History of Google Algorithm Updates

The history of Google algorithm updates dates back to 2003 when the SES Boston was launched. Later, a number of updates happened of which the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates created a massive impact on SEO sphere.

google panda update

Although all search engine optimizers and webmasters need to know the history of the Google algorithms. It is particularly important for those working on a new website. Google, the search engine giant, since the year 2003 has updated the algorithms, updated the design, added new features to its existing products, and so on in a bid to raise its standard and better serve the world-wide customers.

History of Google Algorithm Updates


  • In February, the SES Boston – the first named Google update was launched. It includes a combination of algorithm changes and major index refreshes know as “Google Dance”.
  • In April, Google hit the websites that contain several links from co-owned domains. “Cassandra”, as it was known gave a severe blow to numerous sites consisting of hidden text and links.
  • July 2003 saw the enrollment of “Fritz” that started indexing the sites on a daily basis instead of a monthly basis.
  • In November, Florida launched by Google created a ruckus in the SEO industry. Many sites lost their top ranking because of keyword stuffing.


  • The next year January “Austin” came up to lower down websites that contain large chunks of invisible text and META-tag stuffing.
  • In February 2004, Google rolled out “Brandy” that brought a massive index expansion. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) gave importance to anchor text relevance and to the concept of link “neighborhoods”.


  • Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft jointly introduced “nofollow” update which cleaned up blogs containing spam blog comments.
  • In June, XML Sitemaps could be submitted by the webmasters using Webmaster Tools.
  • In October, Google merged its Maps data in the Local Business Center or LBC to drive a number of major changes in local SEO.

google panda update


  • In November, the “ Supplemental Update” was introduced by Google to bring significant changes to the supplemental index and how filtered pages were treated.


  • In May, “Universal Search” algorithm update was done where Google integrated traditional search results with News, Video, Images, Local, and other verticals.


  • In August, Google launched “Suggest” to show the suggested searches in a drop-down below the search box as visitors typed their queries.


  • Google released a preview of a gigantic infrastructure change known as “Caffeine” to enhance the speed crawlers, expand the search index, and integrate indexing and ranking in almost real-time.


  • In May, Matt Cutts announced May Day algorithm update that would affect the searches with long-tail keywords. The ranking of numerous websites dropped because of such a change.
  • On December 1, Google started targeting negative reviews as a ranking factor. Social Signals came into existence as a new ranking factor in Google”s algorithms.


  • Between January and February, two renowned companies – Overstock and JSPenney were penalized by Google for poor SEO tactics.
  • In February, for the very first time, Panda was launched with the mission to hit the sites that contained spammy content and also duplicate websites. According to Google statistics, Panda was a major algorithm update affecting 12% of the world-wide search results.
  • Following it, Panda algorithm was updated a few more times namely Panda 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on. Such updates led millions of sites lose their ranking on this search engine because of thin content.
  • In October, Google confirmed Search Queries Encryption for privacy reason. This update affected the webmasters on a global scale.
  • In November, the Freshness Update was rolled out to welcome newly added content in websites and penalizing sites containing old, outdated content.

google penguin 2.0


  • In April, the algorithm Penguin was introduced to affect the sites that contained low quality links.
  • In July, Google published lots of “unnatural links” warnings using the Webmaster Tools. However, Cutts told all site owners not to worry about the same.
  • In August, DMCA Penalty was announced by Google for penalizing websites violating copyrights.
  • Google announced the Exact Match Domain or EMD update to hit a lot of low-quality websites with the contained identical domains.


  • In March this year, Matt Cutts announced the 25th Panda update and probably the last at SMX (Search Marketing Expo Conference) West. However, Cutts added, people at large might not be able to notice the change when it is rolled out since the series of Panda updates will be more integrated in nature than what it used to be previously.