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Google Updates Overview

Google Updates are important events for webmasters and SEOs everywhere. These algorithm changes, filters, data refreshes or other alterations are often to blame when a website suffers a drop in ranking or SEO Visibility.

Google Updates are important events for webmasters and SEOs everywhere. These algorithm changes, filters, data refreshes or other alterations are often to blame when a website suffers a drop in ranking or SEO Visibility . This page provides an overview of all important Google Updates, going back to 2010.

Short introduction to Google Updates

A Google Update, such as the Mobile Update or Phantom Update , is the term used to describe a change affecting how rankings are calculated by the search engine , Google. Some updates are major algorithm changes and others may be the application of filters of a refresh of the data basis that an algorithm runs on. The general aim of any update is always to improve the relevance and quality of the search results , with most changes focusing on one or more particular features, such as an optimization to fight search engine spam or to combat duplicate content .

Most updates are initiated manually and rolled out for Google’s individual country indexes . Some updates, like the Penguin Update or Panda Update , are already part of Google’s so-called “core algorithm”. They have become so integral to the search engine that they now develop continuously and automatically, and are no longer manually updated.

Each year, Google implements over 600 adaptations and updates to its algorithms. Most of these alterations take place unnoticed and are not announced within the search engine industry.

The most significant Google Updates take place when there is an adjustment to the structure and functionality of the algorithm. These have more of an impact a Data Refresh, which does not add any new features to the core algorithm, and simply updates the data used by the algorithm.

Google Updates since 2010

The table lists all important Google Updates since 2010. These are listed chronologically, starting with the most recent (as of June 2017).

Update Name

Date first Rolled Out


Confirmed by Google?

Google September 2022 Core Update

September 12, 2022

On September 12, Google announced the release of the “September 2022 Core Update”. The rollout will take two weeks.


Google Helpful Content Update

August 25, 2022

On August 25, Google announced the rollout of the “Helpful Content Update” has begun. The rollout has been completed by September 9, 2022.

» Google Helpful Content Update


Google May 2022 Core Update

May 22, 2022

After over a week of speculation from the SEO community, Google announced its May 2022 Core Update on May 25. 2022.

» Google May 2022 Core Update


Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

December 1, 2021

On December 1st Google has announced that a December 2021 Product Reviews Update will be rolled out.

» Google Product Reviews Update December 2021


Google November 2021 Core Update

November 17, 2021

On November 17, 2021, Google announced that they were releasing a broad Core Update. According to Google the rollout has been completed by November 30th.

» Google November 2021 Core Update


Google June/July 2021 Core Update

July 1, 2021

The rollout of the second part of the Google June/July 2021 Core Update started on July 1st, 2021 and ended on July 12th.

» Google June/July 2021 Core Update


Google Page Experience Update

June 15, 2021

The rollout of the Page Experience Update and the introduction of the new user experience metrics Core Web Vitals began on June 15, 2021 – and, according to Google, will drag on for two and a half months and not be completed until the end of August 2021.

» Page Experience Update & Core Web Vitals


Google June/July 2021 Core Update

June 2, 2021

Google has announced a two-part summer update. After the June update we can see losers in the fields of Thin Content or YMYL. Some of the winning pages are older pages and some were losers in the past after the December or November 2020 updates.

» Google June 2021 Core Update


Google December 2020 Core Update

December 3, 2020

Google is announcing its third Core Update 2020, and we can see some clear shifts in rankings in typical areas related to E-A-T and content – music, health, news, and ecommerce.

» Google December 2020 Core Update


Google May 2020 Core Update

May 4, 2020

In the midst of the corona pandemic, Google is announcing its second Core Update 2020, and the changes resulting from this Core Update appear to affect many industries; from prescriptions to health to finance.

» Google May 2020 Core Update


Google January 2020 Core Update

January 13, 2020

The first official Core Update of 2020 was rolled out on 13th January 2020. There is not yet any information regarding its impact. With this update, Google continues its communication strategy of (pre-)announcing Core Updates on Twitter.

» Google Update January 2020


Google November Update 2019

November 7, 2019

Webmasters in the USA who run affiliate sites have observed massive changes in the travel, food and health sectors. Google has not commented on the changes, but SEO experts have described the update as “aggressive”.

