Updates and changes to Google's search result algorithms in 2014.
According to John Mueller, Google rolled out over one thousand changes in 2014. Below are the most significant updates of the year.
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|#||Date||Update||Update type||Noticeable effect|
|9||Dec 22, 2014||Pigeon 2||Ranking Signals||Unspecified|
|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|
Just a few days after local results starting showing major flux in Canada, the UK, and Australia, Google confirmed that Pigeon, its local search algorithm, began rolling out in all English-speaking countries, except for India.
One noticeable effect of this second Pigeon update was a tighter radius for cities in local search results, with listings furthest from city center being dropped from local packs in many cases.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
All in all, the general search industry consensus was that this Pigeon update did not improve the local search results.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As Google's algorithms improve, search-friendly website rankings do as well. Learn about search engine optimization.