It’s no secret that Google’s search algorithm changes are an ongoing process with major updates occurring up to 10 times each year. So it should come as no surprise that this “tradition” will continue in 2018. In fact, there can be 500 to 600 changes in the Google search algorithm, albeit most of them are minor in significance. However, major updates such as Panda or Penguin will have more significant impacts to be aware of.

The following are the 8 major changes that occurred since 2011 (ranked in alphabetical rather than chronological order):

Fred – launched on 3/8/17, as the latest update, Fred targets websites that are in violation of the webmaster guidelines prescribed by Google. The majority of these guideline violations are found among blogs that post lower quality content developed in the hopes of generating more revenues through advertisements.

Hummingbird – launched on 8/22/13 to help Google interpret searches and provide results matching the searcher’s intent rather than the terms of the individual query. The difference is that Hummingbird allows pages to rank even if the search doesn’t contain the exact keywords.

Mobile – launched on 4/21/15 and commonly referred to as “Mobilegeddon”, it ranks mobile-friendly websites atop the mobile SERP’s whereas those that aren’t optimized for mobile are dramatically down-ranked or filtered out completely.

Panda – launched on 2/24/11 as a filter, it was incorporated as part of the algorithmic core in 1/16. Panda assigns “quality scores” to websites then uses them as a ranking factor. With Panda’s frequent rollouts, penalties and recovers occur much quicker.

Penguin – launched on 4/24/12, Penguin’s objective involves down-ranking websites whose links are manipulative in nature. Unlike Panda, Penguin works in real time (i.e. links that are irrelevant or spam and contain anchor text that is over-optimized).

Pigeon – launched on 7/24/14 and affects searches based on user location. Pigeon created a closer link between the local and core algorithms. Consequently, the more traditional SEO factors are utilized for local search ranking results.

Possum – launched on 9/1/16 to ensure that local search results vary based on the location of the person searching. For example, the closer a person lives to a business, the greater the likelihood that they will see it among their local search results.

RankBrain – launched on 10/26/15 as part of Hummingbird (see above). This machine learning system assists Google in understanding the meaning behind search queries. It also serves the best matched results of those queries.

Despite constant changes in the algorithms for search, content are king and organic or Whitehat techniques stay relevant when you are looking for successful SEO and digital marketing.