Every year, Google releases hundreds of updates, tweaks and changes to its search algorithm. The majority of updates are minor and fly well under the radar of everyday searchers and website owners. The major updates have undoubtedly affected your website’s rankings and site traffic. We’ve compiled a list of some of the more impacting updates over the last two years to help explain some of the traffic spikes you may have experienced.
2014 Major Algorithm Updates
Pirate 2.0 (Released Oct. 21)
In response to Google not penalizing sites enough for providing pirated material, the search engine giant released an update to combat copyright infringement.
Penguin 3.0 (Released Oct. 17)
A refreshing of Penguin that affected a small percentage of queries performed. Google claims this update was released over a few weeks, so specific results are harder to identify.
“In the News” Box (Released Oct. 1)
Google included additional sites to its news links, many of which are not traditional news sources.
Panda 4.1/#27 (Released approx. Sept. 23)
The slow rollout of Panda’s newest update made it hard to pin down a release date. The update includes a filter to penalize poor content in order to keep sites that present lower quality work from ranking well on search engine results pages.
HTTPS/SSL Update (Released Aug. 6)
Google announced that, going forward, it would give preference to sites that are secure and urged websites to include an SSL encryption.
Pigeon (Released July 24)
According to Google, the Pigeon update will improve its ranking parameters for distance and location to provide better local search results.
PayDay Loan 3.0 (Released June 12)
The third installment of this PayDay Loan algorithm update followed on the heels of the second update and focused on spammy queries.
Panda 4.0/#26 (Released May 19)
A major update to Panda, this release affected a substantial amount of queries. The update is designed to out websites that provide “thin” or poor quality content, and Panda 4.0 has changes to the algorithm itself in order to better identify these sites.
PayDay Loan 2.0 (Released May 16)
Google announced a new update that is unrelated to Penguin or Panda, the PayDay Loan 2.0. It is aimed at specific spam-filled sites.
Page Layout #3 (Released Feb. 6)
“Top heavy” sites, which load the top of a website (above the fold) with advertising, were the target of the Page Layout #3 update.
2013 Major Algorithm Updates
Penguin 2.1/#5 (Released Oct. 4)
This relatively minor update to Penguin was to improve the identification of websites that were spamming Google’s search results yet ranking well.
Hummingbird (Released Aug. 20)
Google released Hummingbird with the hopes that the search engine could return better results for queries by understanding the intention behind the search.
PayDay Loan Update (Released June 11)
The first worldwide Google update that would go head-to-head with the spammy sites that offer payday loans, male enhancement drugs and other sites that use illegal link schemes.