Algorithm Update

What is an Algorithm Update?

Algorithm Update – A change made to a Google algorithm. Updates typically affect the rankings of websites. Google makes hundreds of adjustments to their algorithms throughout the year, as well as several major updates each year.

Google has defined an algorithm update as the addition of a new ranking signal to its algorithm. Over the past few years, however, many of those signals have acquired “dials”, which can be turned up and turned down, blurring the lines between subtle changes and true updates. Each year, Google makes hundreds of small improvements to its ranking algorithm—relatively few of which have any real noticeable effect on natural search results.

Index Updates and Data Refreshes

Not all updates involve changes to search engine ranking signals. Google makes continuous updates to its index as it crawls the Web for content, making new results available to searches. Most of Google’s index updates are automated; however, occasionally are tied to a specific part of the algorithm. The specialized—manually triggered—index updates are known as data refreshes; run to remove low-quality sites from search results.

Google Algorithm Updates

October 25, 2019

BERT Update

Google announced the BERT Update, calling it the biggest change to Google search in the past 5 years. Google uses BERT models to better understand search queries. Google said this change impacted both search rankings and featured snippets and BERT (which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) will be used on 10 percent of U.S. English searches.

September 24, 2019

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google’s Danny Sullivan announced via a tweet that a broad core algorithm update would be released within a few hours and it would take a few days to complete rolling out. Google’s guidance was the same as it had been for all other recent core algorithm updates.

June 2, 2019

June 2019 Core Update

On June 2, Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan tweeted that Google would be releasing a new broad core algorithm update on June 3. The next day, Google confirmed the update was live and would be rolling out to its various data centers over the coming days. As is the case with any broad core algorithm update, Google tells us there is nothing specific to fix because a core update encompasses a broad range of factors.

March 12, 2019

March 2019 Core Update (a.k.a. Florida 2)

Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter the release of a global broad core algorithm update. SEJ confirmed this update is particularly important and one of the biggest Google updates in years. Sullivan once again recommended following the guidance it provided following the March 9, 2018 update.

February 13, 2019

Valentine’s Day Update

Algorithm trackers and industry chatter indicated some sort of unconfirmed update that took place on and before this date. However, unlike other updates, mostly positive changes in rankings were being reported.

October 31, 2018

Unconfirmed Halloween Update

Some webmasters reported changes starting around Halloween, perhaps indicating an (unconfirmed) Google update. But there was little evidence of a significant update here. The more likely cause of the chatter was spillover from the August broad core algorithm update and Google ramping up its use of neural matching.

September 27, 2018


A “Small” Update

On September 27 (Google’s 20th birthday), many within the SEO community began noticing significant spikes and drops in traffic, indicating some sort of update was underway. Some of the sites impacted by the August broad core algorithm update reportedly made a recovery. Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed via Twitter September 29 that some sort of “smaller” update had taken place (but it wasn’t a broad core algorithm update).

August 1, 2018

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google confirmed via Twitter for the third time this year the rollout of a broad core algorithm update. In doing so, Google’s Search Liaison Danny Sullivan recommended following the guidance it provided following the March 9, 2018 update. This update has been referred to as “Medic” by some in the industry, even though Google said it was a general ranking update and wasn’t specifically targeting medical sites.

April 16, 2018

Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google confirmed via Twitter the release of another broad core algorithm update and indicated it was similar to the March 9, 2018 update, which was about content relevance.

March 9, 2018

Broad Core Algorithm Update

On March 12, Google confirmed via Twitter that a “broad core algorithm update” had rolled out the prior week. While Google was light on details, Google said the changes were meant to “benefit pages that were previously under-rewarded,” and advised everyone to “continue building great content.”

December 12, 2017

Maccabees Update

Some in the search community reported their websites being hit by updates between December 12 and 14. Google confirmed several minor changes to the core algorithm during the timeframe but downplayed the significance of the period of flux.

September 8, 2017

Fall Flux

Industry chatter and SEO tracking tools indicated some sort of (still unconfirmed) Google update may have occurred on this date. Glenn Gabe, president of G-Squared Interactive, also detected several noteworthy Google changes impacting traffic and search visibility starting September 8. This was followed by additional volatility and fluctuations on September 18, 25, and 29, as well as October 4, 8, and 12.

August 19, 2017

Quality Update

Webmasters and SEO ranking tools detected some minor volatility on August 19-20, with signs indicating this may have been another (unconfirmed) Google quality update. Among the ranking casualties: category pages, pages with aggressive advertising, lower quality/thin content, and other negative user experience elements, according to an analysis by Glenn Gabe, president of GSQi. There was some speculation that Google began testing this algorithm on August 14 because pages that were impacted (either positively or negatively) on this date were further impacted on August 19.

July 9, 2017

Quality Update

SEO ranking tools detected some minor volatility on July 9, potentially another (unconfirmed) Google quality update.


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