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Google Search Update

The Google Search Ranking Team makes hundreds of changes to Google Search each year. In 2018 the changes to Google Search amounted to almost 9 search updates per day (Google reported 3,234 updates in total). The year 2018 compared with 2009, almost ten years in between, Google made 8 times the number of updates more in 2018. And so too does other search engines like YouTube search (also by Google), Bing, Ask! and Yahoo.

Google Search

Most of the day-to-day changes by the Google Search Ranking Team to Google Search algorithms are minor changes to give a better search experience, that may have some impact on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, occasionally Google make major core algorithmic update to Google Search, such as the Google Panda update initial released 2011 (rolled out separately from the core algorithm) and the Google Penguin update initial released 2012 (rolled out separately from the core algorithm but later in 2016 become part of the core search engine ranking algorithm). These updates have a significant impact on SEO, i.e. a significant impact on how your website is scored and ranked online.

Miklagárd as a leading search marketer, follows closely when major Google Search updates happened and promptly shift direction to make changes in rankings and organic website traffic, to ultimately improve your websites search Google SEO.

Below, is a list of the major Google Search algorithmic changes that have had the most significant impact on search.


May 2020 Core Update —  May 4

  • Google has rolled out another core update. Their recommendations are similar to previous core updates that periodically go live from time to time. Read more about Google Core updates here.

Featured Snippet Deduplication —  January 22

  • Featured Snippets’ URLs will no longer appear as conventional organic results. This is in line with Google’s view that Featured Snippets are promoted organic results. This update has affected both rank tracking and click-through-rates.

January 2020 Core Update —  January 13

  • Google has rolled out another core update. Their recommendations are similar to previous core updates that periodically go live from time to time. Read more about Google Core updates here.


BERT Update —  October 22

  • Google has updated their algorithm and hardware to support BERT. BERT is a natural language processing model (NLP model) that helps Google interpet natural language searches better, and promotes understanding context more accurately.

September 2019 Core Update —  September 24

  • Google has rolled out another core update that seems to be impacting sites that were previously affected by other core updates. The effect of this update is high, yet Google has not provided much details.

Site Diversity Update  —  June 6

  • Google’s site diversity update means that there is now a limit on the number of SERPs that show up from a single website. The limit is now a maximum of two pages from the same website that can appear in the search result page.

June 2019 Core Update  —  June 3

  • On June 3, 2019 Google tweeted that “June 2019 Core Update” is now rolled out. There has been limited details about what this update actually effects. But according to Google this is a broad update targetting several various issues.

Indexing Bugs  —  May 23

  • This update is related to fixing indexing bugs that might have prevented content from indexing properly. This should be now resolved with this update.

Deindexing Bug  —  April 5

  • Most sites have recovered after this update. Google confirmed that a bug was causing pages to be dropped from the search index.

March 2019 Core Update  —  March 12

  • Google confirmed a “core” update, claiming it was the third major core update. There are no specific details about this update.



“Medic” Core Update  —  August 1

  • On their twitter Google released a broad core algorithm update. This update had a massive impact on many websites within the health and wellness sectors. The focus here is on Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trust – Google is getting better at recognising helpful content for the searchers. Many medical sites have been down-ranked against more authoritative sources.

Chrome Security Warnings (Full Site)  —  July 24

  • Google state that security is one of their core principles, therefore after two years from the first warning Google is marking all sites not encryptted with HTTPS as “not secure”. The aim of this update is to make it easier to know which sites are safe or not. All sites not encryptted were affected by this update.
  • A milestone for Chrome security: marking HTTP as “not secure”

Mobile Speed Update  —  July 9

  • The mobile speed update affects only moblie webpages with slow speed. This update considers page speed as a ranking factor, however, Google claimed that even a slow page with relavnt content can still rank high.
  • Using page speed in mobile search ranking

Video Carousels  —  June 14

  • Videos that rank in organic like thumbnails anymore, this update has replaced them with a video carousel. This has caused changes to previously organically ranking vidoes. Yet the SERP has shows more video results.

Snippet Length Drop  —  May 13

  • Google has for a few month allowed longer display snippets containing upwards of 300 characters. Google has rollled back this limit to the previous one that allows only 150-160 characters.

Mobile-First Index Roll-out  —  March 26, 2018

  • Google rolled out the Mobile-First Index which has been in testing for a couple month. Google has started graduallly migrating sites, yet it is unclear what impact size this would have. Google claimed that indexing this way is independent from having a mobile-friendly assessment.
  • Rolling out mobile-first indexing

Zero-result SERP Test  —  March 14

  • Google began showing zero organic results on a small set of cards, i.e. time/date quereies, unit conversion calculators, etc. 

“Brackets” Core Update  —  March 8

  • This updated focuses on content quality, i.e. assessing content quality over extended time periods, checking against if the author is an expert, is the website trustworthy. Many deceptive and distruptive sites were affected by this update (even pages that had links to site with weak content were affected.

Other Major Updates


Google Panda — February 23, 2011

  • This updated targetted content. High quality websites were ranked higher, while low-quality sites receded. Amongest the factors that this updated focused on included, thin content, duplicate content and lack of authority.

Google Penguin — April, 2012

  • This update was focused on discovering sites that are spamming the search results, by either buying or obtaining links in aims of boosting Google ranking only. This update affected all sites that did not remove all the badlinks – removing them actually gives the site the chance to regain its rank.

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