The Future of Google – a Brief History of Its Algorithm Updates



The Future of Google – a Brief History of Its Algorithm Updatesd-tags
16 November 2020
Almost everyone uses Google on an everyday basis. Over the years, its algorithms have been numerously updated and changed to ensure that users receive search results meeting their expectations. With so many modifications, we can try to draw conclusions and answer one simple question - what’s the future of Google search engine?



Google - how does it work?

Google and its operation are based on specially developed algorithms. These are simply sets of rules and principles that allow the search engine to analyze website content and assess its quality. Consequently, Google is able to display pages in the search results in a specific order. The algorithms were created to somehow organize the online world. From the very beginning of its operation on the market, Google has been doing its best to provide users with the finest search results - algorithm updates are supposed to facilitate the task.

The most important algorithms and updates - Google over the years

  • The era of PageRank links
PageRank was the first Google algorithm that was supposed to analyze websites and assess their content. In this case, pages were ranked in accordance with the number of links leading to them. However, this algorithm was easily manipulated, therefore, Google quickly started focusing on other aspects and implementing updates.
  • The importance of content - Panda algorithm
Panda was another algorithm developed by Google. Due to the fact that content became king, this algorithm was expected to evaluate the quality of texts published on websites. Sites with duplicate content (both external and internal) and too high keyword density were penalized, whereas pages with unique, valuable, and substantive content were promoted. algorithm updates and SEO
  • Penguin algorithm and its fight against spam
Quality content still remained one of the most important Google ranking factors. However, the search engine decided to fight against spam by creating the Penguin algorithm. It focused on the number of links, or to be more precise, their increase over a given time. If Google marked it as unnatural, the website was penalized. The quality and diversity of links also became important.
  • Pirate puts an end to piracy
The Pirate algorithm was another crucial change. It was supposed to get rid of pages with illegal content. This algorithm brought many benefits to websites with quality and unique content.
  • Hummingbird algorithm - how to understand users’ intentions?
The Hummingbird algorithm, named after a lovely bird, is one of the most important indicators showing the future of the search engine. It was developed to help to understand the intentions of users entering long-tail phrases into the search engine. So, for example, when you type “where to eat a Mexican dish” into the search bar, you’ll see a list of Mexican restaurants, even though this exact phrase wasn’t used in the query. One of the new functionalities offered by Google was the possibility to access the necessary information without having to enter a page. It’s perfectly visible in the screenshot below. Hummingbird algorithm - search results display
  • Pigeon and local search
More importantly, Google started supporting local activities. The >Pigeon algorithm enabled displaying search results corresponding to the location of the user entering a given search query into Google. This update was beneficial mainly for companies with Google My Business listings and quality websites that offer local services. Local search in Pirat Google update
  • Mobilegeddon, meaning Mobile-Friendly Update
Mobilegeddon was another update of Google algorithms. It’s a common name for Mobile-Friendly Update that was created mainly due to the fact that an increasing number of users were browsing the net on mobile devices. Websites with mobile versions were supposed to be ranked higher on Google.
  • RankBrain and machine learning system
RankBrain, meaning artificial intelligence, became one of the most important Google algorithms. The machine learning system was introduced to the search engine algorithm in 2015. It was expected to analyze the meaning of the query and provide the most suitable search results. This was particularly helpful in case of long, complicated phrases entered into Google by users.
  • Possum algorithm - local SEO
The Possum algorithm was a whole series of Google algorithm updates. The search results started being determined by the actual location of the user. This was particularly precious for companies operating in a different place than the main headquarters of the enterprise.

Local SEO - Google Search results company page

  • Your Money Your Life and Medical Update
In mid-2018 Google realized that fields such as finances and health are too important to be treated like any other life areas. That’s why Medical Update was another modification that affected the operation of Google. It aimed at providing users with reliable information concerning the medical and financial industries. This solution helped many websites with quality content and the high authority of its authors.
  • Other important Core Updates
Over the next two years, we could witness the emergence of five more core updates of the Google algorithm. These were: March 2019 Core Update, June 2019 Core Update, September 2019 Core Update, January 2020 Core Update, and May 2020 Core Update. However, in their cases, Google didn’t confirm or share any details concerning the modifications. But, we can assume that the search engine still pays special attention to the UX and continues rewarding websites with valuable and quality content.
  • Google BERT Natural Language Processing Update
Google BERT is definitely the greatest update of the Google algorithm taking place in 2020. Its task is to incorporate the processing of natural language into the algorithm to provide even more accurate search results. It’s especially important in the case of long-tail keywords, natural queries entered by users, and the obtained search results. This update is particularly relevant due to the increasing popularity of voice search available in most smartphones and certain modern car models.

The takeaway

Constant modifications of Google algorithms are a complicated and continuous process. The search engine keeps updating its solutions to provide the most efficient operation and accurate search results corresponding to users’ queries. When analyzing the history of all introduced changes, we can see how Google has changed over the years. At the very beginning, it focused on the number of links leading to websites. Only then it started paying attention to the quality of content. Shortly after it, Google began its fight against spam and dishonest SEO activities. Thanks to it, we can surely say that the search engine will continue rewarding quality websites and refining its solutions. As you can see, Google strives to display pages that are really valuable for users. To achieve this objective, it’s doing its best to understand users’ intentions even more. As the phrase “content is king” is always relevant, traffic will still be generated based on the quality of the texts and the recognition of their authors. In the upcoming years, we’re likely to witness further development of machine learning and artificial intelligence. One can be stated for sure, the SEO world will certainly face a lot of challenges and unexpected updates causing havoc.
Aleksandra Siedlarz

Aleksandra Siedlarz


  1. Ugh, constant algorithm updates always scare me. Good to get to know their pattern a bit more. It kind of help to prepare for what’s coming in new updates.

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