Updated On : Apr-22,2020 Time Investment : ~10 mins
Google's Major Algorithms & Updates

An Ultimate Guide To Learn About Google Algorithms And Their Changes

Google being the most popular search engine, everyone tries to desire to witness their website links on the first page of the Google SERP especially above the fold. To achieve the position in Google SERP sometimes people adopt unethical steps. This unethical way of gaining position would lower the quality of traffic coming to the website and it would ultimately hurt the reputation of Google itself.

To overcome this scenario, Google took up to form Google Algorithms. Google rolls out algorithmic updates once or twice every month. But these algorithms do not have an equal impact on the SERP. This ultimate guide will help in understanding major algorithms and updates in the past years. Moreover, it will help in knowing the major Google’s ranking factors, what is the impact of it and what are the preventive steps.


  1. Panda
  2. Penguin
  3. Pirate
  4. Hummingbird
  5. Pigeon
  6. Mobile-Friendly Update
  7. RankBrain
  8. Possum
  9. Fred

Google Algorithm - Google Panda:

Google Panda

Launched: Feb 24, 2011
Rollouts: ~monthly
Goal: De-rank sites with low-quality content

Google makes use of this algorithm to assign a content quality score to the webpages of a website. Initially, Panda was used as a filter rather than an algorithm. In January 2016, it was officially declared to incorporate Panda as a Google Ranking Algorithm. You need to make sure that Google Panda is not applied to the Search Result Pages in real-time. The positive aspect of incorporating Google Panda is that now websites are filtered and recovered faster than before.

What Is Filtered By Google Panda Algorithm:

  • Duplicate/ Plagiarised Content
  • Thin Content
  • User-Generated Spammy Content
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Poor User-Experience Of Website

How To Protect Your Website:

  1. Keep A Check On The Duplicate Content Across The Website: As stated, Duplicate or plagiarized content is considered as one of the most common Google Panda Triggers. Therefore, regularly monitoring your website by carrying out audits will make sure that there is no duplicate content on the website.

  2. Identification Of Thin Content: By thin content, we are trying to describe web pages that have inadequate amounts of unique content or you can say that pages with low content. These pages are generally filled with ads and affiliate links and are of no use to the users visiting the page. These pages do not provide any value to the page and are considered trash by Google Panda.

  3. Avoid Keyword Stuffing: Keyword Stuffing is a term that describes the over-use of specific keywords on a single web page. So keep monitoring the keyword density of the webpage and remove excessive keywords.

Google Penguin:

Google Penguin

Launched: April 24, 2012
Rollouts: May 25, 2012; Oct 5, 2012; May 22, 2013; Oct 4, 2013; Oct 17, 2014; September 27, 2016; October 6, 2016; real-time since
Goal: De-rank sites with spammy, manipulative link profiles

The main aim of Google Penguin is to identify the downranking websites that have the presence of unnatural links and deemed them. Such websites are deemed because of spamming search results and using manipulative link tactics. Since 2016, Penguin has been considered as a part of Google’s core ranking algorithm and operates in real-time.

What Is Filtered By Google Penguin Algorithm:

  • Websites that have links coming from poor quality, "spammy" sites
  • Websites that have links coming from sites created purely for SEO link building (PBNs)
  • Links coming from topically irrelevant sites
  • Paid links
  • Links with overly optimized anchor text

How To Protect Your Website:

  1. Keep Monitoring The Link Profile Growth Of Your Website: Google will not penalize your website for having two or three spammy links. Your website will be penalized when there is a sudden influx of toxic backlinks. To protect your website always look out for unusual spikes in backlinks. There are websites that can help you to know your website’s spam score Check @ https://moz.com/domain-analysis

  2. Check Out The Website For Penalty Risks: Google Penguin looks for stats that are incorporated into SEO. Check your website’s penalty risk here https://fruition.net/software/google-penalty-checker/

  3. Getting Rid Of The Spammy Links At The Earliest: Whenever you feel that your website is getting some spammy backlinks, don’t wait for too long. It is wise to remove those spammy links as soon as possible. To remove the harmful link or spammy backlinks from your website, you can make use of the disavow tool. Check out how to use the disavow tool to get rid of spammy links.

