2022 Updates

September 2022 Core Update — September 28, 2022


On September 12, Google began rolling out its second core algorithm update this year. Like most updates, Google announced that the rollout for this broad core update would take a couple of weeks to complete. The core update in September 2019 reportedly felt weaker to many SEOs and webmasters and many said it did not have as big of an impact as previous core updates. If your site is negatively impacted by the core update, Google suggests some overall advice that you should focus on your content.

May 2022 Core Update — May 25, 2022


On May 25, Google began rolling out its first broad core algorithm update this year. The May 2022 core update seems much more significant than the November 2021 core update. Unlike the November 2021 core update, where the timing for that update was not the best, i.e. right during the busiest online shopping season, this update was scheduled a lot better for retailers.

Google Analytics 4 Update (GA4) — Coming July 2023


Google first released news of the update in October 2022 and new properties are automatically converted to GA4 but Universal Analytics will officially be deprecated on July 1, 2023 so be sure to update your website’s code before then or you could lose analytical data.

2021 Updates

2020 Updates

Unnamed Update — December 17, 2020


One day after Google announced the end of the December Core Update rollout, it was measured moderately-high rankings flux at 99°F. It was unclear whether this was the last hurrah of that rollout or a separate, medium-sized algorithm update.

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. It is confirmed 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.

January 2020 Core Update — January 13, 2020


Google rolled another core update showing heavy flux across three days and a high temperature of 97°F, in line with the previous three core updates (but smaller than the August 2018 “Medic” core update).

2019 Updates

International BERT Roll-out — December 9, 2019


Google confirmed that the BERT natural language processing algorithm was rolling out internationally, in 70 languages. This announcement came after speculation from the SEO community, and the exact timing of the roll-out is unclear.

BERT Update — October 22, 2019


Google upgraded their algorithm and underlying hardware to support the BERT natural language processing (NLP) model. BERT helps Google better interpret natural language searches and understand context.

2018 Updates

“Medic” Core Update — August 1, 2018


Google confirmed a “broad core algorithm update,” with wide reports of massive impact. It rolled out over the period of about a week, but peaked on August 1-2. This update seemed to disproportionately affect sites in the health and wellness vertical, although large-scale impact was seen in all verticals.

Mobile-First Index Roll-out — March 26, 2018


Google announced that the mobile-first index was finally “rolling out.” Since the index has been in testing for many months, and Google has suggested they are migrating sites gradually, it’s unclear how much impact this specific roll-out had on the overall index. Webmaster should begin to see notifications within Google Search Console.

Zero-result SERP Test — March 14, 2018


On a small set of Knowledge Cards, including some time/date queries and unit conversion calculators, Google started displaying zero organic results and a “Show all results” button. A week later, Google stopped this test, but we believe it is an important sign of things to come.

“Brackets” Core Update — March 8, 2018


Google confirmed a “core” update on March 7th, but volatility spiked as early as March 4th, with a second spike on March 8th, and continued for almost two weeks. This may have been multiple updates or one prolonged, rolling update. The “Brackets” name was coined by Glenn Gabe; no details were provided by Google.

Unnamed Update — February 20, 2018


Rankings showed a spike in volatility (across a number of tools) around February 20th, which quickly settled down, sometimes signalling a targeted algorithm update. Google did not confirm any update in this time period.

2017 Updates

“Maccabees” Update — December 14, 2017


Chatter and several tools showed ranking volatility around December 14th. Barry Schwartz named this the “Maccabees” update, but Google would only confirm that several small updates had happened in the general timeline. Pre-holiday updates tend to get more attention (and are generally rarer) due to their disruptive effect on e-commerce.

Featured Snippet Drop — October 27, 2017


Over a period of a few days from October 27-31, there was a substantial drop in Featured Snippets. This co-occurred with a jump in Knowledge Panels, as Google seemed to add many panels for broad terms and objects (“travel”, “toilet”, “web design”, etc.). Some of these panels disappeared around December 15.

Unnamed Update — September 27, 2017


Algorithm trackers (including MozCast) and webmaster chatter spotted increasing flux starting around September 25th, which seemed to spike on the 27th, after a period of relative calm. No update was officially confirmed.

2016 Updates

Unnamed Update — November 10, 2016


November 10th and another on the 18th. Industry chatter was high during both periods, with some suggesting that the second spike was a reversal of the first update. Google has not confirmed either event. Many people reported bad dates in SERPs during the same time period, but it’s unclear whether this was causal or just a coincidence.