in searches coming from mobile devices, Google took note and announced its “Mobilegeddon” mobile update on April 21, 2015 that would favor mobile-friendly sites in SERPs.
In October of 2015, Google announced RankBrain as the 3rd most influential ranking factor- however there were no major changes in ranking factors. The update was an algorithm that functions on Artificial Intelligence learning.
SEO specialists were faced with quite a few unnamed updates in 2016. With so many major and minor changes to ranking factors being introduced officially and “under the radar” it is imperative for webmasters to stay abreast of these changes.