Google’s Pirate Algorithm:

Google Pirate

Launched: Aug 2012
Rollouts: Oct 2014
Goal: De-rank sites with copyright infringement reports

The Pirate Algorithm was designed to identify the websites that have received several copyright infringement reports and deemed them from ranking well in Google SERP. Websites that provide pirate content such as movies, videos, music, and books are affected by Google Pirate Algorithm. For instance torrent sites.

What Is Filtered By Google Pirate Algorithm:

  • Pirated content
  • High volume of copyright infringement reports
  • How To Protect Your Website:

Don't distribute anyone's content without the copyright owner's permission. Really, that's it.

Hummingbird Algorithm


Launched: August 22, 2013
Rollouts: —
Goal: Produce more relevant search results by better understanding the meaning behind queries

With the Hummingbird Algorithm, Google has made changes in the way search queries were interpreted. It provides search results that match search intent rather than individual keywords within the query. Google Hummingbird algorithm adds significant strength to the meaning behind the query as a whole. The major use of synonym words is also optimized by this algorithm.

Google has expanded the list of keywords instead of using the exact match keywords. Google will show theme-related results that are related to the keywords.

What Is Filtered By Google Hummingbird Algorithm:

  • Exact-match keyword targeting
  • Keyword stuffing

How To Protect Your Website:

Expand Your Keyword List: It is a good idea to expand the number of keywords that you can use to promote your website. This will prevent you from using 2 - 3 keywords repetitively. It also rules out the fear of keyword stuffing on your website. Moreover, you can focus on the synonyms, co-occurring terms that diversify the content. You can get

Discovering The Language Of Your Audience: You might be thinking why so? Well, it is quite logical that your website must be speaking the same language as your audience. It is a great way of building a connection with your potential customers. Avoid The Concept Of Exact-Match Keyword Concept: Using the exact-match keywords, it would be difficult for your website to gain a position in the Google SERP. To expand the horizon of your keywords and use in your website’s content, titles, meta description, meta tags, alt tags, etc.

Pigeon Algorithm

Pigeon Algorithm

Launched: July 24, 2014 (US)
Rollouts: December 22, 2014 (UK, Canada, Australia)
Goal: Provide high quality, relevant local search results

Google’s Pigeon algorithm was rolled-out to emphasis on the geographical location of your business website. This algorithm was said to drastically alter the Google result for the search queries that include location along with keywords. The Google Pigeon algorithm created a strong connection or bond between local algorithms and core algorithm. In simple words, you could see the same algorithm would be used to rank local and non-local Google results. This algorithm emphasizes more on the location and distance factors to provide the Google SERP. With the roll-out of this algorithm, there was an increase in the results that gave preferences to directory sites, provided the connection with Google Map searches and local physical location.

What Is Filtered By Google Pigeon Algorithm:

  • Poorly optimized pages
  • Improper setup of a Google My Business page
  • NAP inconsistency
  • Lack of citations in local directories (if relevant)

How To Protect Your Website:

  1. Optimization Of the Webpages: The websites having physical location must be listed on various local directories. It was the message for the local businesses to invest in on-page optimization of the website. The website owners must regularly work for on-page optimization and fix the issues that come up.
  1. Setting Up Of Google Business Page: The Google Business Page is created for the companies, ventures, organizations that have a physical location. These companies can create the Google Business Page and add their website into Google’s local index. It also helps Google to verify the ownership of the website and declare them authentic.

  2. Consistency Of NAP across the Local Listings: During local listing submission of your website make sure you add correct details. It should also match with the details that you have already verified through Google MyBusiness Page. NAP - Name Address Phone Number. While showing the Google SERP results if the results do not coordinate then the website would be deemed from ranking well in Google. If your business is also featured in local directories of any kind, make sure the business name, address, and phone number are also consistent across these listings.

  3. Visibility Through Relevant Local Directories: The internet is flooded with numerous local directories. But here you need to sort out the local directories that are relevant to your website and then submit your website on those local directories. Always make sure that you are quite accurate while choosing the niche of the local directories. It will also help you to make sure that your website is featured in various business directories.

