30 Major Google Algorithm Updates, explained in 2024

Google, the big search engine we all know, uses something called algorithms to decide which websites to show when we search for something. But what are these algorithms? Let’s break it down in simple terms.

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm is a precise set of rules or instructions designed to solve a specific computational problem or perform a particular task. It’s a sequence of well-defined steps that can be executed by a computer to accomplish a desired outcome.

Algorithms are fundamental in computer science and are used extensively in various applications such as data processing, machine learning, and cryptography. They form the backbone of software systems, enabling efficient problem-solving and data manipulation.

The Importance of Google Algorithms

Google’s job is to help people find what they’re looking for on the internet. But with billions of websites out there, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack! That’s where Google algorithms come in. They help Google decide which websites are most relevant to our search.

Google Algorithm Updates, Explained

Google has many algorithms, each with its job. Let’s take a look at some of the important ones:

1. Panda Algorithm

  • Date: Introduced in February 2011, with subsequent updates.
  • How it works: Panda focuses on the quality of content. It evaluates websites based on factors like originality, usefulness, and readability. Websites with low-quality, thin, or duplicate content are penalized, while those with high-quality, original content are rewarded.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Panda algorithm, focus on creating unique, valuable content that serves the needs of your audience. Avoid duplicate content, thin content, and keyword stuffing. Regularly audit your website for low-quality content and improve or remove it.

2. Penguin Algorithm

  • Date: First introduced in April 2012, with subsequent updates.
  • How it works: Penguin targets websites that use spammy or manipulative tactics to artificially boost their search rankings. It looks for things like keyword stuffing, paid links, and other black-hat SEO techniques. Websites caught engaging in these practices are penalized.
  • How to adjust: Adjusting to the Penguin algorithm involves cleaning up any spammy or manipulative SEO practices. Focus on building high-quality backlinks from reputable websites, and avoid purchasing links or participating in link schemes. Monitor your backlink profile regularly and disavow any toxic links.

3. Hummingbird Algorithm

  • Date: Launched in August 2013.
  • How it works: Hummingbird aims to understand the meaning behind search queries rather than just matching keywords. It uses natural language processing and semantic search to provide more relevant search results. Hummingbird also considers context and user intent when interpreting search queries.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Hummingbird algorithm, focus on creating content that answers the specific questions and needs of your target audience. Use natural language and conversational tone in your content. Conduct keyword research to understand the intent behind search queries and optimize your content accordingly.

4. RankBrain Algorithm

  • Date: Introduced in October 2015.
  • How it works: RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm that helps Google understand the meaning of ambiguous or unique search queries. It learns from user interactions and adjusts search results accordingly. RankBrain aims to provide more relevant search results by understanding the context and intent behind search queries.
  • How to adjust: Adjusting to RankBrain involves focusing on creating high-quality, relevant content that matches the intent behind search queries. Use natural language and avoid keyword stuffing. Monitor your website’s performance in search results and adapt your content strategy based on user engagement metrics.

5. BERT Algorithm

  • Date: Rolled out in October 2019.
  • How it works: BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) helps Google understand the context of words in search queries by considering the surrounding words and phrases. It improves Google’s understanding of longer, more conversational search queries.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the BERT algorithm, focus on creating content that answers specific questions and addresses user intent. Use long-tail keywords and natural language in your content. Provide clear and concise answers to common questions related to your niche.

6. Fred Algorithm

  • Date: First noticed in March 2017.
  • How it works: The Fred algorithm targets websites that prioritize revenue generation over user experience and content quality. It penalizes websites with low-quality content, excessive advertising, and aggressive monetization tactics.
  • How to adjust: Adjusting to the Fred algorithm involves focusing on providing valuable, user-centric content. Avoid excessive advertising and prioritize user experience. Ensure that your website’s content is informative, relevant, and engaging.

7. Medic Algorithm (E-A-T)

  • Date: Rolled out in August 2018.
  • How it works: The Medic algorithm, also known as the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) update, emphasizes the importance of trustworthiness, expertise, and authority in determining search rankings, especially for websites related to health, finance, and other YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Medic algorithm, focus on building trust and credibility with your audience. Provide accurate and reliable information, cite reputable sources, and establish yourself or your website as an authority in your niche. Enhance your E-A-T by showcasing expertise, qualifications, and testimonials.

