5 Major Google Algorithm Updates

Google keeps updating its algorithm every week, month, or year. Mainly, these algorithm updates are too small to detect; however, sometimes, it introduces a change that absolutely transforms the SEO landscape. But what are Google Algorithms? Google’s algorithm is a complicated system used to provide the best results from its search index. In this post, you will find five major search algorithm updates that disrupted the way we did our SEO before.


Panda? not the animal, but the update! Before 2011, Google’s search results did not produce quality content. Therefore, Panda was first introduced in 2011 to reduce rankings for low-quality sites and better rankings for sites with original content and information. This Google update changed SEO forever.


Google’s battle with low-quality content started with the Panda algorithm, and Penguin was an addition to it. Google officially ventured Penguin, the “web spam algorithm update” in 2012. The aim of the update was to specifically target link spam and manipulative link-building practices.

Google values the links that link back to your website. So if low-quality links were used to get a high ranking, then penguin update penalized such defaulters. This update checked the quality of the link before it linked back to the website.


Hummingbird was launched in 2013 to help provide more search results to its users. To support that, Hummingbird allowed Google to understand and rank pages for high-quality search queries that were not exactly similar to the query but had relevant information related to it.

Even though keywords were still important, this Google algorithm made it possible for web pages to rank the query without the exact words. So expand your keyword analysis and focus on the intent because even without the exact keywords, it allows matching searcher’s intent.


Launched in 2014, pigeon update aimed to offer more useful local search results. Because of this, local businesses saw the effects of the update on their website’s analytics data.

For this update, Google enhanced ranking signals for both Google Search and Google Maps which improved their location and distance ranking parameters to better provide local results to users. Pigeon update changed the way local companies ranked in organic search.


After Panda and Penguin wondering what Possum is? It is a massive algorithm update that happened in 2016. The motive of the update was to diversify the local results and control spam from ranking too. It is regarded as the biggest update since Penguin that came in 2014.

While the update had great motive; however, one of its challenges faced was the filtering out of legitimate business listings. Moreover, various studies suggested that Possum affected over sixty percent of Google’s local results.

Final thoughts

Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, Hummingbird, Possum may be the names of birds or animals, but these are the 5 major Google updates that changed SEO forever.

By now we already know that Google will constantly keep updating its algorithm. However, one thing is clear, if you avoid any black hat SEO shortcuts, your website will be least affected by any major updates. So focus on building high-quality websites with great content.


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