Algorithm Lookout

Find a comprehensive timeline of all algorithm updates
and changes implemented by the lean, mean Google machine
over the pastdecade as well as other major search
engine announcements.

Algorithm Lookout
  1. 2012

    Panda 3.8

    A Panda data refresh that noticeably affected only 1% of queries worldwide.

    Panda 3.7

    Panda data refresh started rolling out. Less than 1% of queries noticeably affected in the U.S. and 1% worldwide.

    52 search quality highlights

    Search quality highlights related to freshness, improvement to local searches and a number of updates to sitelinks.

    Panda 3.6

    Only a week after the Panda 3.5 data update was released, Google confirmed another data refresh has been made.


    Google released the "webspam" algorithm, a change to Google’s search results that was designed to punish pages that have been spamming Google.

    Panda 3.5

    A Panda data update was rolled with minimal impact.

    50 search quality highlights

    Google released an additional set of search quality highlights related to freshness, synonyms, anchor texts and image searches.

    Panda 3.4

    Another batch of update highlights were posted, this time, effecting 1.6% of search queries.

    Panda 3.3

    Google released a minor Panda "data refresh".

    17 search quality highlights

    Google released search quality highlights related to speed, freshness, and spell-checking.

    Panda 3.2

    Google has confirmed SERoundtable's reports of the Panda 3.2 update. There was a rumored Panda 3.2 update during the holidays but Google never confirmed it.
  2. 2011

    Panda 3.1

    Another minor Panda update, effecting less than 1% of all searches

    Panda 2.5

    Google declined to share any specifics about what types of sites were targeted by the Panda 2.5 update.

    Panda 2.4

    Panda update has rolled out internationally to most languages except for Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The change is said to impact 6-9% of non-English queries.


    Panda 2.3

    Google confirmed that a small update to the Panda algorithm was made. Some sites might see traffic drops.

    Panda 2.2

    This update target sites that scrape and re-publish content and are out-ranking the original source of the content.

    Panda 2.1

    Panda/Farmer goes international

    Google globalized their Panda update and it now affects all English-language Google users.

    Ability to block sites in search results

    Google adds the “Block all results.” The update enable users to block specific domains from their future search results.

    Panda/Farmer announced

    Google announced the Panda update - a change in the rankings algorithm directed against "low quality" content in order to drive spam levels lower.

    Change to numbers in Google WMT

    Instead of showing numbers rounded to two or three digits under the 'Impressions' and 'Click' tabs, the numbers will now be shown with one or two significant digits.

    Algorithm change lower spam levels

    This algorithm change affected sites with low levels of original content in order to lower spam levels.

    Confirmed Toolbar PR update

    Google has updated the PR values within the Google Toolbar.
  3. 2010

    Reading levels in advanced search

    New feature added to the Google advanced search that allow users to restrict results to a certain reading level.

    User experience algorithm change

    This algorithm change detects merchants that provide "poor user experience" and lowers their rankings.

    Rich snippets for local search

    Rich Snippets helps people find web pages that reference a specific place or location.

    rel=alternate hreflang= announced

    Google introduced which helps multilingual sites target their international/multilingual audience more efficiently.

    Instant search launched

    Google instant dynamically displays relevant search results while typing and predicts the rest of the query.

    SERP Breadcrumb support

    Google added support for a Breadcrumb (nickname for Google's modification to show site hierarchies) markup format that allows webmasters to identify the breadcrumb hierarchy on their pages.

    Expanded results from a domain

    Algorithm change that made it easier for users to find a large number of results from a single site.

    Caffeine launched

    Caffeine is a search indexing system that provides much relevant and fresher results for users by indexing new pages faster and on a continuous basis.

    "Mayday" algorithm change

    "Mayday" was a rankings change that altered the why Google decided which sites are the best match for long tail queries. Mostly sites with no valuable content were affected by this change.

    Rich snippets international

    Google announced international availability of rich snippets.

    Rich snippets recipes

    For certain sites with recipe content, Google users can see quick facts when these recipes pages show up as part of the search results.

    Site speed ranking announcement

    Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests. Currently, less than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal.
  4. 2009

    Toolbar PR update

    Cross-domain rel="canonical" support

    The update helps with situations in which there's a legitimate reason to duplicate content across different websites.

    Google Personal Web-search

    Google extended the personalized search to signed-out users worldwide and in more than forty languages

    Googlebot-News announced

    A new user agent for robots.txt was added - Googlebot-News. The new Googlebot-News user agent can be used to specify which pages of a website should be crawled and ultimately appear in Google News.

    Google Social Search launched

    Google Social Search makes it easier for people to find relevant public content from their friends and contacts.

    Anchors in mini sitelinks

    This search snippet enhancement provides links within the snippet to relevant section of the page, making it easier to find specific data.

    Google SOAP API shut down

    Google shutdown SOAP API and replaced it with AJAX API.

    Caffeine beta test announced

    Vince update

    The Vince update gave factors such as trust, quality, PageRank and other metrics that carry the importance and value of a page, higher influence in the algorithm for generic queries.

    rel=canonical announced

    Google supports a format that allows site owners to publicly specify their preferred version of a URL.
  5. 2007

    Google Webmaster Central leaves beta

    Google Webmaster Central officially came out of beta.

    Googlebombs "defused"

    Google defused the "Google Bomb" That presented George W. Bush at the top of its results in a search on 'miserable failure'.
  6. 2006

    Google stops issuing SOAP API keys

    XML Sitemaps announced

    The first joint initiative between Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft to improve the Web crawl process for search engines.

    Google launches Custom Search

    Google custom Search Engine permits users to create a search engine that reflects their interests.

    Google acquires YouTube

    Google acquires YouTube for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction.
  7. 2005

    Google Sitemaps announced

    Google Sitemaps was designed to help keeping Google informed about new web pages and updates and increasing the coverage of web pages in the Google index.

    rel=nofollow announced

    Google introduced the rel="nofollow" tag with intention to fight spammers. When attributed to hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when they rank websites in Google search results.
  8. 2003

    Florida update

    Floria update affected the rankings of websites who created backlinks with other similar sites. The new algorithm emphasized that quality content is the most important factor for search engine rankings.

    "Fritz" update

    Google switched to an index that was updated every day
  9. 2002

    Google SOAP launched

    The SOAP Search API was created for developers and researchers interested in using Google Search as a resource in their applications.