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Google Algorithm – updates

Most updates are not noticed. Google occasionally makes major algorithm changes that have a significant impact on the SERP’s as well as the way SEO think about their content.

Fred March 8, 2017

intrusive Interstitials update May 2017

If your interstitials are not clear, spammy or difficult to dismiss, your mobile page could be devalued. Google now indexes mobile first, so this penalty could be very costly.

Interstitials can make your content more difficult to find. For example, content-covering pop-ups that users have to close in order to read the rest of the content.

Here are some examples of ads Google has previously penalized

Splash pages interrupt users as they navigate between pages, or before they reach your homepage.

Newwindow pop usps and Welcome mats

It is difficult to close overlay modals

Pop ups and intrusive lightbox ads

Use non-intrusive interstitials to display any information that is required by law to keep users informed or restrict content should be continued. You can use pop-ups to verify age or notify users about cookie usage.

Other pop-ups, such as banner ads and slide ins, take up a fair amount of screen space but are easy to remove.

Google does not devalue interstitials that appear when you move from SERP to site page.

Mobile Don’t


RankBrain was not a ranking signal. It was a way to process search queries. It’s designed to find the best match for search queries that are not yet known to Google.

Search queries that are new account for between 10 and 15%. These are search terms that have never been used before.

RankBrain uses machine learning to find the best match even when the quarry isn’t clear.

RankBrain uses a variety of databases based upon people, places, and things to seed its machine learning process.

These words are then divided into word vectors, and given an address. Similar words have similar addresses.

Google returns many related results when it processes an unknown query. Google’s search engine refines its results over time based on user interactions.


Google has given Panda the official title for an algorithm update to lower the number of low-quality content and to reward compelling, unique content in the SERPs.

Google Panda assigns quality classifications to pages. You can improve your quality ranking by updating pages with low-quality content and adding high quality content.

Penguin 2012 
Google released a webspam update in 2012, which was known as Penguin. This update was designed to target link span, and other manipulative links building practices.

Link volume was a bigger factor in determining the score of a webpage when it was crawled, index and analyzed by Google before the Penguin update.

Google’s Panda algorithm was extended to Penguin in its war against low-quality content. Penguin helped to combat the growing trend of black-hat link building, which was affecting search results. The algorithm was designed to give users more control and decrease the effectiveness of various black hat link-building techniques.

Penguin does not deal with the site’s outgoing links.

It was more than 3% of all search results when it was first launched in April 2012. Penguin 2.0 was launched in May 2013, and it affected 2.3% of all queries.

Google Penguin 2.0: May 22, 2013

This version was more advanced and had a greater impact on search results.

Penguin 2.0 had an impact on around 2.3 percent English queries.

This Penguin update was also the first to examine the website’s homepage and top-level categories pages in order to find evidence of link spam.

Google Penguin 2.1: October 4, 2013

On October 4, 2011, Penguin 2.0 (2.1), was the only update. It was only affected by about 1% of queries.

Although there was no explanation from Google, data suggests the 2.1 data refresh also increased on how deep Penguin looked at a website. It crawled deeper to determine if spammy links were present.

Google Penguin 3.0: October 17, 2014

This was a major update even though it was called such. It allowed those who were impacted by previous updates, to emerge and recover while others who continued spammy link practices and had escaped detection of previous impacts, saw an impact.

Pierre Far, a Googler, confirmed the news via a post to his Google+ account. He said that it would take “few weeks” for the update to be fully implemented.

Far stated, in addition, that the update had an impact on less than 1% of English search queries.

Google Penguin 4.0: September 23, 2016

The final Penguin algorithm update launched almost two years after the refresh of 3.0.

This iteration saw the most significant change: Penguin was now part of the core algorithms.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that an algorithm has become part of the core. This means Google has changed the algorithm’s perception, and not the algorithm.

Penguin now runs concurrently with core and evaluates websites in real-time. This allowed you to see the immediate results of your link-building or remediation efforts.

The Penguin’s new Penguin wasn’t stingy in handing out penalty links based on their value, but instead devalued them. This contrasts with the previous Penguin iterations where the negative was punished.

However, backlinks can still be penalized in algorithmic ways according to research and personal experience.

This belief is supported by data released by SEO professionals and algorithmic downgrades that were lifted through disavow file after Penguin 4.0.

HummingbirdFall 2013.

Results page for personal and intimate searches

The basics of SEO were much the same back in 2013 as they are now.

The goal was to create great content, earn links rather than buying them, and answer people’s questions.

Hummingbird Search used to give you exact results. This is a problem because the results wouldn’t give you any insight or answers to your query.

Hummingbird’s latest update was a significant step forward in understanding the context of a search query.

The knowledge graphs were born.

The Hummingbird update had two main objectives.

Conversational Search

Human Search

Foundations of Voice Search

Local search optimization

Hummingbird was a significant advancement in Google’s search technology. It was responsible for approximately 90% of all searches around the world.

PigeonLaunched in Summer 2014

Google’s Pigeon update affected and created a better. search experience for local businesses and information pertaining thereto.

This algorithm was designed to provide better local search results. It rewards local businesses with strong organic presence and better visibility in traditional searches, similar to what a business might have seen in Google Maps.


Google uses a new technology called BERT, which it introduced in 2018. BERT stands to represent bidirectional encoder representations of transformers. This refers to models which process search queries in relation to all words in a sentence.

By looking at the words before and after a word, BERT models can determine the correct meaning. This will allow for a more complete understanding of queries than processing each word in turn.

Google claims that BERT is used only for 1/10 of US searches. This is because BERT is too complex to be compatible with Google’s hardware. It is reserved for longer conversations or searches in which prepositions such as for and to matter a lot of the meaning.

This allows you to search in a natural way while still being able understand the context of what you are searching for.

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