» Google Update November 2019


Google BERT Update

October 24, 2019

It’s the biggest change to Google’s algorithm for five years, affecting one in ten search queries. With the Google BERT Update, Google aims to improve the interpretation of complex long-tail search queries and display more relevant search results.

» Google BERT Update


Google September 2019 Core Update

September 24, 2019

The September 2019 Core Update was rolled-out globally, starting on the 24th of September. This Google Update focused on improvements in the content quality in the SERPs. For the second time, Google pre-announced a core algorithm update in advance.

» Google September 2019 Core Update


Google Rich Snippet Review Update

September 18, 2019

Star-ratings for websites, which Google had previously shown in the SERPs, were drastically reduced. With the update, reviews are no longer displayed in the SERPs if generated by the websites themselves. Google called this a “self-serving” mark-up which was not adding value for users.


Google June 2019 Core Update

June 3, 2019

Google set a new precedent with its “June 2019 Core Update” by, for the first time in the history of Google Updates, announcing the roll-out of a major core algorithm change in advance. This update was the second major update of 2019 altering the core algorithm, and was rolled out on the 3rd of June, as preannounced.

» Google June 2019 Core Update


Google March 2019 Core Update

March 12, 2019

In this global core algorithm update, there were ranking shifts for keywords related to health and other sensitive topics. The algorithm was also adjusted to favor trust and expertise, as well as user signals.

» Google March 2019 Core Update


Google Halloween Update

Early November 2018

Fluctuations in the SERPs at the start of November 2018 point to an unofficial quality update. The timing of this update led to the name, “Halloween Update”, although it was not officially confirmed by Google.


E-A-T-Update #2

Early October 2018

This adjustment of the E-A-T Update saw health sites that had profited from the first E-A-T Update lose visibility. Similarly, some website that had been negatively impacted by the first E-A-T Update experienced a recovery.


Google Birthday Update

September 2018

Unofficial Google update that affected many domains previously affected by the August 2018 E-A-T Update; often with an inverse trend.



August 2018

Official Google update that rewards Expertise-Authority-Trust websites, especially for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) keywords.

» Google E-A-T-Update


Mobile Speed Update

July 2018

Since 9th of July 2018, a website’s load time is an official ranking signal for Google’s mobile search results. According to Google, the Speed Update only impacts websites that provide the slowest user experience.

» Google Speed Update Analysis


Video Carousels on Desktop

June 2018

Google has started showing video carousels for desktop searches. At the same time, many organic video rankings disappeared. This has led to Visibility fluctuations for websites with a lot of video content like YouTube or Vimeo.


Rollout of Mobile-First-Index

March 26, 2018

After a year-and-a-half of preparation, Google announced that the mobile version of websites would, for the first time, be used to create its Google Index. This switch to Mobile-first indexing initially only affects a few websites, with Google not revealing how long the rollout is expected to last or when it should be completed.

» Rollout of the Mobile-First Index


Core Algorithm Update

March 12, 2018

In November 2017, many webmasters suspected that a Google-Update had taken place. These suspicions were confirmed with the official Core Update, which was rolled out on 12th March 2018, leading to major fluctuations in the search results. Winning websites from autumn 2017 received another boost; losers saw further decline.

» Core Algorithm Analysis


Update Snippet Length

November 30, 2017

This update saw Google increase the length of meta descriptions displayed for many search results. The maximum length used to be 155 characters; with the update it (nearly) doubled to 300.


User Localization Update

October 27, 2017

Since October 2017, users are given search results based on their current physical location, regardless of the top-level domain (e.g. they enter into the address bar.

» Localization Update Analysis


Chrome HTTPS Warning

October 17, 2017

The release of Chrome 62 also includes the display of a warning for websites that request user data but that fail to implement HTTPS encryption correctly or completely.


Dictionary Update

June 25, 2017

In June 2017, an update created (more) Visibility improvements for dictionary domains. URLs for dictionaries improved their rankings, mainly for short-tail keywords that could have various different user intents.

» Dictionary Update Analysis


Fred Update

March 3, 2017

The update was not officially confirmed by Google. The name comes from Gary Illyes, who jokingly said that all updates would now be called “Fred.” Pages most affected were those with low-quality content without any real added value for users. The update is thought to have targeted excessive use of advertising banners, meaning it can possibly be considered an iteration of the so-called “Interstitial Penalty.”

Yes and no

Phantom V Update

February 2017

The heavy impact observed on rankings suggested that adjustments were again made to the Phantom Update. The update was not confirmed by Google. Nevertheless, the pattern of results pointed to this being a “Phantom.”

