Google representatives have told us time and time again that they are making multiple updates to their algorithms on a daily basis, but there are definitely some that shake up the SERPs more than others.
Here, we’ve compiled a reverse chronological list of major Google algorithm updates and the impacts they might have on your SEO strategy.
Please realize that we’re a small company and may not have the time to adequately cover all algorithm updates. Here are some other resources we recommend that provide detailed information on Google algorithm changes and updates.
- Moz: Google Algorithm Change History
- Search Engine Journal: History of Google Algorithm Updates
- Marie Haynes: Google Algo Updates and More
9/26/2018: Medic Rollback
We noticed several YMYL sites experience recoveries after seeing significant drops in rankings and traffic after the Medic Update.
Here’s a snapshot of the traffic trend one client experienced following the Medic update and the sebsequent roll-back.
More on the Medic Rollback update here.
8/1/2018: Medic Update
Dubbed the Medic Updated due to its impacts in the health and wellness niches, this August 1 algorithm change had significant impacts on what Google has dubbed YMYL (Your Money or Your Life).
According to Google’s Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines, YMYL sites include:
- Shopping or financial transaction pages: webpages that allow users to make purchases, transfer money, pay bills, etc. online (such as online stores and online banking pages).
- Financial information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, paying for college, buying insurance, etc.
- Medical information pages: webpages that provide advice or information about health, drugs, specific diseases or conditions, mental health, nutrition, etc.
- Legal information pages: webpages that provide legal advice or information on topics such as divorce, child custody, creating a will, becoming a citizen, etc.
- News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry: webpages that include information about local/state/national government processes, policies, people, and laws; disaster response services; government programs and social services; news about important topics such as international events, business, politics, science, and technology; etc. Please use your judgment and knowledge of your locale. Keep in mind that not all news articles are necessarily considered YMYL.
- Other: there are many other topics that you may consider YMYL, such as child adoption, car safety information, etc. Please use your judgment.
Industry experts are pointing to excerpts from Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines citing E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust) as of significant importance in these niches.
More on the Medic update here.
3/7/2018: Brackets Update
This update, confirmed by Google as a “Core Algorithm Update” but unnamed, seems to have targeted sites with low quality content. John Mueller stressed in a Webmaster Hangouts video the desire from Google for website to improve “significantly and over the long-term.” E-A-T is often referenced in the industry as a tactic to recover from this update over the long run.
More on the Brackets update here.
3/7/2019: Fred Update
This update rolled out over several weeks and was jokingly named “Fred” by a Google Rep in an effort to downplay its’ significance.
Read more about the Fred update here.
10/26/2015: RankBrain Update
RankBrain was a significant update to Google’s algorithm that relies heavily on artificial intelligence and machine learning. It seems to weight some of the following metrics more heavily in Google’s ranking algorithms.
- Click Through Rate
- Dwell Time
- Bounce Rate
Basically, RankBrain is allowing Google to go beyond keywords and anchor text and evaluate how users are interacting with your website and content.
More on the RankBrain update here.
Mid-2013: Hummingbird Update
Hummingbird was the first ever rebuild of Google’s core algorithm. It had major effects on organic search results and the future of SEO.
As Danny Sullivan described it for Search Engine Journal,
“Hummingbird is the overall search algorithm, just like a car has an overall engine in it. The engine itself may be made up of various parts, such as an oil filter, a fuel pump, a radiator and so on.”
More on Google’s Hummingbird update here.