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SEO Optimization

Google Ranking Updates

by Vaughn Aubuchon

This page offers a summary
Google "SERP-update" list.


Google Updates Summary

Of Pandas and Penguins

2003 -

Historical Updates


* Panda 1.0 - Feb. 23, 2011

Panda 2.0 - Apr. 11, 2011
Panda 2.1 - May 10, 2011
Panda 2.2 - Jun. 16, 2011
Panda 2.3 - Jul. 23, 2011
Panda 2.4 - Aug. 12, 2011
Panda 2.5 - Sep. 28, 2011

Panda 3.0 - Oct. 19, 2011
Panda 3.1 - Nov. 18, 2011

Panda focuses on

Poor user experience
due to poor content
--- Thin sites
--- Copied articles
One page can affect entire site.
--- remove 10 to 30% of your worst pages
--- Quality raters involved

(clean up formatting, consistency, required pages, dump lousy pages, etc.)


Panda 3.2 - Jan. 26, 2012
Panda 3.3 - Feb. 28, 2012
Panda 3.4 - Mar. 23, 2012

Too many ads
--- Above the fold
--- Overall
Too little content above the fold
OOP implemented
Future Panda updates to be folded into algo - will be less noticeable.

* Penguin 1 - Apr. 24, 2012 (3.1%)

Penguin 2 (1.1) - May 26, 2012 (0.1%)

Penguin 3 (1.2) - Oct. 5, 2012 --(0.3%)

Penguin focuses on

Bad links
--- Paid links, unnatural links
--- Exact match anchor text
--- No doorway pages


Penguin 4 (2.0) - May 22, 2013 (2.3%)


* Hummingbird - Aug. 30, 2013

Synonyms, context, meaning, intent

Penguin 5 (2.1) - Oct. 4, 2013 (1.0%)

This site was unaffected until May 1, 2014.


Panda 4.0 - May 2014

Something kicked this site to the ground on May 1.
1/2 of traffic is gone.
Far worse ads are being served.
AdSense income was cut by 80%.
I don't know why.

Panda 4.1 - Sep. 2014


Penguin 6 (3.0) - Oct. x, 2014 (5.0%)

Full rollout Date Guess = Oct. 8, 2014


250 - 550


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Historical Google Updates
Partial Google Algorithm Update List


May 2010 - Mayday Update



Aug. 2009 - Caffeine Update

Feb.. 2009 -
Vince Update



April 2008 - Dewey Update



June 2007 - Buffy Update

Daily ranking.
-30 penalty noticed, -350 penalty noticed, -950 penalty noticed



Unnatural links are anathema to Google SEO - minus 30 SERP positions penalty


Everflux is the rule of the day - many small updates.

July - July 27 update, plus quality landing page update

Sandbox (aging delay) alive and well
July 27th update

Feb. 2006 - Big Daddy update



Novem. 5 - Jagger 3 Update
Nov.10 all done - settling out.

October 26 - Jagger 2 Update

More SERPs churning - OLD is highly valued.


October 17 - Jagger 1 Update
Recent Links, Recent Sites = SERP Turmoil
Google has declared war on phony (low-grade) links
Devaluation of reciprocal from unrelated-subject pages
Devaluation of links from "link houses"
Devaluation of purchased links

Big allinanchor changes
Large companies thrust to the top of the SERPs
Sandbox update
Lowering of sandbox threshold - re-sandboxing
Too fast link accumulation - links acquired too quickly
Deeper sandbox (longer - over 6 months)
Some suggest that one's site really had to be online before January 2004, in order to avoid all ramifications of the sandbox.

2005 - Sept. - the "False" Update (Sep.22 - Big update, many changes)


2005 - May - Bourbon Update

2005 - Feb..-
Allegra Update - Feb.17, 2005, Some sites released from the sandbox, but many remain.



2004 - Feb.- Brandy Update

2004 - Jan.-
Austin Update



2003 - Nov.- Florida Update

2003 - July -
Fritz Update

2003 - June -
Esmeralda Update

2003 - May -
Dominic Update

2003 - Apr. -
Cassandra Update

2003 - Mar. -
Boston Update

"Money terms" demoted in organic SERPs


250 - 550


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Webmaster Update Philosophy
Tiptoeing on the Top of the Fence

The "Panda" Update of
February 23, 2011
(AKA "Farmer" Update, "Farm" Update)

Much is being said about the Google "Content Farm" update.
Opinions and counter opinions are rampant.
Here are some theories and conclusions that have
been advanced, by webmasters at Webmaster World.

Site Problem

Suggested Solution

1. Determine which pages were hardest hit.

Immediately drop all your "hardest hit" pages.

2. "Thin" content hit hard.

Add more original content to your pages.

3. "Article sites" are being hit hard.

Get out of the "article submission" business.

4. "Copied content" hit hard.

Eliminate all scraped, spun, and "copied content".

5. "Duplicate content" hit hard.

Use only "unique content" on EVERY page.

6. Sites with high ad-to-content ratios hit hard.

Reduce the number of ads, especially at the top of the page.

7. Sites using AdSense are NOT hit as hard (eHow).

Use AdSense on all your pages - it certainly won't hurt.