8. Mobile-First Indexing

  • Date: Announced in March 2018, with gradual implementation.
  • How it works: Mobile-first indexing means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking. This is because more searches now occur on mobile devices than on desktops. Websites that are mobile-friendly and provide a seamless user experience on mobile devices are prioritized in search results.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to mobile-first indexing, ensure that your website is responsive and optimized for mobile devices. Use a mobile-friendly design, prioritize mobile page speed, and ensure that all content is accessible and functional on smartphones and tablets.

9. Core Web Vitals

  • Date: Announced in May 2020, with a gradual rollout.
  • How it works: Core Web Vitals are a set of specific factors that Google considers important for user experience. These include loading performance (Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (First Input Delay), and visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift). Websites that meet or exceed Google’s benchmarks for these metrics may receive a ranking boost.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to Core Web Vitals, focus on optimizing your website’s performance in terms of loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. Implement best practices for web performance optimization, such as minimizing render-blocking resources, optimizing images, and prioritizing above-the-fold content loading.

10. Page Layout Algorithm (Top Heavy Update)

  • Date: First introduced in January 2012.
  • How it works: The Page Layout Algorithm, also known as the Top Heavy Update, penalizes websites that have too many ads above the fold. Google aims to prioritize user experience by ensuring that content is easily accessible without being obstructed by excessive advertising.
  • How to adjust: Adjusting to the Page Layout Algorithm involves optimizing your website’s layout to prioritize content over ads, especially above the fold. Ensure that users can access your main content without having to scroll past numerous ads. Balance the placement of ads with the visibility and accessibility of your content.

11. Mobile Usability Algorithm

  • Date: Announced in April 2015.
  • How it works: The Mobile Usability Algorithm focuses on ensuring that websites provide a positive user experience on mobile devices. It evaluates factors such as font size, tap targets, and mobile viewport configuration to determine if a website is mobile-friendly.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Mobile Usability Algorithm, optimize your website for mobile devices. Use responsive design techniques to ensure that your website adapts to different screen sizes. Make sure that text is legible without zooming, tap targets are appropriately sized, and mobile viewport settings are configured correctly.

12. Pigeon Algorithm

  • Date: Rolled out in July 2014.
  • How it works: The Pigeon Algorithm focuses on improving local search results by providing more relevant and accurate listings for local businesses. It aims to tie local search results more closely to traditional web search ranking signals.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Pigeon Algorithm, focus on optimizing your website and online presence for local search. Ensure that your business information is accurate and consistent across online directories and platforms. Encourage customer reviews and engagement to improve your visibility in local search results.

13. Possum Algorithm

  • Date: Rolled out in September 2016.
  • How it works: The Possum Algorithm aims to provide more diverse and relevant local search results by filtering out duplicate or similar listings that belong to the same business. It also considers the user’s location more heavily in determining which local businesses to display.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Possum Algorithm, optimize your website and Google My Business listing for local search. Ensure that your business information is unique and distinct from other businesses in your area. Focus on building authority and relevance for your target location through localized content and backlinks.

14. BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) Update

  • Date: Announced in October 2019.
  • How it works: The BERT update improves Google’s ability to understand the context of words in search queries by considering the surrounding words and phrases. It helps Google better understand the nuances and intent behind longer, more conversational search queries.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the BERT update, focus on creating content that answers specific questions and addresses user intent. Use natural language and long-tail keywords in your content to match the conversational nature of search queries. Provide clear and concise answers to common questions related to your niche.

15. Pirate Algorithm

  • Date: First introduced in August 2012.
  • How it works: The Pirate Algorithm targets websites that violate copyright laws by hosting or distributing pirated content, such as movies, music, software, or eBooks. It aims to demote or remove websites that infringe on copyright laws from search results.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Pirate Algorithm, ensure that your website does not host or distribute copyrighted content without proper authorization. Respect intellectual property rights and only use content that you have the right to use. Monitor your website for any potential copyright infringement issues and address them promptly.