» Phantom V Analysis


Interstitial Penalty

January 10, 2017

This update was supposed to primarily target pages that made aggressive use of interstitials and pop-ups because of their negative impact on user-friendliness.


Penguin Update 4.0

September 27, 2016 to October 6, 2016

This large update of the Penguin algorithm was carried out in several steps, lasting around two weeks. In the second phase, websites had the chance to escape the Penguin filter and regain rankings by having penalties removed.

» Penguin 4.0 Analysis


Mobile Update 2

May 12, 2016

This update gave increased weight to websites’ mobile-friendliness when evaluating rankings for the mobile Google search. Websites that had not yet been optimized for smartphones at the time of the first Mobile Update had the chance of regaining rankings they had lost in the mobile SERPs.

» Mobilegeddon 2 Analysis


Phantom Update IV

May 10, 2016

The pattern of this unconfirmed update was similar to previous Phantom Updates, with the traffic on a number of the same websites being affected. It is therefore assumed that this was the fourth iteration of this algorithm adjustment.

» Phantom IV Analysis

Yes and no

Google Core Update

January 2016

Pages with high-quality, holistic content were the big winners for many keywords. But it was not just the amount of content that was decisive in determining rankings. far more, it was the question whether the content was relevant for fulfilling the user intent.

» Google Core Update Analysis


Phantom Update III

December 2015

After a change to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, webmasters and SEOs across the world saw changes to their rankings. Various analyses found that the update primarily addressed user intent and content quality.

» Phantom III Analysis



October 26, 2015

RankBrain is a self-learning system that is, first and foremost, supposed to deal with search queries that Google is not yet familiar with. Every day, more than 15% of searches made by users are new to Google.

» RankBrain Analysis


Google Panda 4.2

Mid-July 2015

The latest Google Panda came ten months after the previous one, again focusing on content quality, redundant, irrelevant content and spam. However, with long roll-out times (approx. 8 weeks) of updates, and (near-)simultaneous algorithm changes, it was not always clear for webmasters which updates were affecting their traffic.

» Panda 4.2 Analysis


Newswave Update

Mid-June 2015

This update, which Google did not confirm, primarily affected search queries related to trending keywords and information-related keywords. Media websites benefited most from this roll-out.

» Newswave Analysis


The Quality Update

May 2015

While Google confirmed that changes were made to the ranking signals for website quality, no further details were provided. For this reason, this update was dubbed “Phantom.”

This second iteration of the Phantom Update (after the first in May 2013) caused extreme fluctuations in the SERPs, and led to some websites losing half of their traffic. The impact of this algorithm update was felt worldwide.

» Phantom II analysis

Yes and no

Mobile Update (“Mobilegeddon”)

April 22, 2015

Google used this update to turn websites’ mobile-friendliness into a ranking factor for mobile search. It was the first update that Google explicitly announced before rolling it out.

» Mobilegeddon Analysis


Brand / E-Commerce Update

February 2015

A possible update to Google’s algorithms sent waves through the rankings of brand websites and online shops. The update focused on keywords with a high search volume.

» eCommerce Update Analysis


Pirate Update Version 2 (DMCS Penalty)

October 21, 2014

This is an improvement to the Pirate Update. Above all, this is supposed to recognize and penalize copyright infringements better. Google confirmed this iteration.

» Pirate 2 Analysis


Penguin 3

October 2014

Google announced another Penguin Update, yet the changes caused by this latest one were neither obvious, nor did they seem to happen all at once. Overall, less than 1% of search queries were affected, over the course of several weeks, making the impact of this Penguin on websites’ traffic much less than other that of other iterations.


Panda Update 4.1

September 23, 2014

In particular, pages lacking in content were affected. Google stated that the update affected up to five percent of all search queries.

» Panda 4.1 Analysis


HTTPS / SSL Update

August 6, 2014

This update saw HTTPS encryption become a ranking signal. For Google, the update was an important step towards increasing security when using websites worldwide. It was not immediately clear how strongly this would actually influence rankings.

» HTTPS Update Analysis


Panda Update 4.0

May 19, 2014

7.5% of English-language search queries were affected by Google’s Panda Update. The fourth generation of this algorithm again adjusted the quality demands placed on websites.

