Google’s SEO Algorithm History

There are a lot of things going on right now that can cause your traffic to be disrupted. What I've covered below:

There is presently a rollout of the December link spam upgrade.
The rollout of the December helpful content upgrade is currently underway.
There is irrational random volatility, and many websites are experiencing unexpected traffic losses.

Google changes from 2022 and dates of significant SERP turbulence: December 2022

Google released the December 2022 Link Spam Update on December 14, 2022.
now uses SpamBrain for links can identify websites receiving unnatural links as well as websites referring to unnatural sites
Will render those links' effects ineffective (as opposed to penalizing for them)
Rollout will take two weeks.
Google said that starting on December 6, 2022, subjects will appear in search results as filter bubbles.
30 November 2022 The December 2022 Helpful Content Update is already available and will roll out over the course of up to two weeks. There has been little impact reported as of December 14. However, with so much going on with Google's search results at the moment, it can be challenging for websites to determine if they have been affected.
Google search results for US searches in English are now continuous scroll (no individual pages) on desktop as of 

4 December 2022 The public might now access OpenAI's ChatGPT this week. I've already used it numerous times to conduct searches for which I would often use Google. I anticipate a decline in site visitors overall.

Nov. 20, 2022

No update has been announced for November 15, 2022. 
3 November 2022 Ranking changes are a topic of much online discussion. Numerous owners of specialty websites have seen some profits.
On November 1st, 2022, Google included a Lens search option from the desktop homepage. Sites that rely on picture search may be impacted by this.

Oct. 20, 2022

Google released the October 2022 spam upgrade on October 19–21, 2022. They provided a link to a document outlining SpamBrain, their AI spam filtering program. Spam Brain is adept at combating "behaviors that aim to narrowly escape breaching [their] quality requirements, but are still manipulative in nature," according to the authors. One of the instances mentioned is being able to tell whether product reviews are actually hands-on evaluations or just updated product descriptions. Numerous sites were severely damaged by this upgrade. As of November 7, I believe that this modification was caused by SpamBrain being more adept at recognizing content that violates Google's quality standards. This filter might be removed by disavowing. Read more here.
October 18, 2022 - There was no officially declared update, but several of the sites we watch saw enormous gains, and we have heard rumors of sites suffering significant losses. Some claim that Google's index has far fewer pages now. It's possible that Google changed the way it indexes information. Or perhaps Google's helpful content classifier is at work here.

September 12, 2022 Released the September 2022 core update. The rollout could take 2 weeks to complete.

August 25, 2022:
Google’s helpful content update is live! It was preannounced last week. So far, the Semrush sensor is not reporting any significant SERP turbulence. We anticipate this will be a very large and impactful change in the SEO world.

May 2022 Core Update Releasing for Google Search

Several times per year, we make substantial improvements to our overall ranking processes, which we refer to as core updates. Core updates are designed to increase the overall relevancy of our search results and make them more helpful and useful for everyone. Today, we're releasing our May 2022 core update. It will take about 1-2 weeks to fully roll out.

The November 16th 2021 Confrimed

Core Update is now rolling out live. As is typical with these updates, it will typically take about one to two weeks to fully roll out.

Page Experience Update — June 25, 2021

After multiple delays, Google started rolling out the Page Experience Update on June 25th, announcing that the rollout would continue through August 2021. This update included Core Web Vitals and impacted both organic results and News results (including Top Stories).

Spam Updates — June 23, 2021

Google released two spam updates, on June 23rd and June 28th. It was unclear how the two updates were connected or what specifically was impacted. While specific sites showed significant impacts, there was no clear impact on overall rankings volatility.

June 2021 Core Update — June 2, 2021

In an unprecedented move, Google simultaneously announced the (apparently connected) June and July 2021 Core Updates. The June Core Update reportedly rolled out from June 2-12, peaking in MozCast at a temperature of 107.3°F on June 3rd.

Rank tracking tools and webmaster chatter suggested a significant update, with MozCast measuring 101°F, but no update was confirmed by Google. Some industry analysts suggested the changes were rolled back the next day and may have been temporary.

Google Glitch — August 10, 2020


SEOs reported massive ranking changes for a few hours on August 10, which then seemed to disappear. Google later confirmed a glitch in their indexing systems. MozCast registered 97°F the following day (August 11), but it's unclear if this event was related.

Google Bug Fix — June 22, 2020


Rank-tracking tools showed heavy flux, with MozCast reaching 96°F. While no algorithm update was confirmed, a Google rep confirmed an indexing bug affecting Disqus comments that would be fixed during this time period.

May 2020 Core Update — May 4, 2020


Google announced another Core Update (the second of 2020), which caused heavy rankings flux from about May 4-6. Peaking at 113°, it measured on MozCast as the second-highest Core Update after the August 2018 "Medic" update.

COVID-19 Pandemic — March 11, 2020


While not an algorithm update, per se, COVID-19 dramatically shifted consumer search behavior. The WHO pandemic declaration on March 11th seemed to be a pivotal turning point. In March on MozCast, 16 out of 31 days topped 90°F, and rankings were in high flux well into April and May.

Google’s SEO algorithm history in complete order from 2015 to present time in July 2017. As you know Google uses multiple algorithms in each search query. I’ve gone out of the way to publish a list so my clients will have an understanding. A complete list of 2018 and 2019.

2019 Updates

Site Diversity Update — June 6, 2019


Google pre-announced a “site diversity” update, claiming it would improve situations where sites had more than two organic listings. Moz data showed that, while the update did marginally improve SERPs with 3-5 duplicate sites on page one, the impact was relatively small.

June 2019 Core Update — June 3, 2019


Google pre-announced a “core” update, but with limited details. Sites impacted in previous core updates seem to have been affected, in some cases, and some major UK publishers reported heavy losses. On average, the impact was smaller than the August “Medic” update, as measured by MozCast.

Indexing Bugs — May 23, 2019


Two days in a row, Google confirmed indexing bugs. The first bug reportedly was preventing new content from being properly indexed. MozCast confirmed unusually high SERP flux from May 23-25 (peaking on the 23rd), but it’s unclear if this was directly related to the bugs.

Deindexing Bug — April 5, 2019


Google confirmed a bug that dropped pages from the search index around the weekend of April 5th. Moz data suggested drops on April 5th and 7th, with about 4% of stable URLs falling off of page one. Most sites recovered soon after.

March 2019 Core Update — March 12, 2019


Google confirmed a “core” update, stating it was the third major core update since they began using that label. MozCast hit a peak of 101.2°F, a bit below March 1st temperatures. No specific details were given about the nature of the update.

19-result SERPs — March 1, 2019


For one day, Google showed anomalous page-1 counts, with up to 19 organic results. These appeared to be related to In-depth Articles, which disappeared entirely on March 6. MozCast reached 108.2°F, but it’s unclear how much of this was due to the temporary boost in organic counts.

Unnamed Update — February 6, 2019


After a relatively quiet December and January, tracking tools detected heavy ranking flux, with MozCast reaching 103.4°F.