16. Payday Loan Algorithm

  • Date: Rolled out in June 2013.
  • How it works: The Payday Loan Algorithm targets websites that offer payday loans, cash advances, or other high-interest financial products. It aims to reduce the visibility of websites that promote predatory lending practices or financial scams.
  • How to adjust: If your website falls into the payday loan or financial services industry, ensure that your business practices comply with relevant regulations and guidelines. Provide transparent and accurate information about your products and services. Focus on building trust with your audience and offering solutions that genuinely help consumers.

17. Doorway Page Algorithm

  • Date: Introduced in March 2015.
  • How it works: The Doorway Page Algorithm targets websites that use doorway pages to manipulate search engine rankings. Doorway pages are low-quality web pages created specifically to rank for certain keywords and redirect users to another website or page.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Doorway Page Algorithm, avoid creating doorway pages or any other deceptive tactics to manipulate search rankings. Focus on creating high-quality, unique content that provides value to your audience. Ensure that each page on your website serves a genuine purpose and offers valuable information or resources.

18. Knowledge Graph

  • Date: Introduced in May 2012.
  • How it works: The Knowledge Graph is not a traditional ranking algorithm but rather a knowledge base used to enhance search results with semantic search information gathered from various sources. It aims to provide users with direct answers to their queries and rich information panels containing facts, images, and other relevant data.
  • How to adjust: To optimize the Knowledge Graph, focus on providing clear and structured information on your website. Use schema markup to help search engines understand the content and context of your pages. Create authoritative and informative content that addresses common questions and topics related to your niche.

19. Neural Matching

  • Date: Introduced in October 2018.
  • How it works: Neural Matching is a machine learning algorithm that helps Google better understand the meaning and context of search queries, even if they don’t contain exact keywords. It allows Google to connect search queries with relevant content that may not include the exact keywords used in the search.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to Neural Matching, focus on creating comprehensive and relevant content that addresses a wide range of topics and user intents. Use natural language and incorporate related keywords and phrases to improve the contextuality of your content. Monitor your website’s performance in search results and adapt your content strategy based on user engagement and feedback.

20. Mobile-Friendly Update (Mobilegeddon)

  • Date: Rolled out in April 2015.
  • How it works: The Mobile-Friendly Update, also known as Mobilegeddon, prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. It aims to improve the mobile user experience by favoring websites that are optimized for viewing and usability on smartphones and tablets.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Mobile-Friendly Update, ensure that your website is responsive and optimized for mobile devices. Use a mobile-friendly design, prioritize mobile page speed, and ensure that all content is accessible and functional on smartphones and tablets.

21. Freshness Algorithm

  • Date: Introduced in November 2011.
  • How it works: The Freshness Algorithm prioritizes recent and up-to-date content in search results, especially for queries related to trending topics, news, and events. It aims to provide users with the most relevant and timely information available.
  • How to adjust: To adjust to the Freshness Algorithm, regularly update your website with new content and keep existing content current and relevant. Focus on creating fresh, timely, and informative content that addresses current trends, news, and events in your niche.

22. Core Algorithm Updates

  • Date: Ongoing, with major updates several times a year.
  • How it works: Core Algorithm Updates are broad updates that can impact search results across various industries and verticals. They typically involve changes to Google’s ranking criteria and algorithms, aiming to improve search quality, relevance, and user experience.
  • How to adjust: Adjusting to Core Algorithm Updates requires monitoring your website’s performance in search results, analyzing changes in rankings and traffic, and adapting your SEO strategy accordingly. Focus on providing high-quality, relevant content, and adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to maintain a strong online presence.

23. Snippet Algorithm (Featured Snippets)

  • Date: Introduced in 2014.
  • How it works: The Snippet Algorithm determines which content appears in featured snippets, the highlighted information boxes displayed at the top of some search results pages. Featured snippets aim to provide users with quick answers to their queries without needing to click through to a website.
  • How to adjust: To optimize for featured snippets, structure your content in a way that answers common questions concisely and clearly. Use headers, lists, and tables to organize information, and provide direct answers to frequently asked questions related to your content. Monitor your content’s performance in featured snippets and refine your strategy based on results.