The Huge Dichotomy -
Google Search vs. Google AdSense
Whatcha Gunna Do?

To RANK WELL (in the Panda update),
Google Search wants to see
especially at the top of a page.

USER EXPERIENCE is paramount.

Google AdSense wants you to use 3 ad units, 3 link units, and 2 search units on every page. Elevendy-seven ads aren't going to help you, if your page doesn't rank, because it has TOO MANY ADS!


The other dichotomy -
Google Webmaster Tools strongly advises to speed up page load time, by eliminating javascript and "lookups".
Such as Analytics, the Ads and Google+

USER EXPERIENCE is paramount.

Google AdSense advises placing 3 ad units, 3 link units, and 2 search units on every page.

Google also advises using Google Analytics. This advice conflicts with Google Webmaster Tools, which suggests that speed is everything.


It remains to be seen, just how Google is going
to resolve these profound conflicts of interest.
For every question, I always use the "logic test".

Would it be logical for Google,
to rank websites near the top,
if those websites are serving AdSense ads?

YES. Are they doing it now? Most certainly, for eHow, which makes Google millions.
Will they do it for others in the future?

eHow, an AdSense-prominent content farm, has not only escaped Panda, they have been rewarded.

eHow is owned by Demand Media, who have been accused of creating the ultimate MFA (Made-For-AdSense) web pages.

If revenue maximization is paramount,
is this not inevitable, at some point?
It would be "common sense", if maximizing shareholder value is the primary objective.

Is AdSense money corrupting the Internet, just as lobbyist money has completely corrupted our congress?
Are we going to end up with only mega-MFA sites on page one of the SERPs?

Would it be logical for Google,
to rank websites near the top,
if those websites are
NOT serving AdSense ads?

On the other hand, it would be logical to avoid this accusation, which is easily measurable.
BUT, there is no money in it.
Is Google going to populate the top of their SERPs with websites that run Bing ads exclusively?
Now, THAT is not logical. It would be dumb.



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The Google Sandbox -
The Single-Biggest SEO Ranking Factor for New Sites
Google is clearly fighting spam by sacrificing SERP newness for higher SERP quality.

March 2004
Edited August 2006

The sandbox is alive and well.
In March 2004, Google implemented a new filter, now referred to as "The Sandbox". This new "effect" took months to notice and quantify.

The sandbox is also referred to as an "aging delay". Two aging delays have been suggested - one for link weight, and one for competitive term ranking.

The sand box only applies to highly COMPETITIVE terms, revolving around money, such as the words attorney, loans, viagra, real estate, etc. The more lucrative the keyword, the longer the wait.

Yahoo has a sandbox, as well. Opinion seems to indicate that the Yahoo aging delay is not quite as long as the Google Aging Delay.
Yahoo does seem to provide an initial boost, that will disappear after about 4 weeks.

MSN appears to have no sandbox. New sites with new pages, targeting competitive terms, can rank well very quickly (weeks) for those terms.

If you subscribe to the spam reduction theory, Google's thinking was, NO NEW SITES get good ranking, until they prove themselves.
Spammers generate thousands of new pages daily, along with millions of new links to go with them. This penalty is new-site based. Long-standing sites have no trouble ranking new pages.

Link Weight Aging Delay
Google WITHHOLDS "link juice" on new sites, by deprecating the new links, for 2-8 months. If the domain and backlinks have existed for a certain length of time (6 months?), then maybe you are OK, and escape from the sandbox.
Over time, the newly generated links are given weight, and eventually the sandbox effect is lifted.

Competitive Term Aging Delay
Google WITHHOLDS high ranking ability on new sites, for highly commercial keywords, such as loans, real estate, viagra, etc.
Eventually, the new site will rank well for the competitive keywords, and the sandbox effect is lifted. Six months is mentioned most frequently.


Two methods are currently being used to get around the Sandbox penalty for new sites.

One method is to join the Google Ad Words or Adsense program, in which case your pages get spidered in MINUTES. Your site will be checked initially with an algo or human "smell test". If you smell good, you're in. Good rankings will follow (provided of course, that you have good on-page SEO, and a few good backlinks).

I speculate that if you are a Google partner ("approved"), then you are not going to be penalized, unless you subsequently "go bad".

The second method is to buy an old domain, just for it's longevity, and old backlinks. Many have bought up old domain names for this purpose. This may work right now, but the rules will soon change again. They always do.
Good luck!

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Vaughn's Other
GOOGLE-SEO Related Pages

* Google Data Centers

Google Ranking Factors

Google Ranking Updates

Google Webmaster Forums

My Scraped Content

My Stolen Content


This is NOT A Google, Inc. Site
In no way, did this data come directly from Google, Inc.

I made this page to make it easier to check various Google ranking updates.

This page consists of a compilation of public information, commonly available on the Internet, at multiple sites, as well as public webmaster forums, and found by performing simple manual tests, using an Internet browser.
The opinions stated above are merely the often misguided personal opinions of the author.
I am not privy to any inside information.
This information is continually changing, and may not be relevant when you read it.
Although the author makes every effort to verify the information on this page, no information on this page is guaranteed to be correct, and any data contained herein may be erroneous.


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List was last updated on 2019-04-05.