List of Important Google Algorithms Updates every SEO must be aware of!

Everyday Google algorithm is updated at least thrice a day as claimed by people working in Google. When you do Search Engine optimization (SEO) for a website, it is important that you are aware of the important Google algorithm updates and follow the best practices in the industry to get your SEO going in the right track.

Here are the list of important Google algorithm updates that every SEO agency in Dubai (and even worldwide) should be aware of!

Google Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird (Released about 30th August 2013)

Hummingbird is an intelligent Google algorithm that is able to judge the context of the user’s search query rather than blindly matching the keywords and hence is able to determine what the user is trying to find out. The pages matching the meaning of the user’s search query will rank well than pages containing few keywords entered in the query. Google launched this algorithm update to show better results to answer a user’s search query swiftly. With hummingbird update you need to concentrate on creating more original pages in you site that can “answer” search engine queries to rank better than your competitors. This also paves way for you to focus more on long tail keywords in your content.

More details about Google Humming bird can be found here.

Google Mobilegeddon (Released about 21st April 2015)

google mobile friendly update
Mobilegeddon gives ranking priority to sites that can adapt well to all devices like mobile and laptop as it gives a good user experience. Search rankings from desktop devices were not affected during the update.Only the mobile unfriendly sites were hit during the update when users search from mobile devices. With the rise of mobile device users every year, this update stressed that you should focus on visitors browsing using all devices rather than just satisfy the desktop users. With mobile first indexing, you need to compulsorily make sure that your website can serve mobile and tablet users as well if you want to avoid losing organic visitors. More details about the algorithm can be found here

Google Panda (Released around February 2011)

Google Panda Algorithm

Google Panda lowered the rank of thin content websites and the sites using content farms. It increased the ranking of websites with superior original and useful content. The algorithm hates sites with content that doesn’t add value to a user’s search query, for example – sites with too many ads, content copied from other sites, keyword stuffing. It is important that you avoid these things in your site to safeguard your site from being hit by the Google Panda algorithm and follow the guidelines to build a high quality site.

Google Penguin (Released around 24th April 2012)

Google penguin algorithm

Backlinks were considered as the backbone of SEO. Google released the Penguin algorithm update to penalize websites that buy or have an unnatural backlink profile in order to influence the search engine rankings. It is a good thing that such an algorithm update was released, so the website owners can now focus on improving the content quality to provide a good user experience rather than just creating numerous useless backlinks that wont even bring traffic to their site! Here are the types of backlinks violating Google webmaster guidelines that you should avoid. It is best to follow white hat practices that will prove beneficial for your site as well as your users. Penguin algorithm has gone through many updates and now works real time and is integrated into the core of Google search algorithm.

Google Pigeon (Released around 24th July 2014)

google pigeon algorithm

Google Pigeon is the code name given to one of Google‘s local search algorithm updates. This update was released on July 24, 2014. The update is aimed to increase the ranking of local listing in a search. The changes will also affect the search results shown in Google Maps along with the regular Google search results.

Google Pigeon update was rolled out with the intent of increasing the rankings of local listings in Google search results and also google maps. It emphasized on providing more accurate and useful local search results to improve the user experience to find the best match within his current physical location. This update is a boon for users as well as local businesses. Possum update” is an unconfirmed Google update released around 1st September 2016 which impacted local search results.

Google Payday Update (Released around 11th June 2013)

Google payday loan update

Payday Loan Update was released to cleanup the search results for spammy queries. Low quality web sites that used black hat SEO techniques to improve their rankings for spammy queries with large search volumes with the intent of generating organic traffic to their money sites were hit by the update. More details about the algorithm update can be found here.

Google’s Pirate Update (Released around August 2012)

Google Pirate Update

Google Pirate update was released to filter out websites with copyright infringement complaints (reviewed by Google) from the search engine results. Complaints are filed through their Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) system . The filter is updated frequently to give a chance to the penalized website to correct the copyright issues.

Google EMD Update (Released around September 2012)

google emd algorithm update

As per Matt Cutts, the former head of Google web spam team, Google’s “Exact Match Domain” update was released to prevent thin content, low quality websites to rank well in search engine results just because their domain name matches the user’s search query. It made website owners to understand that content is more important than just buying a domain name containing the target keywords with the intent of ranking well in Google.

Top Heavy update (Released around January 2012)

Top heavy update

Google page layout algorithm penalizes websites that have too much ads and less useful content. It refreshed the page layout algorithm with the “Top Heavy” update which penalizes websites with too many ads on the top of the landing page that distracts the user or makes it difficult from him to find the information he actually came looking for. This update emphasizes that web pages serving ads should have an optimal ads : content ratio to provide a good user experience.

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty (Released around 10th January 2017)

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty


The definition of interstitial is “some advertisement that is displayed while a page you had clicked on is loading”. Google says that this penalty is applied on websites that show up intrusive popups blocking the content when a user lands in the web page through Google from a mobile device as it is a bad user experience for a searcher. Users should be able to access content easily all devices.

Types of interstitials that will be penalized are:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been in-lined underneath the fold.

Types of interstitials that will not be penalized are :

  • Interstitials that are used for a legal obligation like cookie usage or age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and can be closed easily.

These are all the major Google algorithm updates. Check the Official Google Webmaster Central blog to keep up to date with the new changes announced to help your website rank better in search results.