Major SEO Update of 2016 & 15:
· AdWords Shake-up — February 23, 2016
Google made major changes to AdWords, removing right-column ads entirely and rolling out 4-ad top blocks on many commercial searches. While this was a paid search update, it had significant implications for CTR for both paid and organic results, especially on competitive keywords.
· Unnamed Update — January 8, 2016
Multiple tracking tools (including MozCast) reported historically-large rankings movement, which Google later confirmed as a "core algo update". Google officially said that this was not a Penguin update, but details remain sketchy.
· Rank Brain* — October 26, 2015
Google made a major announcement, revealing that machine learning had been a part of the algorithm for months, contributing to the 3rd most influential ranking factor. *Note: This is an announcement date - we believe the actual launch was closer to spring 2015.
· Panda 4.2 (#28) — July 17, 2015
Google announced what was most likely a Panda data refresh, saying that it could take months to fully roll out. The immediate impact was unclear, and there were no clear signs of a major algorithm update.
· The Quality Update — May 3, 2015
After many reports of large-scale ranking changes, originally dubbed "Phantom 2", Google acknowledged a core algorithm change impacting "quality signals". This update seems to have had a broad impact, but Google didn't reveal any specifics about the nature of the signals involved.
· Mobile Update AKA "Mobilegeddon" — April 22, 2015
In a rare move, Google pre-announced an algorithm update, telling us that mobile rankings would differ for mobile-friendly sites starting on April 21st. The impact of this update was, in the short-term, much smaller than expected, and our data showed that algorithm flux peaked on April 22nd.
· Unnamed Update — February 4, 2015
Multiple SERP-trackers and many webmasters reported major flux in Google SERPs. Speculation ranged from an e-commerce focused update to a mobile usability update. Google did not officially confirm an update.
· Google Pigeon Update: Rolls Out To UK, Canada & Australia - The original Pigeon update aimed at providing a more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals.
· Pirate 2.0 — October 21, 2014
More than two years after the original DMCA/"Pirate" update, Google launched another update to combat software and digital media piracy. This update was highly targeted, causing dramatic drops in ranking to a relatively small group of sites.
· Penguin 3.0 — October 17, 2014
More than a year after the previous Penguin update (2.1), Google launched a Penguin refresh. This update appeared to be smaller than expected (<1% of US/English queries affected) and was probably data-only (not a new Penguin algorithm). The timing of the update was unclear, especially internationally, and Google claimed it was spread out over "weeks".
· Panda 4.1 (#27) — September 23, 2014
Google announced a significant Panda update, which included an algorithmic component. They estimated the impact at 3-5% of queries affected. Given the "slow rollout," the exact timing was unclear.
· Hummingbird — August 20, 2013
Announced on September 26th, Google suggested that the "Hummingbird" update rolled out about a month earlier. Our best guess ties it to a MozCast spike on August 20th and many reports of flux from August 20-22. Hummingbird has been compared to Caffeine, and seems to be a core algorithm update that may power changes to semantic search and the Knowledge Graph for months to come.
What’s a “search algorithm?
That’s a technical term for what you can think of as a recipe that Google uses to sort through the billions of web pages and other information it has, in order to return what it believes are the best answers.
It’s the name of the new search algorithm that Google is using, one that Google says should return better results.
No. PageRank is one of over 200 major “ingredients” that go into the Hummingbird recipe. Hummingbird looks at PageRank — how important links to a page are deemed to be — along with other factors like whether Google believes a page is of good quality, the words used on it and many other things (see our Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors for a better sense of some of these).
Why is it called Hummingbird?
Google told us the name come from being “precise and fast.”
When did Hummingbird start? Today?
Google started using Hummingbird about a month ago, it said. Google only announced the change today.
What does it mean that Hummingbird is now being used?
Think of a car built in the 1950s. It might have a great engine, but it might also be an engine that lacks things like fuel injection or be unable to use unleaded fuel. When Google switched to Hummingbird, it’s as if it dropped the old engine out of a car and put in a new one. It also did this so quickly that no one really noticed the switch.
When’s the last time Google replaced its algorithm this way?
Google struggled to recall when any type of major change like this last happened. In 2010, the “Caffeine Update” was a huge change. But that was also a change mostly meant to help Google better gather information (indexing) rather than sorting through the information. Google search chief Amit Singhal told me that perhaps 2001, when he first joined the company, was the last time the algorithm was so dramatically rewritten.
What about all these Penguin, Panda and other “updates” — haven’t those been changes to the algorithm?
Panda, Penguin and other updates were changes to parts of the old algorithm, but not an entire replacement of the whole. Think of it again like an engine. Those things were as if the engine received a new oil filter or had an improved pump put in. Hummingbird is a brand new engine, though it continues to use some of the same parts of the old, like Penguin and Panda