10 Google Algorithm Updates That Changed SEO Forever

Over the past decade, Google has made some of the most significant changes to its algorithm with far-reaching consequences. While some updates were welcomed by webmasters and SEOs, others caused major disruption and sent shockwaves through the industry.

In this article, we'll take a look at 10 of the most significant Google algorithm updates of the past 10 years and what effect they had on the landscape of search engine optimization.


Google Panda (2011)

When Google first released the Panda update in 2011, it was a game-changer for the SEO world. Prior to Panda, low-quality content and thin sites could easily rank high in Google's search results. This made it difficult for users to find the quality information they were looking for.

Panda changed all of that by penalizing sites with poor quality content. This meant that those sites would no longer show up as prominently in search results. As a result, users were more likely to find the quality information they were looking for.

The Panda update was significant because it forced companies to invest in creating high-quality content. Prior to Panda, many companies had been able to get away with skimping on content quality. But after Panda, that was no longer an option. Companies had to invest in quality content if they wanted to rank well in Google's search results.

Panda also had a major impact on the SEO industry. Prior to Panda, many SEOs focused on using shady tactics to artificially boost their client's rankings. But after Panda, those tactics became much less effective. This forced SEOs to focus on more legitimate methods of improving their client's ranking.

Overall, the Google Panda update was a very significant event for both the SEO industry and the internet as a whole. It changed the way that companies approached creating content and it forced them to invest in quality over quantity.


Google Penguin (2012)

The Google Penguin update was significant because it marked a major change in the way that Google ranked websites. Prior to Penguin, Google used a variety of factors to determine which websites should be ranked higher than others. However, after Penguin was implemented, Google began using link quality as the primary factor in its ranking algorithm.

This meant that websites with a lot of low-quality or spammy links were no longer able to rank as highly as they had in the past. As a result, the Penguin update had a major impact on the search engine results pages (SERPs), and many website owners saw their rankings drop significantly.


Google Hummingbird (2013)

The Google Hummingbird update was significant because it changed the way that Google interprets search queries. Prior to Hummingbird, Google focused on individual keywords in a query. However, with Hummingbird, Google began to focus on the meaning of the entire query, not just individual keywords.

This change has made it easier for Google to understand the user's intent behind a search query and provide more relevant results. In addition, Hummingbird has also helped Google to better understand the relationships between concepts and entities, which has led to improved search results.


Google Pigeon (2014)

The Google Pigeon update was a significant change to the search algorithm that affected local search results. Prior to the update, local results were based primarily on the location of the searcher. The Pigeon update changed that, and now results are based on the location of the business being searched for. This means that businesses in geographically-distant areas may now appear in local search results, which can be beneficial for both consumers and businesses alike. According to Safari Brisbane SEO pros, the Google Pigeon update completely revolutionised the way that local SEO operated.


Google Mobile-Friendly Update (2015)

Google's mobile-friendly update, also known as "Mobilegeddon," was released in 2015 and affected how mobile-friendly websites were ranked in the SERPs. This was a major change for webmasters, who now had to ensure their website was mobile-friendly or risk being buried in the search results.


Google RankBrain (2015)

RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system that helps Google understand queries that it has never seen before. This update had a major impact on SEO, as it changed the way Google interprets and ranks search results.


Google Possum (2016)

Possum was an update to Google's local search algorithm that affected how local businesses were displayed in the SERPs. The result was a major change for local SEOs, who now had to focus on optimizing for both traditional ranking factors and Possum-specific factors.


Google Fred (2017)

Fred was a major update that targeted websites that were violating Google's webmaster guidelines. The result was a significant shakeup of the SERPs, with many sites losing traffic overnight.


Google Medic (2018)

Medic is an update to Google's algorithm that affected how medical-related websites were ranked in the SERPs. The result was a major change for health-related businesses and websites, which now had to focus on optimizing their content and website for better visibility in Google's search results.


Google Core Update (2019)

The most recent update on our list is the Google core update, which was released in 2019. This update affected a wide range of websites and businesses, with many seeing significant changes in their traffic and rankings.



These are just 10 of the major updates that Google has made over the past decade. While some of these updates were well-received, others caused major disruption and sent shockwaves through the industry. However, one thing is certain: Google's algorithm is always evolving, and SEOs need to be prepared for whatever changes Google makes next.