Mobile-Friendly Update

Mobile Friendly Update

Launched: April 21, 2015
Rollouts: —
Goal: Give mobile-friendly pages a ranking boost in mobile SERPs, and de-rank pages that aren't optimized for mobile

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm is also called as the Mobilegeddon. It was rolled out by Google to ensure that the webpages are perfectly optimized for the desktop as well as mobile devices. The websites that have mobile-friendly appearance would be given an appropriate ranking in the Google SERP and others would be subsequently deemed from ranking well. With this algorithm, Desktop searches were not affected. The mobile-friendliness factor is a page-level factor that defines each and every single page of the website.

What Is Filtered By Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm:

  • Lack of a mobile version of the page
  • Improper viewport configuration
  • Illegible content
  • Plugin use

How To Protect Your Website:

Optimize Web Pages To Be Compliant With Mobile Devices: Well, now this goes without saying. As more and more people are surfing the internet through mobile devices, it is important for every website to be mobile-friendly and provide a responsive design to the website.

Regularly Take Mobile-Friendly Test For Your Website: Once you are sure that your website provides mobile-friendly design, use the mobile test. This test will help you in analyzing whether the website will be working efficiently on smartphone devices or not.


Rank Brain

Launched: October 26, 2015 (possibly earlier)
Rollouts: —
Goal: Deliver better search results based on relevance & machine learning

RankBrain Algorithm of Google is basically a machine learning system that provides Google to decipher the meaning of the search queries fired by the users. It serves the best matching search result in response to the search queries. RankBrain algorithm possesses a query processing component that helps Google to understand and evaluate the website. In addition, this also helps in creating relevance in the search results to provide better results to the users. Generally, RankBrain relies upon the traditional SEO factors such as backlink building, on-page optimization, and off-page submissions.

What Is Filtered By Google Rank Brain Algorithm:

  • Lack of query-specific relevance features
  • Poor user experience

How To Protect Your Website:

Improve the Quality Of User Experience: Optimize the website design and its content so that it serves a better visitor experience. If it is not so, then the website will be deemed from ranking well in Google SERP. Always monitor your web pages so that it attracts the consumers.

Work On The Competitive Research: You must also be aware of your competitors and how they are performing in the online market. Try to put in more and more original content on the website as it would be an interactive element on the website and help your website to be more successful.



Launched: September 1, 2016
Rollouts: —
Goal: Deliver better, more diverse results based on the searcher's location and the business' address

Google Possum Algorithm is used to provide relevant results based on Google's Local Ranking filter. With the help of this algorithm, Google will be able to provide more and more relevant search queries based on the physical location of the websites. (If a store is near your location then according to your search query the store would come up and then the other relevant results would be shown). It helps to boost the businesses that are having a physical locations. Before the local listing check that your website’s physical location is not clashing with other business groups. By this, your website may rank down in the Google SERP.

What Is Filtered By Google Possum Algorithm:

  • Sharing a physical address with a similar business
  • Competitors whose business address is closer to the searcher's location

How To Protect Your Website:

  1. Work On The Geo-Specific Rank Tracking: Google Possum Algorithm plays a vital role in providing relevant results based on the geographical location of your website.

  2. Expanding The List Of Local Keywords: By increasing the number of your keywords in the content of your website you are broadening the reach for your customers. It will also help you in tracking how you rank for different keyword sets.



Launched: March 8, 2017
Rollouts: —
Goal: Filter out low-quality search results whose sole purpose is generating ad and affiliate revenue

There is a funny incidence behind the name of this Google Algorithm. Once Google Gary Illyes jokingly suggested that all the algorithm updates must be named as ‘Fred’. Hence the name Google Fred was adopted. This Algorithm deemed the websites from ranking well in Google SERP that do not follow the guidelines of Google Webmaster. Studies have shown that this algorithm has affected numerous content-based websites such as blog websites. The articles that were marked as low quality were not allowed to rank good. It also affected the affiliate revenue system of many business websites.

What Is Filtered By Google Fred Algorithm:

  • Low-value, ad-centered content
  • Thin, affiliate-heavy content

How To Protect Your Website:

Follow With Google Webmaster Guidelines: This is a simple rule, if the algorithm is monitoring the websites on the basis of guidelines then it is best to follow then and design the website according to it. It will keep your website safe and secure.

Watch Out For Thin Content: Always ensure then while updating new bogs or articles the length of the content must be more than 1000+, original and provide information to the users.

Dolly Solanki Dolly Solanki

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