In 2014, Google is keeping us on our toes with quite a few updates to their search algorithms and made several announcements which affect all websites. Below you’ll find a complete timeline of major updates to search results, Analytics, Webmaster Tools, AdWords and more. Being aware of all of the updates is important when analyzing changes in search traffic and advertising performance. If you see anything we missed, please feel free to leave a comment below!

Google ScreenshotFebruary 6, 2014

“Top Heavy” Page Layout Update

This was an update to the “Top Heavy Layout” update first announced way back in 2012. This update to the search algorithm penalizes sites that show too many ads at the top, blocking immediate access to the content below. Ironically, Google search results would meet these criteria with a lot of ads at the top of the page.

Google Updates Its Page Layout Algorithm To Go After Sites “Top Heavy” With Ads – Search Engine Land

April 1, 2014

AdBirds Announcement

Google announces the revolutionary new avian driven advertisement delivery system. ;)

What is AdBirds? New Feature Flying in on April 1, 2014. – Ironistic

May 16, 2014

Payday Loan 2.0

This update was designed to weed out “very spammy queries” from search results. This update was applied to search results globally, not just in the US.

Official: Google Payday Loan Algorithm 2.0 Launched: Targets “Very Spammy Queries” – Search Engine Land

May 19, 2014

Panda 4.0 (Panda Update 26)

This update attempts to remove sites with poor content from search results.

Google Begins Rolling Out Panda 4.0 Now – Search Engine Land

June 12, 2014

Payday Loan 3.0

This update targets spammy search queries such as payday loans, casinos, and prescription drugs.

Google Launching Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0 Targeting Spammy Queries This Week – Search Engine Land

Google’s Payday Loan Algorithm 3.0 Rolling Out Now – Search Engine Land

June 28, 2014

No More Google Authorship PhotosNo More Authorship Photos

Google removed the once highly touted authorship photos from search results. This removed the visual benefit of using authorship to increase click through rates to authored content. (Google has since eliminated authorship entirely.)

Google Announces the End of Author Photos in Search: What You Should Know – Moz

July 24, 2014

Pigeon (not the official Google name)

The Pigeon update was a major Google algorithm update. The update re-balanced the hundreds of factors that influence Google search positioning. This update primarily affected local search terms and led to fewer clicks and referrals from local search for small local businesses. Large directories such as Yelp seem to have benefited most from this update.

Google “Pigeon” Updates Local Search Algorithm With Stronger Ties To Web Search Signal – Search Engine Land

August 6, 2014

SSL HTTPSSSL Certificate (HTTPS) Update

Google is now using the presence of an SSL certificate as a significant positive ranking factor for all websites. You can ream more about it in our Easy SEO Tips & Tricks post. All websites should have a security certificate on them. Give us a call if you need one!

HTTPS as a ranking signal – Google

August 28, 2014

No More Google AuthorshipNo More Authorship

“Authorship markup is no longer supported in web search.” ~Google
It’s as simple as that. It’s gone. No more. Sianara. Adios. Goodbye, Authorship. Those of us that used it to greatly improve search rankings and click-through rates will miss you dearly. Everyone else will rejoice.

Authorship in web search – Google

September 10, 2014

Benchmarking Returns to Analytics

The new section in Google Analytics for benchmarking reports allows you to compare your business among 1600 industry categories, 1250 markets and 7 size buckets.

Google Analytics Benchmarking Returns! – Ironistic

September 23, 2014

Panda 4.1

This small update to the original Panda algorithm that evaluates the quality of on-page content. Panda evaluates the trustworthiness, expertise, and accuracy of the actual content of you site to determine search engine positioning. If you have quality content with accurate information that is well organized, you should not be negatively affected by this update.

Panda 4.1: The Devil Is in the Aggregate – Moz

little caesars In the News Google SearchOctober 1, 2014

“In The News” Box

Google no longer lists only “traditional” news site in the News search results. You will now see sites like Wikipedia and Reddit appearing more frequently in these results.

Google’s “In The News” Box Now Lists More Than Traditional News Sites – Search Engine Land

October 17, 2014

Penguin 3.0

Like previous Penguin updates, the 3.0 update aims to reduce spam in search results. 1% of search queries were affected by Penguin 3.0.

Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year – Search Engine Land

October 21, 2014

Pirate 2.0

After taking some heat for not doing enough to combat online piracy, Google has updated the algorithm that filters out results on websites that have been accused of hosting or facilitating copyright infringement.

After More Than Two Years, Google Finally Releasing New “Pirate Update” To Fight Piracy – Search Engine Land

November 27, 2014 and December 2-6, 2014

Penguin 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4

I’m lumping all of these updates together because they all did essentially the same thing and Google is changing how they release updates to a more continuous process. It may be difficult to keep track of additional Penguin updates in the future. The Penguin updates are additional modifications to Google’s search spam filters. If you’re not link or keyword spamming, you are likely unaffected by these updates.

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