Do you know what the Google Penguin and Panda updates are?  How about Fred?

  • Do you know the exact dates of the latest Google algorithm updates are?
  • Is your site vulnerable to being penalised?
  • Does your website have a Google Penalty?

Google Algorithm Ch-Ch-Changes Explained



If you find yourself Googling the exact dates of Google’s Algorithm changes regularly, then you will find the outline of the changes below useful.  I have tried to keep the Google updates information as simple and easy to understand as possible.  Google makes hundreds of changes to their algorithm every year, so deciphering the impact of these changes on a website can be complicated.  For that reason I have kept the list of updates only to the most important Google algorithm updates.

Penguin and Panda: The two updates that changed SEO


Two of the biggest updates: Penguin and Panda have changed the search landscape beyond all conception, particularly in the last two years.  Improving a website’s search visibility in Google is now focused strongly on creating quality content, acquiring high quality links, and engaging your visitors.

Scalable SEO tactics employed by low quality, unscrupulous SEO agencies of the past, have shown all too often to have resulted in algorithmic and sometimes manual penalties.


March 8th 2017 – The Fred Update

fred-fish-update-googleGary Illyes joked that all updates from now on will be called Fred; the name was then reported by Barry Schwartz and this algorithm update was later confirmed by Google.  Gary Illyes said that the reason certain sites got hit was contained within the Google Webmaster Guidelines.


October 6, 2016 – Penguin 4 – Phase 1

Penguin 4, phase 2 rolled out in October and was said to last for around 2 weeks.

May 12th, 2016 – Mobile Friendly Update

Google rolled out a further ranking signal boost in May to benefit mobile friendly websites.

February 23rd, 2016 – Four Google Ads Introduced

Google introduced an extra paid advert to many of the most commercial SERPs and removed the right hand column ads completely.  The effects were stark on mobile, where most of the of the search results above the fold were now adverts.

January 8th, 2016 – Core Algorithm Update


Lots of SEOs reported seeing large ranking fluctuations on January 8th, with speculation that this was part of the forethcoming Penguin update.  Google however, stated that this was not Penguin Related, but was infact part of a “Core search ranking update“.


26th October, 2015 – RankBrain

rank-brainGoogle Revealed that it had been using it new artificial intelligence machine learning ‘RankBrain’ to help rank its search results in October 2015.  From this Bloomberg Article Greg Corrado said that Rankbrain had become the third most important ranking factor within its algorithm.

Learn More about Rank Brain

18th-19th July, 2015 – Panda 4.2

Panda-updatePanda 4.2 was announced by Google to start rolling out on the 18th July and is said to affect ~2%–3% of English speaking search queries.  10 months after Panda 4.1, this latest update is being rolled out very slowly.  It is expected organic rankings will start to slowly improve for people who have made the right changes since the last update.

Learn More about Panda 4.2

3rd May, 2015 – The ‘Quality Update’

phantomIn the aftermath of the much publicised ‘mobilegeddon’, there was a much quieter update on the 5th May that was nicknamed the ‘phantom’ update.  Search Engine Land updated the name to the more descriptive “quality update”.  Google admitted that they had changed with this update how they assessed content quality.

Learn More about the Quality Update

22nd April, 2015 – ‘Mobilegeddon’

mobilegeddon“Mobilegeddon” was the nickname given by some to Google’s mobile update that was designed to favour mobile friendly sites over those that were not mobile friendly.  Google reported a 4.7% shift in mobile friendly sites following the update.  The update wasn’t quite as apocolyptic as many SEOs believed it would be, but it highlighted Google’s belief in optimisation for mobile devices.

Learn More about Mobilegeddon

4th February, 2015 – Unnamed Update

ecommerceThe unnamed update.  Many SEOs saw some major changes in the SERPs on the 4th February and speculated that this was an eCommerce update.  Google did not officially announce an update.

Learn More about the Unnamed Updated



17th October, 2014 – Penguin 3.0

penguinThe release of Penguin 3.0 in October over a year after Penguin 2.1.  The update, although widely anticipated to be bad news for many only affected <1% of English searches.

Learn More about Penguin 3.0

23rd September, 2014 – Panda 4.1


Panda 4.1 was a refinement of the Panda filter that penalised thin and low quality content.  3-5% of searches were affected.  The update was supposed to enable smaller and middle sized websites to rank better, if they had been previously unfairly penalised.

Learn More about Panda 4.1

28th August, 2014 – Authorship Removed

After the thumbnail authorship photos were removed from the SERPs on the 28th June, it was clear that Google were unhappy with the concept of Authorship.  Authorship was subsequently dropped entirely from the SERPs a month after, on the 28th of August.

Learn More about the removal of Authorship

6th August, 2014 – HTTPS/SSL Update


Google announced on the 6th August that HTTPS would become a ranking factor (although a fairly minor one) within its search algorithm.

Learn More about the HTTPS/SSL Update

24th July, 2014 – Pigeon

pigeon The Google Pigeon update shook up the way Google handled local results.  Google claimed that Pigeon increased ties with its core algorithm.

Learn More about the Google Pigeon Update

19th May, 2014 – Panda 4.0


The Google Panda update, named after one of its key engineers focused on filtering out low quality content from the SERPs.  ~7.5% of English search queries were affected with this major refresh and algorithm update.

Learn More about Panda 4.0


4th October, 2013 – Penguin 2.1

penguinPenguin 2.1 was a data update to the Penguin algorithm.  Changes were believed to be moderate at the time of the release and not as far reaching as Penguin 2.0.

Learn More about Penguin 2.1

30th August, 2013 – Hummingbird


With the Hummingbird update, Google’s goal was to better understand the user’s query through synonyms and particularly for the onset of Google voice search.

Learn More about Hummingbird


22nd May, 2013 – Penguin 2.0


Google claimed that Penguin 2.0 affected ~2.3% of English US search queries.

Learn More about Penguin 2.0



Do you think your website has a Google penalty?  


Contact me below and I will audit your site.  Or use my Free SEO Audit Tool and get an instant assessment.

Contact Chris





Published by Chris

Chris is a London SEO Consultant working as an SEO Account Director for Blue 449, part of Publicis Groupe.

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