Google: the king, the reigning champ, the go-to for any question from “what time does the Chargers game start?” to “how do I write content for an inbound marketing strategy?”

And as we all know, the boss makes the rules. These rules come in the form of Google's search algorithms, which can make or break a digital marketer hoping to gain organic traffic. These algorithm updates are sometimes small, sometimes large, sometimes announced, sometimes not.

All the complexity and guesswork when it comes to these algorithms can be overwhelming, but if you want to understand Google's algorithm updates and what they mean for you, here's what we're talking about. . . 



“From the Florida update on through Austin, Panda and Penguin, there has been direct and effective action taken to stop unethical third party action skewing search results.”

To kick things off, let's take a look at the changes that have been made since what was essentially the beginning of Google. This timeline helps us to see the major points of each update, and makes it easy to see update trends, like the most recent ones focused on mobile users.


Google Algorithm Change History via MOZ

“For search marketers, knowing the dates of these Google updates can help explain changes in rankings and organic website traffic and ultimately improve search engine optimization.”

If you checked out the timeline and immediately found yourself asking more questions, they'll be answered here. This in depth, extensive page contains every important update that could impact your search results. Check out the quick main points of each update, or dig further by exploring the provided update-specific links!

The Google Fred Update: Why It Matters and What to Do via WORDSTREAM

“the primary factor behind Fred was quality – specifically, how aggressive monetization tactics used by some sites were, in Google’s view, negatively impacting the experience of its users.”

Let's take a closer look at one of Google's most recent updates. In early March, the “Fred” update went into effect, with little notice to marketers, sending them into a panic upon seeing their traffic suddenly shoot down. So what caused this problem? Check out this article to see what exactly the Fred update did, what it means for you, and how to react!

A brief history of Google’s most important local search updates via Search Engine Land

“Google’s continuous updating can hit local businesses as hard as anyone. Every tweak and modification to its algorithm could adversely impact their search ranking or even prevent them from appearing on the first page of search results for targeted queries.”

When it comes to local brick-and-mortar business, Google's algorithm updates can be especially critical to understand. As we all know, it's the era of going local, buying local, spending local, etc. So what happens if those local businesses cannot figure out how to land on the first page of a Google search? Bad News! Here are the updates that have affected local SEO the most, from 2005 to the present!

Should Google be more transparent with its updates? via Search Engine Watch

“ After all, what’s the point of a punishment if you don’t know what you’re being punished for?”

All this talk of algorithm updates should make it abundantly clear why they are so important to digital marketers. The Fred update alone affected hundreds of websites, causing a huge drop in organic search, and leaving marketers in a frenzy. So does Google have a responsibility to notify us when a major update is taking place? Here are some things to consider when pondering Google's transparency.


How Google Algorithm Updates Can Get You Blacklisted via Neil Patel

Wondering how all these complicated updates actually affect your site and what you can do about it? In this video, Neil explains exactly how your site can get in trouble based on the algorithms! Luckily he also provides plenty of suggestions and advice on how to not let this happen. Check it out!



Marie Haynes on Google Penalties via Experts on the Wire

Learn all about Google Algorithms and the penalties they can cause you to receive from an expert herself! Marie Haynes is a specialist in Google Penalties and Technical SEO, who is here to explain major updates and how to respond to them, as well as provide some insight into the future!


This blog post is part of Your Definitive Guide to Lead Generation blog series.

Your visibility on Google search pages can be an important part of lead generation, to get more advice on how to enhance your practices, check out our free Introduction to Lead Generation guide!


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Originally published November 8, 2017, updated November 14, 2017
Tags: lead generation SEO Awareness Digital Marketing