Hit Search Google Timeline
<div><b>Real-time Search</b> – For the first time, tweets, news websites and freshly created or updated webpages were included in results for some searches, allowing people to view the latest content being published about certain subjects, within minutes of it going live in some cases.</div>
<div><b>Google Places</b></div><div>Now a separate entity from Google Maps, Google Places (formerly called the Local Business Centre) allowed businesses to input information about themselves on their ‘own’ page (known as Place Pages), including time-sensitive offers, photos, reviews and essential business info, such as opening hours. These would appear for brand and local searches.</div>
<div><b>Caffeine</b></div><div>A significant update to the way that Google indexed content, Caffeine rolled out in the summer of 2010, increasing the speed at which new content was indexed after being published. It did not directly impact on rankings as such, but as sites could now enjoy fresh content being indexed much more quickly, it did make a difference to lots of search results utilising new or updated copy.</div>
<div><b>Google Instant</b></div><div>Taking a step on from 2008’s Google Suggest dropdown when typing a search query, Google Instant started delivering results below the search box as queries were being typed. This was expected by many to transform search, but actually had quite a small impact.</div>
<div><b>Negative Reviews</b></div><div>The first public acknowledgment by Google that people could ‘play the system’ with reviews by purposefully attracting negative reviews to their business (by delivering poor service to customers) to generate links, which was having a positive impact on rankings. This update targeted sites doing this with an algorithm change. </div>
<div><b>Panda</b></div><div>A major updated related to poor quality or thin content on websites, Panda rolled out over several months globally during 2011 and pretty much ever since, being tweaked with each new phase, and Google reported at the time that it affected 12% of all search results. Poor quality content was penalised, meaning that sites with a good amount of unique, high-quality copy were rewarded in the rankings.</div>
<div><b>Freshness Update</b></div><div>An update that Google reported would reward fresh, recently produced content and predicted to impact up to 35% of queries. This seemed to mainly focus on time-sensitive results.</div>
<div><b>Ads Above the Fold</b></div><div>Google announced they were devaluing sites in the rankings that had a large amount of ad space above the ‘fold’ (the point at which people would need to start scrolling down on a desktop PC to see the rest of the page). This encouraged many sites to replace this ad space with more useful content for site visitors and move ads to elsewhere on the page, or remove entirely.</div>
<div><b>Penguin</b></div><div>An update that fought back against black-hat SEO tactics, Penguin tightened up the algorithm when it came to spammy elements on a website (essentially, things that were not there for the benefit of the user), such as keyword stuffing. The aim was to promote high-quality sites in the rankings in the place of ‘spammy’ sites that had previously enjoyed high positions. Various new versions of Penguin have been updated, fairly regularly, ever since.</div>
<div><b>Knowledge Graph</b></div><div>Although at first it only appeared for a small number of searches, Knowledge Graph was a box of supplementary information, almost wikipedia-like, appearing within search results in response to the search query. At first only English language queries were included, but by the end of the year, this included Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and Italian queries too.</div>
<div><b>Unnatural link warnings</b></div><div>Whilst not an algorithm update as such, Google was now able to tell when a website had gained a high number of low quality links, and started warning sites via their Google Webmaster Tools account notifications. </div>
<div><b>Payday Loan</b></div><div>Dubbed the ‘Payday Loan’ update, this one targeted specific industries known for their spammy results, such as payday loans and pornography. The idea was to penalise low quality websites that may have previously experienced good rankings.</div>
<div><b>Hummingbird</b></div><div>A core algorithm update, Hummingbird was thought to be a fundamental change to the way that Google decided which results to show for queries. Apparently focusing more on searcher intent and the meaning behind the query, Hummingbird is thought to have been the basis for powering ongoing semantic search tweaks and future updates to the Knowledge Graph.</div>
<div><b>Pigeon</b></div><div>An update mainly focused on local results and how Google qualified the location cues or intent of queries. Google claim that this update tied more closely together their previously separate core algorithms and local algorithms.</div><div><br></div>
<div><b>HTTPS/SSL</b></div><div>Google announced that they would now give preference to websites that were secure, and even claimed that adding encryption to a site would give a rankings boost, although specified that this was likely to be a “lightweight” improvement. </div>
<div><b>Mobilegeddon</b></div><div>Google’s first official major mobile device-related update, Mobilegeddon focused on websites that were ‘mobile-friendly’ and promoted these in rankings for searches from mobile devices, potentially above other sites that had not worked on their mobile-friendliness at all. </div>
<div><b>RankBrain</b></div><div>Google announced that machine learning was now playing a significant role in the algorithm, in terms of how search results were processed, but this is considered to be one cog in the workings of how pages are ranked and results delivered to searchers. </div>
<div><b>Penguin 4.0</b></div><div>Many versions after the original Penguin update in 2012, this latest version, and several more tweaks to it in 2016, focused on devaluing spammy links themselves (rather than just penalising the sites these links were pointed to) and it was suggested that Penguin was now able to work on a real-time basis.</div>
<div><b>Intrusive Interstitial</b></div><div>This penalty targeted sites with aggressive pop ups and interstitials that would interfere with the user experience on mobile. Webmasters were actually pre-warned about this update several months earlier, which is unusual, but enabled businesses to make changes to their sites and avoid penalisation when the update actually rolled out.</div><div><br></div>
<div><b>Mobile-First Index</b></div><div>In testing for some time previously, this update was officially announced in March 2018. It focuses on major change for Google in the way it crawls, indexes and ranks web pages. Previously, this has always been done on the desktop version of a website. After the update, pages are now crawled, indexed and ranked according to the version that mobile users see instead – due to the majority of searchers now using mobiles over desktops or tablets. </div>
<div><b>Mobile load time</b></div><div>Google have announced that later in 2018, an update will come into effect that uses the content loading time on a mobile device as a more significant ranking factor than it currently is. </div>
<div><b>Zero organic search results</b></div><div>Earlier in 2018, Google appeared to test a certain layout of results for a limited number of queries that actually showed no organic results at all on the first page, with a button to ‘show all results’ instead. Whilst this test was quickly stopped, around the time that several high profile online marketing professionals picked up on it, it’s expected that this dramatic change to how some results are shown could be rolled out for more queries later this year.</div><div><br></div>
<div><b>Speed Update</b></div><div>Google announced that from July 2018, a mobile algorithm tweak that would target websites that ‘deliver the slowest experience to users’ would be rolling out. Page speed has long been a factor on desktop search, so this is aimed specifically at mobile searches.</div>
<div><b>HTTP not secure </b></div><div>Google announced that from summer 2018, all websites that had not moved from non-secure http to the encrypted https would be marked with a ‘not secure’ warning in the URL bar of the latest versions of the Chrome browser. Whilst not strictly an algorithm change, this could prove to be a big trust barrier for users trying to visit a website.</div>
<div><b>Pirate</b></div><div>The Pirate update, also known as the DMCA penalty, targeted sites that were repeatedly accused of breaking copyright laws</div>