Google Algorithm – Timeline

You may already know a fair bit about SEO, but we want to run through a few of the major changes that have occurred – focusing on Google – to highlight just how precarious a job it can be putting together a successful SEO strategy. We only need to venture back five years to see the shake up that has occurred in the industry, and we hope this goes a long way to proving that not just anyone should be taking care of your website when it comes to SEO.

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This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather should give you insight to the primary trends.

Google Mobilegeddon 2015

2015 – Mobilegeddon

In 2015 the shape of the web changed. Whilst for years web owners had been making their websites more user-friendly on mobile devices, ‘Mobilegeddon’ deemed it a necessity rather than a nice touch. Websites not compatible with a range of devices saw rankings plummet. This was a further focus on design that for many years had been confined to a rather broad ‘For the user’ philosophy.

2014 – Pigeon

Named after homing pigeons, this update was introduced in order to improve local search results. Google wanted users to have immediate access to relevant searches in their surrounding area, and this honed in on relevant and real businesses and locales. Forever changing the way SEO strategists approached their work, this seemingly small yet profound move by Google saw another major step towards user-based rankings.

local search on Google Maps
Google Semantics search

2013 – Hummingbird

Despite there being big changes to Google’s algorithm both before and since the introduction of Hummingbird, few if any have represented the power and intelligence behind the search engine’s ranking system. This implementation, named for its precision and speed, focussed on the web’s semantics – i.e., the meaning behind words and how synonyms affected a keyword. Here we saw Google thinking like a human, and it was a big step forward following the 2011 Panda update that looked to weed out poor content.

2012 – Penguin

Penguin was the follow-on from Panda, where links rather than content were the focus. A major part of SEO work up until this stage had focused on gaining links to a website at all costs. This had a profound effect on rankings, and web owners knew a myriad of ways to garner attention. However, this all became redundant when Google’s algorithm began discerning what was a legitimate link (i.e. one not bought, and that was a positive reference on the content, legitimacy and field of the recipient website).

Ahrefs backlink checker SEO website data
online magazine content is king

2011 – Panda

Panda was perhaps the first of the major changes. Whilst there had been a few notable moves by Google before this, Panda caused the biggest stir in the industry, with the face of SEO – and how strategies needed to be formed – changing. This was good news for the user, but bad news for those who had looked to dupe Google with quantitative keywords rather than quality.