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Google Algorithm Change History

Google algorithm updates and data refreshes

Google Algorithm Updates of 2014

This year's new list of updates and changes to Google's search result algorithms - 2014.

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# Date Update Update type Noticeable effect
8 Oct 21, 2014 DMCA/Pirate 2 Ranking Signals Unspecified
7 Oct 17, 2014 Penguin 3.0 Data Refresh <1% of US English searches
6 Sep 23, 2014 Panda 4.1 Ranking Signals 3% - 5% (Location dependent)
5 Jul 24, 2014 Pigeon Ranking Signals Unspecified
4 Jun 12, 2014 Payday Loan 3.0 Ranking Signals Unspecified
3 May 20, 2014 Panda 4.0 Ranking Signals 7.5% of English searches
2 May 17, 2014 Payday Loan 2.0 Ranking Signals 0.2% of English searches
1 Feb 6, 2014 Page Layout #3 Data Refresh Unspecified

DMCA/Pirate 2: Oct 21, 2014

Ranking Signals

In an announcement made on their Public Policy Blog on Oct 17 2014, Google warned of an upcoming update to their DMCA demotion ranking signals, aka the Pirate Update.

This latest update, which began its worldwide rollout on October 21 2014, included refinements to DMCA demotion signals in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites, according to Google.

On top of the refinements made to the algorithms, Google explained that they've also begun experimenting with methods of directing searchers to legitimate sources of music and movies, rather than to torrent sites or other sources of copyright infringing material. Numerous search terms typically associated with DMCA demoted sites (download, free,watch, etc) have been removed from autocomplete and replaced with new paid ads from online media players like Netflix, Amazon, and Google Play.

Immediately following the update, the more popular torrent sites reported substantial drops in traffic, with lesser known torrent sites now rising to the top of the search results.

Further Reading

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Penguin 3.0: Oct 17, 2014

Data Refresh

On Friday, October 17, Google confirmed a fifth—and long anticipated—update to its Penguin algorithm. 3 days later, Google UK's Pierre Far elaborated from his Google Plus page that this latest Penguin update is a slow rolling refresh, expected to be completed in a few weeks time. Penguin 3.0 impacts less than 1% of English queries, and may have more or less impact in other languages.

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Panda 4.1: Sep 23, 2014

Ranking Signals

Google UK's Pierre Far announced on his personal Google Plus page that a slow rollout of an improved Panda algorithm has begun earlier in the week, and would be due to be complete the following week.

Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely

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Pigeon: Jul 24, 2014

Ranking Signals

The Pigeon Update, which began rolling out on July 24, 2014, was launched to improve local search results in Google Maps, including those alongside the regular organic listings. Google made no official comment about the local algorithm update; however, they did give the following details to Search Engine Land:

  • Local search algorithms now integrate more of Google's traditional organic web ranking signals
  • The Knowledge Graph will be showing more data related to local results
  • Distance location parameters have been somewhat altered

Google confirmed that the Pigeon Update was initially rolled out for US English searches, but indicated that they would likely not be offering more details on this or any subsequent updates to Pigeon.

Pigeon Update Aftermath

  • With the Pigeon update, came a resurgence of local pack-listings for SEO/marketing/design companies, which had stop appearing in November of 2009
  • Decline in 7-packs reported by MozCast (down ~23%) and Whitespark (down 23.4%), for notoriously spammy neighbourhoods, notably those related to real estate and DUI lawyers, among many others

All in all, the general search industry consensus was that this Pigeon update did not improve the local search results.

Further Reading

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Payday Loan 3.0: June 12, 2014

Ranking Signals

On June 12th, Google's Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that the third version of the Payday Loan algorithm was rolling out. Coming less than a month following the Payday Loans previous update, this rollout seemingly had little effect on spammy query spaces.

Cutts did specify (somewhat ambiguously) that this Payday Loans update specifically targeted spammy queries, versus spammy websites.

Further Reading

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Panda 4.0: May 20, 2014

Ranking Signals

On the same day as his Payday Loan 2.0 announcement, Matt Cutts brought news via Twitter of a Panda 4.0 update. Google stopped publically confirming refreshes to the Panda filter since the Panda Recovery Update of July 2013, and the 4.0 label offered Cutts immediately confirmed that this update wasn't just a data refresh.

  • Was rolled out in less time than the standard 10-days for typical Panda updates
  • Affects approximately 7.5% of English searches to a noticeable degree
  • Also affects other languages to differing degrees

Further Reading

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Payday Loan 2.0: May 17, 2014

Ranking Signals

On Tuesday May 20th, Google's Matt Cutts announced via Twitter that the next generation of Google's Payday Loan algorithm was rolled out over the previous weekend. This fit with the high levels of rankings flux seen by many on the 17th.

As with the original Payday Loan Algorithm rollout, this update targeted very spammy queries.

  • This update targeted pornography, online casinos, and online pharmaceutical
  • Update affected approximately 0.2% of English searches to a noticeable degree
  • Also affects other languages to differing degrees

Further Reading

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Page Layout — #3: February 6, 2014

Data refresh of the Page Layout Filter

On February 10, Google's Matt Cutts announced via Twitter that Google's Page Layout algorithm had been updated on the 6th.

As with previous refreshes of the Page Layout Algorithm, this update mostly affects websites that have excessive paid ads above the fold.

Further Reading

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See More Google Algorithm Updates by Year

As Google's algorithms improve, search-friendly website rankings do as well. Learn about search engine optimization.

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