» Panda 4.0 Analysis


Payday Loan Algorithm Update 2.0

Estimated around May 16, 2014

This update improved Google’s capability of filtering out pages with spammy search queries from the search results. This was intended to greatly improve the user experience for people searching on Google. At the same time, it became more difficult for spam-heavy domains to achieve good rankings.


Page Layout Update Version 3 (“Ads above the fold”)

February 6, 2014

This update saw Google take a stricter approach towards websites with too much advertising “above the fold.” Such ads make for a vastly inferior user experience, so Google penalized the affected websites.


Penguin Update 2.1

October 4, 2013

The Penguin Update was adjusted, with a moderate impact on the search results. The first iteration of the second generation tweaked what was already well-known and did not cause too much havoc in the SERPs.


Hummingbird Update

August 20, 2013

The Hummingbird Update improved the semantic search and extended the Google Knowledge Graph. Since Hummingbird, Google to recognize relationships between search queries. This update can be considered the predecessor of RankBrain.

» Hummingbird Analysis


Pay Day Loan Algorithm

June 11, 2013

This Google Update targeted niche websites that are frequently affected by span, like pornography or credit sites. The update was announced on 11.06.2013.


Penguin Update 2.0

May 22, 2013

The algorithm of this update was overworked and greatly improved, in order to advance the fight against link spam.

» Penguin 2.0 Analysis


Phantom Update I

May 2013

The first version of what would become known the Phantom Update. Google did not confirm the precise nature of the algorithm change but the industry certainly felt the impact of this, and later Phantom Updates.


Pony Update (Panda Update Nr. 22)

November 21, 2012

This update, which was confirmed by Google, seems to have basically been a data refresh. Nevertheless, it led to major drops in rankings for many websites.

» Pony Analysis


Page Layout Update Nr. 2 (“Ads above the fold”)

October 9, 2012

Google did confirm this update but it is not clear whether it was simply a data refresh or something bigger.


Penguin Update 1.2

October 5, 2012

Only 0.3% of all search queries were affected by this Penguin Update.


EMD-Update (Exact Match Domain Update)

September 27, 2012

The EMD Update considerably lowered the importance of Exact Match Domains. Since then, the relevance of keyword domains is no longer as high as it used to be. Together with the Panda Update, implemented at the same time, this created noticeable changes in the search results.


Pirate Update (DMCA Penalty)

August 10, 2012

The introduction of this update saw pages punished that are guilty of copyright infringement and e.g. offer pirated material. The assumption is that websites were affected who had previously been reported to Google via so-called “DMCA Takedown Requests.”


Penguin Update

April 24, 2012

This update is also referred to as a “Webspam Update” because it targets webspam measures like keyword stuffing and first affected 3.1% of all English-language search results.

» Penguin Analysis


March 50-Pack Update + Tweaks to handling of anchor text

March 23, 2012

Google stated that this update affected around 1.6% of all search queries.


Page Layout Update (“Ads above the fold”)

January 19, 2012

Following this update, websites are punished if they display too much advertising above the fold. This is seen as inhibiting the user experience.


Freshness Update

November 3, 2011

Google announced that this update affected 35% of all search queries. The adjustment to the algorithm dealt primarily with how up-to-date websites are.

» Freshness Update Analysis


Panda Update 2

October 14, 2011

According to Google’s Matt Cutts, this update to the Panda Algorithm affected up to 2% of all search queries.


Panda Update

August 12, 2011

This Panda Update was rolled out worldwide on the same day, and did not just affect English-language search queries. The only languages not affected were Korean, Japanese and Chinese


Expanded Sitelinks Update

August 2011

Google tested the roll-out of expanded sitelinks, which greatly increase the size and visibility of a result in the SERP, over a few weeks. Eventually, Google settled on maximum six expanded links for a result, each with the URL and short snippet.

Yes Update

June 2, 2011

In an unusual act of cooperation, Google, as well as two other major search providers, Yahoo and Microsoft, made joint steps towards encouraging the use of structured data. Websites that use Schema markup can have more information shown on the SERP in the form of a Rich Snippet.



June 8, 2010

This was a major change to Google’s indexing structure to include news, blog posts and other updates in its search results faster. Google stated that Caffeine meant that “50% fresher results ” were provided thanks to the rollout of Caffeine.


May Day Update

May 2010

This update was intended to improve the quality of search results. Mostly longtail keywords were affected.


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