Top Google Algorithm Changes of 2014

Each year, Google makes about half a thousand changes to their famous algorithm, the mathematical apparatus that determines what their search engine turns up for a query. Though not all these changes are noteworthy to search engine optimizers, some of them are valuable in aligning how the date of change corresponds to changes in page rankings and website traffic.

Keeping in this spirit, we are offering the major 2014 Google updates alongside their corresponding dates. Changes in traffic at around those dates can demonstrate how those tweaks and updates effect how web pages are found on the web.

Pirate 2.0, October 21, 2014

This change mostly hit torrent sites, who were downranked in Google’s attempt to fight digital media piracy, as a follow up to the DMCA/”Pirate” update two years ago.

Penguin 3.0, October 17, 2014

This refresh of the last Penguin update (2.1) affected less than 1 percent of U.S./English queries, focusing mostly on data. The precise dating of the refresh is uncertain, and is therefore difficult to track.

“In The News” Box, October 1, 2014

Google announced that they’ve included a larger set of sites for news results, causing much higher traffic amidst major news sites.

Panda 4.1 (Google’s 27th Panda update), September 23, 2014

Clouded by a “slow rollout,” this Panda update, which changed their algorithm enough to alter 3-5 percent of searches, can’t be accurately mapped

Authorship Removed, August 28, 2014

Continuing the decision of June 28th to drop authorship photos, they have further announced they will be completely removing authorship markup. SERPs no longer included this thereafter.

HTTPS / SSL Update, August 6, 2014

Google announced they would give a bonus to secure sites, saying that added encryption would be a “lightweight” booster of rank. It was a small boost they said would increase, depending on how it works out.

Pigeon, July 24, 2014

Pigeon tied local algorithms with their core algorithm, changing how they use location cues, greatly changing local SEO.

Authorship Photo Drop, June 28, 2014

Though Google promoted authorship for Google+, John Mueller announced on June 25 they would drop all authorship photos from SERPS.

Payday Loan 3.0, June 12, 2014

This anti-spam update targeted spam-like queries, as an update to their Payday Loan 2.0 which targets specific sites.

Panda 4.0 (#26), May 19, 2014

This major Panda update may have changed their algorithm and included a data refresh. 7.5 percent of English-language queries were impacted.

Payday Loan 2.0, May 16, 2014

This algorithm focuses on spammy queries.

Unnamed Update, March 24, 2014

This change was detected rather than announced, and its nature is uncertain.

Page Layout #3, February 6, 2014

This refreshed Google’s page layout algorithm which penalizes sites with excessive ads.

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