A Simple Guide to Google Algorithm Updates

Google Algorithm Update


Google is by far the most popular search engine, and in the information age that we live in, people can learn about almost anything and feel more empowered.

So, how do the search results appear on Google?  They are all powered by Google algorithms.  These algorithms are constantly being updated.

As a search engine, Google needs to provide the best service possible which means that quality and relevant content needs to get the attention it deserves. The algorithms are constantly being updated to reflect this.

Did you know that, in fact, Google processes a whopping 3.5 billion searches per day?  Yes, 3.5 billion searches in a day which seems staggering, and at the same time, simply ingenious.

So, all this is processed with the help of Google algorithms which incorporate search engine optimization to display high-quality, original, unique and relevant results.

Some of the Google algorithm updates have some awesome names (perhaps straight out of some animation movies!).

The names of some important and popularly known Google algorithm updates are: (yes, the first four are named after fauna)

  • Google Hummingbird
  • Google Penguin Update
  • Google Panda Update
  • Google Pigeon Update
  • Fred
  • Google Mobile Friendly Update
  • Google Payday Update
  • Google Pirate Update
  • Google EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update
  • Google Top Heavy Update

So, shall we do an overview of all these?

Google Hummingbird

The Google Hummingbird brought a wonderful dimension of SEO to the forefront.  The Google Hummingbird update has been there since 2013.

It goes far beyond a traditional keyword-based search in which if you keyed in “bee hummingbird,” it will obviously display “bee hummingbird” search results.

Well, if you keyed in “smallest bird in the world” or “tiniest bird in the world,” you will find awesome wildlife photos of bee hummingbirds with relevant content.


This type of search result is known as a semantic search result.  Semantics refers to the meaning of a phrase, sentence or language in general.

So, through Google Hummingbird algorithm update, the meaning of an entire query or whatever is keyed in is taken into enormous account.

So, when people turn to the internet for help, say for example, if they would like to know about “speed limits in the US” to stay safe and plan a road trip, then Google will display semantic-based search results like what are similar queries other people key in, for example, “what is the highest speed limit in the US?”

Let us try another example.  If you would like to find out who is the mayor of New York, and key in “mayor of New York,” you will find that the current mayor is Bill de Blasio (elected in November 2013).  This type of search result was already incorporated, but the Hummingbird updates have helped enhance such semantic searches.

So, the tiny amazing hummingbird has added a whole new meaning to Google algorithm updates.

Google Penguin Update

When you are searching the internet, in the business of running a company, or part of a company, you would hope that everyone is just and sincere, online and offline.

Sadly, this might not be the case always, and Google Penguin (since April 2012) and a few other such Google algorithm updates are out there to catch those following manipulative tactics (known as black hat SEO).

If an online website is doing link-building solely to raise their search engine rankings, then it will end up spamming Google search results.  Genuine search results will be disturbed due to this.  The Penguin algorithms are designed to curb such aggressive, manipulative tactics.

This type of underhand link-building is known as link schemes, and Penguin algorithm updates seek out such link schemes.

Other manipulative tactics include keyword stuffing, over-optimization and unnatural links.  These are also curbed by Penguin algorithm updates.

Keyword stuffing (as the phrase suggests) is the intentional stuffing of keywords, in what is generally poor quality content, with the sole aim of enhancing search engine rankings.

Over-optimization is when websites try to overwhelmingly use anchor texts with keywords and similar link schemes which redirect to their own websites.

For example, consider “Introducing iPhone X and its Features” and the link to it also contains the same phrases “iPhone X-Features.”  When you click on the link, you end up going to the webpages of the same website.  Well, that may simply put you off.

Unnatural links include extreme manipulative tactics such as buying or selling links and also excessive reciprocal exchange of links with an eye to up search rankings.

So, just like penguins can take on icy terrains, the Google Penguin updates can take on manipulative tactics, the link schemes.


Google Panda Update

The Google Panda updates are there to curb poor-quality content and websites that somehow manage to be displayed prominently due to manipulative tactics.  What a welcome relief for genuine players who work with passion!

So, with the Google panda updates, you can rest be assured that websites and content that are put up with a lot of passion and care are prominently ranked.

So, just like “Kung Fu Panda”, the Google Panda algorithm update tackles and prevents poor-quality content (a form of black hat SEO) from being churned out.

In fact, there are even content farms which have indulged in these type of manipulative tactics, just so that they can make a quick buck (they eventually get caught).  These content farms indulge in nefarious activities like copying content from other websites and so on.  The Google Panda algorithm is designed to put an end to these content farms.

With the Google Panda updates, high-quality websites and content get the attention that they truly deserve.  At the same time, people searching for relevant info do not get put off by spam websites and webpages.

So, just like Kung Fu Panda, the Google Panda updates help restore peace and “keep the bad guys out.”