24. SafeSearch Algorithm

  • Date: Introduced in 2009, with ongoing updates.
  • How it works: The SafeSearch Algorithm aims to filter out explicit or inappropriate content from search results, especially for users who have enabled SafeSearch filtering. It helps maintain a family-friendly and safe browsing experience by removing adult content, violence, and other potentially offensive material.
  • How to adjust: To ensure your content complies with the SafeSearch Algorithm, avoid publishing explicit or adult content on your website. Use appropriate language and imagery, and follow community guidelines and best practices for content moderation. Regularly review and update your content to maintain a safe and inclusive online environment.

25. Caffeine Update

  • Date: Rolled out in June 2010.
  • How it works: The Caffeine Update restructured how Google’s indexing system works, allowing for faster and more efficient crawling and indexing of web pages. It aimed to provide fresher search results by updating the index continuously and in real-time.
  • How to adjust: Adjusting to the Caffeine Update involves ensuring that your website is regularly updated with fresh and relevant content. Focus on providing valuable information that reflects current trends and developments in your industry. Monitor your website’s indexing status and crawlability using Google Search Console.

26. HTTPS Ranking Boost

  • Date: Announced in August 2014, with gradual implementation.
  • How it works: The HTTPS Ranking Boost is a minor ranking signal that gives a slight boost to websites using HTTPS encryption. It aims to promote a more secure and trustworthy browsing experience by encouraging website owners to secure their connections with SSL/TLS certificates.
  • How to adjust: To benefit from the HTTPS Ranking Boost, migrate your website to HTTPS by installing an SSL/TLS certificate. Update internal links and resources to use HTTPS URLs, and set up proper 301 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS. Monitor your website for any mixed content issues or security vulnerabilities.

27. Broad Core Updates

  • Date: Rolled out periodically, with noticeable impact on search results.
  • How it works: Broad Core Updates are significant adjustments to Google’s search algorithms that affect how content is ranked and displayed in search results. These updates aim to improve the overall quality and relevance of search results for users.
  • How to adjust: Adjusting to Broad Core Updates requires focusing on providing high-quality, relevant content that aligns with Google’s search quality guidelines. Monitor changes in your website’s rankings and traffic after each update, and make adjustments to your content and SEO strategy as needed.

28. Pay Per Click (PPC) Quality Score

  • Date: Introduced as part of Google Ads.
  • How it works: While not a traditional organic search algorithm, the PPC Quality Score affects the cost and placement of ads on Google search results pages. It considers factors like ad relevance, landing page experience, and expected click-through rate to determine the quality and effectiveness of ads.
  • How to adjust: To improve your PPC Quality Score, focus on creating highly relevant ad copy and landing pages that align with user intent. Use targeted keywords, compelling ad copy, and clear calls-to-action to increase ad relevance and engagement. Continuously monitor and optimize your ad campaigns to maintain a high Quality Score.

29. Discover Algorithm

  • Date: Introduced in 2017.
  • How it works: The Discover Algorithm powers Google Discover, a feature that surfaces personalized content recommendations on mobile devices. It uses machine learning to analyze user behavior and interests, delivering relevant articles, videos, and other content directly to users’ home screens.
  • How to adjust: To appear in Google Discover, focus on creating high-quality, engaging content that resonates with your target audience. Optimize your content for user intent and mobile experience, and use descriptive titles and high-quality images to capture attention. Monitor performance metrics in Google Analytics to identify trends and topics that resonate with your audience.

30. Autocomplete Algorithm

  • Date: Implemented as part of Google’s search functionality.
  • How it works: The Autocomplete Algorithm predicts and suggests search queries based on real-time data, user history, and popular trends. It helps users find information faster by providing suggested search terms as they type in the search bar.
  • How to adjust: While you can’t directly influence the Autocomplete Algorithm, you can optimize your content to align with popular search queries and topics. Conduct keyword research to identify common search terms and incorporate them naturally into your content. Monitor autocomplete suggestions related to your industry and adjust your content strategy accordingly.

How do Google Algorithms Work?

So, how do these algorithms decide which websites to show? Well, they consider many factors, including:

  • Relevance: How closely does the content match what the user is searching for?
  • Quality: Is the content well-written, accurate, and trustworthy?
  • Authority: How credible is the website? Is it a reliable source of information?
  • User Experience: Is the website easy to navigate and does it load quickly?
  • Freshness: Is the content up-to-date and relevant to current trends or events?

