Google Algorithms

All about Google's algorithms

Carol-Ann Motard avatar
Written by Carol-Ann Motard
Updated over a week ago

Google defines algorithms “computer programmes designed to navigate through billions of pages, identify good clues and send the exact answer to your question.”

When these algorithms are updated it is called Google Dance as websites’ rankings have a good chance of changing on the search engine.

Below are 3 Google Algorithms you need to know to avoid or correct penalties.


Local Search Algorithm


Google Pigeon is the code name given to Google’s latest local search algorithm that came into effect on July 24, 2014. It aims to provide more relevant and accurate local search results.

The main objective of Google Pigeon is to improve user experience on geographically targeted search queries. For example, restaurants in Montreuil, dentists in Paris etc.

Google Pigeon includes updates on spell check, Knowledge Graph and Synonyms. This algorithm provides more visibility to large directories.

It is now only available in English speaking countries.


Excessive Spam Detection Algorithm


Google Penguin is a codename got an algorithm created on April 24, 2012. The update aims at decreasing search engine ranking of websites that violate Google Guidelines.

The Penguin algorithm is an anti-spam filter that catches excessive spammers and penalises websites faulty backlinking techniques.

To reserve a Penguin Penalty, that you’ve received, you have to:

  • Analyse inbound links to your website with

– Clean backlinks

– Create new links

– Contact webmasters that can delete your bad links.

Since 2012, it has been continuously updated with no definitive end date.

Pingouin 3.0 October 17, 2014

Pingouin 2.1 – October 4, 2013

Pinguin 2.0 – May 22, 2013

Pingouin 1.2 – October 5, 2012

Pingouin 1.1 May 26, 2012

Pingouin 1 – April 24, 2012


Low Quality Content Detection Algorithm


Google Panda was launched in February 2011 and owes its name to an engineer who worked on its conception: Navneet Panda.
The update aimed to lower the search engine rankings of low quality websites. Websites often affected by this algorithm include:

Review sites
Price comparison sites
Discount codes
Ecommerce websites
To reverse a Panda penalty, you have to:

Remove low quality pages or content
Remove useless or similar pages that have no added value
This algorithm has been updated almost every month since 2011:

Panda 4.2 – Between July 17, 18, 19 2015

Panda 4.1 – Between September 22 and beginning of October 2014

Panda 4.0 – May 20, 2014

Panda – July 2013

Panda 3.9.9 – January 22, 2013

Panda 3.9.8 – December 21,2012

Panda 3.9.7 – November 21, 2012

Panda 3.9.6 – November 5, 2012

Panda 3.9.3 – September 27, 2012

Panda 3.9.2 – September 18, 2012

Panda 3.9.1 – August 20, 2012

Panda 3.9 – July 24, 2012

Panda 3.8 – June 25, 2012

Panda 3.7 – June 9, 2012

Panda 3.6 – April 27, 2012

Panda 3.5 – April 19, 2012

Panda 3.4 – March 23, 2012

Panda 3.3 – February 27, 2012

Panda 3.2 – January 18, 2012

Panda 3.1 – November 18, 2011

Panda 3.0 – October 19, 2011

Panda 2.5 – September 28, 2011

Panda 2.4 – August 12, 2011 Launching in many others English-speaking countries, including France.

Panda 2.3 – July 23, 2011

Panda 2.2 – June 16, 2011

Panda 2.1 – May 10, 2011

Panda 2.0 – Avril 11,2011 Filter launching on the English version of the searc engine

Panda 1.0 – 24 février 2011 US market Launch


Local Packs and Google Maps results’ Algorithm


Google Possum is a Google algorithm update that was launched in September 2016 and has impacted local SEO. The update focuses mainly on geo-location search results on Local Search and Google Maps. .


User Intent Detection Algorithm

Launched in September 2013, the Google Hummingbird algorithm improves the quality of Google’s search results with accuracy and speed.

The Hummingbird algorithm understands the real intention behind search queries and requests of Internet users. This allows the search engine to respond more appropriately to:

  • Generic queries that have several possible meanings

  • Long tail queries, composed of more than five words

  • Unpublished requests


Natural language Detection Algorithm

The BERT algorithm (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) aims to better understand Internet users’ search queries.

Words are no longer treated one after the other but one in relation to the other in order to better discern the relationships between them. Google can now contextualise users’ search queries and understand their intentions. The results that will be configured and displayed on the SERP will therefore be more relevant.

On October 25, 2019, Google deployed an update of its BERT algorithm, the strongest in the last 5 years.

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