Google Pigeon Update

Pigeons were earlier directed to fly distances and carry post to various locations.  They were known as homing pigeons because they could fly back home when taken to a particular location.  So, now, can you guess what the Google Pigeon algorithm update is all about?

The Google Pigeon algorithm update is all about including geo-specific and local location-based search results.

For example, if you keyed in “Chinese food New York,” you would be directed to very good and popular Chinese eateries with rankings and Google map-markings.

So, the Pigeon algorithm update (since July 2014) has been mapping locations to searches to help people quickly find eateries, stores, schools, local offices and much more with Google map inputs.

Also, some weightage is being given to Yelp in the Pigeon algorithm for people searching for special services and local search results.  For example, if they are searching for dry cleaners in Chicago, they will find Yelp-linked dry cleaner search results in Chicago.

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When you hear “Fred,” perhaps “Fred” from Flintstones comes to your mind.  Maybe, another animation character “Fred” from Scoobydoo also comes to your mind.  Well, the Fred Google algorithm update is one of the most recent Google algorithm updates (since March 2017).

Fred is again another algorithm update which spells out steps to tackle manipulative tactics (black hat SEO).

Fred is designed to curb websites trying to make a quick buck by doing aggressive affiliate marketing and stuffing websites with ads.  So, websites and webpages which look more like commercials with annoying pop-ups, etc., are being brought down.

Google Mobile Friendly Update

The Google Mobile Friendly update occurred in April 2015.  This algorithm update rewards websites which are mobile friendly, i.e., responsive, and cater to almost all available devices.

So, the Google Mobile Friendly update is an incentive to ensure that your website is extremely responsive.  At the same time, making your website as responsive as possible will ensure improved revenue.

A responsive website will also help you reach out to more and more people, who prefer to quickly glance through mobile-friendly websites on their mobiles, smartphones and tablets for finding info, doing transactions and much more.


All the effort and passion which is reflected in your website may not come to the fore-front if it is not responsive enough in a world which is being bombarded by all sorts of devices.  In fact, nearly 50% of webpages viewed worldwide were from mobile devices (as of February 2017, Statista study).

Google has even introduced a mobile-friendly test (a simple Google site, a tool) in which you just have to enter a website URL to check how mobile-friendly it is (with scores).

So, the Google Mobile Friendly algorithm update is a recognition of a digital world where people are increasingly viewing websites on-the-go on mobile devices.

Google Payday Update

The Google Payday update is another Google algorithm update which curbs spam queries.  It is named after spammed “payday loan” queries.  It also targets very harmful and disturbing queries like porn queries and prevents them from appearing.  Apart from these, the Google Payday updates also stops other dangerous spam search queries results like illegal drugs and gambling.

So, the Google Payday algorithm update is another addition to make the internet safer and free from spams.

Google Pirate Update


The Google Pirate Update has quite a self-explanatory name.  Yes, it curbs internet piracy and copyright violations.  These search results violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The Google Pirate Update is there since 2012.  Google has faced a lot of flak from the entertainment industry (movies as well as music) for throwing up pirated versions.

The Google Pirate algorithm update is an attempt at tackling all sorts of internet piracy including movies and music.

So, the Google Pirate update is an equally important update which addresses concerns of piracy going unnoticed by search engines.

Google EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update

The Google Exact Match Domain Update is yet another update to prevent spam search results from showing up.  Are you not sure what Google Exact Match Domain update is all about?

Consider the search “great holiday destinations,” if this shows a URL with “great holiday destinations,” then this search result is spam-oriented and will be prevented from being displayed due to the Google Exact Match Domain update.

So, you can see that Google is trying to leave no stone unturned in its crusade against spams.

Spams can slow down the search engine, disturb genuine and quality search results from being displayed and create havoc.

So, Google is going on an all-out war to ensure that people have a very good experience, when they search for results, through their extensive algorithm updates.

Google Top Heavy Update

The Google Top Heavy Update, just like Fred, is designed to fight “top heavy” advertisements on webpages. The Google Top Heavy algorithm update is in fact exclusively launched to fight the war against top heavy ads invading and taking up internet space.

So, if websites are heavily loaded, i.e., top heavy with ads, then they can slow down Google and other search engines and can also be a nuisance to everyone.

They also come as a relief for people searching the internet for relevant and quality info.

Overall, with all the algorithm updates, Google wants to ensure that it provides the best service to all customers.

For genuine websites like yours, the Google algorithm updates help to further improve your search rankings.  The Google algorithm updates on the whole prevent spam and black hat SEO tactics from disturbing search engine results.

So, from Hummingbird to the Top Heavy algorithm updates, you can be guaranteed that they all end up further boosting the quality of search results on Google, so that it stays the best.

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