Tips for Appeasing Google Algorithms

Now that we know a bit about Google algorithms, how can we make sure our website gets noticed? Here are some tips:

  1. Create High-Quality Content: Write original, informative content that adds value to your audience.
  2. Use Relevant Keywords: Research and use keywords that your target audience is likely to search for.
  3. Optimize for User Experience: Make sure your website is easy to navigate and loads quickly on all devices.
  4. Earn Backlinks: Focus on getting quality backlinks from other reputable websites in your niche.
  5. Stay Up-to-Date: Keep an eye on Google’s updates and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Diving Deeper into Google Algorithms: A Closer Look

Now that we have a basic understanding of Google algorithms, let’s delve deeper into some key aspects and additional factors that influence how websites are ranked in search results.

1. Mobile-Friendliness


With more and more people using smartphones to browse the internet, Google introduced mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. Websites that are optimized for mobile devices tend to rank higher in mobile search results. This means having a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes and loads quickly on mobile devices.

2. Page Speed

Page Speed
Page Speed

Nobody likes waiting for a website to load, especially on a slow internet connection. That’s why page speed is another important factor for Google algorithms. Websites that load quickly are more likely to rank higher in search results. To improve page speed, optimize images, minify CSS and JavaScript files, and consider using a content delivery network (CDN).

3. Secure HTTPS Connection

HTTPS Connection
HTTPS Connection

Google wants to keep its users safe online, so it gives preference to websites that use a secure HTTPS connection. Websites with HTTPS encrypt data transmitted between the user’s browser and the website’s server, protecting against hackers and ensuring privacy. If your website doesn’t have HTTPS, consider obtaining an SSL certificate to make the switch.

4. User Engagement Metrics

Google algorithms also take into account user engagement metrics to determine the quality of a website. Metrics like bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave a website after viewing only one page) and dwell time (how long visitors spend on a website) can indicate whether users find the content valuable and engaging. To improve these metrics, focus on creating engaging content that keeps visitors on your website longer.

5. Local SEO

Local SEO
Local SEO

For businesses that serve a local area, appearing in local search results is crucial. Google algorithms consider factors like the user’s location, relevance, and prominence when determining which local businesses to show in search results. To improve your local SEO, optimize your Google My Business listing, get positive reviews from satisfied customers, and ensure your business information is accurate and consistent across the web.

6. Social Signals

While Google has stated that social signals (such as the number of likes, shares, and comments on social media) are not direct ranking factors, there is evidence to suggest that they can indirectly influence search rankings. Social media can help increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and attract backlinks from other websites – all of which can positively impact your search rankings.

7. E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness

Google wants to ensure that the content it presents to users is reliable and trustworthy. That’s why it introduced the concept of E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Websites that demonstrate expertise in their subject matter, have authority in their industry, and are perceived as trustworthy by users are more likely to rank higher in search results. To improve your E-A-T, focus on creating high-quality content, building authority in your niche, and establishing trust with your audience.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How often does Google update its algorithms?

Google updates its algorithms frequently, with major updates occurring several times a year. However, minor updates happen almost daily.

Can I pay Google to improve my website’s ranking?

No, Google does not accept payment to improve website rankings. Rankings are determined based on relevance, quality, and other factors outlined in Google’s algorithms.

Why does my website still not rank well even after following SEO best practices?

SEO is a long-term strategy, and results may take time to show. Additionally, competition, industry trends, and algorithm updates can all impact rankings.

Do I need to submit my website to Google to be indexed?

No, Google automatically discovers and indexes new websites through its web crawling process. However, submitting a sitemap through Google Search Console can help expedite the indexing process.


Google algorithms are complex and constantly evolving, but understanding the key factors that influence search rankings can help you improve your website’s visibility online. By focusing on creating high-quality content, optimizing for mobile devices, ensuring a secure connection, and engaging with your audience, you can increase your chances of ranking higher in Google search results and driving more organic traffic to your website. Stay informed about updates and best practices in SEO to stay ahead of the curve and continue growing your online presence.

Page SpeedHigh
Secure HTTPSHigh
User EngagementHigh
Local SEOMedium
Social SignalsMedium

This table summarizes the importance of various factors in Google algorithms for ranking websites in search results. Remember to prioritize creating valuable content and providing a positive user experience to improve your website’s performance in search rankings.

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