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Ultimate Explanation of Google Algorithm Updates

Google Algorithm

Google claims to update its search algorithm thousands of times per year. In most cases, Google algorithm updates are too small and sometimes negligible to notice. However, every time Google introduces a fundamental change that forever disrupts the workings of SEO strategies.

This blog will cover eight of the most significant changes to search algorithms. We will analyze why these updates were introduced, how they work, and what adjustments we had to make to our SEO strategies accordingly.

1. Panda

Google Panda first launched on February 24, 2011, as part of Google’s efforts to combat black hat SEO tactics and web spam.

How Panda Works

The Panda Algorithm assigns pages a quality classification modeled after human quality ratings and incorporates them as a ranking factor. Panda’s effects were initially minor, but it was permanently incorporated into Google’s Core Algorithm in January 2016. Since then, update deployment has become more frequent, so Panda penalties and recoveries are occurring faster.


Check the site regularly for content duplication, thin content, and keyword stuffing. You’ll need a site crawler, such as SEO PowerSuite’s Website Auditor.

You can also avoid a potential penalty and create pages without the risk of keyword stuffing by using WebSite Auditor’s new Content Editor module. Content Editor examines the pages of your top competitors and makes SEO recommendations based on previously successful content in Google searches.

2. Penguin

Google officially launched the “Webspam Google Algorithm Update,” later known as the Penguin Algorithm, on April 24, 2012, which targeted link spam and manipulative Link-Building Practices.

How Penguin Works

Penguin was Google’s reaction to the growing practice of manipulating search results and rankings via black-hat link-building techniques.

This update prohibited low-effort link building, such as purchasing links from link farms and PBNs (Private Blog Networks).


To avoid the consequences of the Google Penguin update, monitor the growth of your link profile and conduct regular audits with a backlink checker such as SEO SpyGlass, Semrush, or any other.

You can find a progress graph for the growth of your link profile on the tool’s Summary dashboard. Monitor all the unusual activity that could indicate a damaging SEO attack by your competitors.

3. HummingBird

Hummingbird was another Google algorithm update released on August 22, 2013, to replace the previous Caffeine algorithm, affecting approximately 90% of Google Searches. It is a brand new engine but retains some old parts, such as Panda and Penguin.

How HummingBird Works

The Hummingbird Algorithm assists Google in better interpreting search queries and providing results that are relevant to the searcher’s goal. While keywords are an essential factor, the Hummingbird algorithm allows a page to rank for a query even if it does not contain the exact words entered by the searcher. It uses Natural Language Processing, synonyms, co-occurring terms, and latent semantic indexing.


Extend your keyword research and concentrate on the concepts underlying the keywords. Analyze related searches, synonyms, and co-occurring terms thoroughly. Google Related Searches and Google Related Questions, as well as Google Autocomplete suggestions, are included in Rank Tracker’s Keyword Research module.

Use these insights to understand better and diversify your audience’s language. You’ll win in terms of engagement and SEO if you create comprehensive content that meets searcher intent.

4. Mobile

On April 21, 2015, Google added a new algorithm to address the poor usability of mobile devices.

How Mobile Works

This subsequent mobile Google algorithm update focuses on your website’s mobile version. Google now ranks all websites according to how fast and user-friendly their mobile versions are.


Optimize your pages for mobile search by focusing on speed and usability. Google’s mobile-friendliness and page speed tests will show you which aspects of your page need to be improved.

5. RankBrain

This Google algorithm update was rolled out on October 26, 2015.

How RankBrain Works

RankBrain is a part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. It is a machine learning system that assists Google in understanding the meaning of queries and serving the best-matching search results in response to those queries.

RankBrain is responsible for customizing a user’s Google search results to go beyond a person’s search query and consider the larger context, such as synonyms, implied words, and personal search history.


With the help of competitive analysis, optimize your pages for usability and comprehensiveness. Using WebSite Auditor’s TF-IDF tool, you can discover lists of relevant terms and concepts used by many of your top competitors. Find a way to incorporate these terms into your content, and your search relevancy will increase substantially.

6. Medic

The Google Medic Update was a late 2018 Google algorithm update. While the update affected many industries, most of the affected pages were Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) pages.

How Medic Works

The Google Medic Update massively impacted medical websites and those in finance, law, and education.
The main ranking parameters of the algorithm ensure that only high-quality, authoritative, and expert material shows in search results.


There is no proven recovery plan for the Medic Update. Some SEOs recommend hiring skilled writers to add credibility to your website, while others argue that developing entities for your brand is the solution. However, if we stick to the facts, the only reliable strategy to raise your website’s authority is to expand your backlink profile.


Bert is another Google Algorithm Update that debuted on October 22, 2019. It stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.


BERT helps better to understand the context of words in searches and better match those queries with more relevant results.

This upgrade enables Google to understand more details in requests and search results.


Google advises you to create content that satisfies your search intent. If you want to optimize for BERT, aim to provide more relevant and valuable content and more of it.

8. Core Updates

The Google Core Update algorithm debuted in 2017 and is still in service.

How Core Updates Works

Google Core Updates help SEO track post-update ranking fluctuations and determine what has changed. Google Core Updates are likely enhancements to earlier Google updates or bundles of minor upgrades.


Because the consequences of Google Core Updates are frequently unknown, one thing you can do is follow SERP history for the phrases you want to target.

Launch Rank Tracker, navigate to Target Keywords > Rank Tracking > SERP Analysis, and then select Record SERP data. The program will begin tracking the top 30 SERP positions for each of your keywords.

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