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Timeline of Google Search

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Timeline of Google Search

Google Search, offered by Google, is the most widely used search engine on the World Wide Web as of 2014, with over three billion searches a day. This page covers key events in the history of Google's search service.

For a history of Google the company, including all of Google's products, acquisitions, and corporate changes, see the history of Google page.

Big picture

Time period Development
1996-1997 Development of basic technology, launch of search engine
2000 Internationalization: search is launched in 13 new languages.
2001-2004 Google launches many new search categories, such as Google News, Google Books, and Google Scholar.
2002 onward The beginning of explicitly announced search algorithm updates.
2008-2010 Faster search experience for user: Google Suggest (experimental launch 2004, integrated into main search engine 2008), Google Instant (2010), and Google Instant Previews.
2005, 2009, 2012 Google starts using web histories to help in searches (2005), experimentally launches social search (2009), and launches Search Plus Your World (2012).
2009-2010 Caffeine update for faster indexing of the web and fresher and on-topic search results.
2011-2014 Google Panda (an update to some parts of Google's search algorithm) is released in 2011, with announced updates continuing till September 2014 (Panda 4.1). Stated goals include cracking down on spam, content farms, scrapers, and websites with a high ad-to-content ratio.
2012-2014 Google Penguin (an update to some parts of Google's search algorithm) is released in 2012, with the goal of concentrating on webspam. The last named update is in October 2014. Starting December 2014, Penguin moves to continuous updates (Penguin Everflux).
2012 onward Google integrates the Knowledge Graph into its search results.
2013 Google releases Google Hummingbird, an update that may enable semantic search in the future and integrate better with the Knowledge Graph.
2014 onward Google makes a major update to its algorithm for local search. The update gets the name Google Pigeon.
2015 onward Google alerts webmasters to mobile usability issues in January, and announces a major update to its search algorithm, to be rolled out starting April 21, 2015, that will heavily demote mobile-unfriendly sites for web searches on mobile devices.

Full timeline

Year Month and date (if available) Event type Event
1996 January–March Prelude Larry Page and Sergey Brin, graduate students in computer science at Stanford University, begin working on BackRub, the precursor to Google Search. Page begins work alone initially, supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, and Brin joins him shortly thereafter. The project is an outgrowth of their work on the Stanford Digital Library Project.[1][2][3][4] Web crawling begins in March.
1997 September 15 Domain The domain is registered.[5]
2000 May 9 Internationalization Google adds ten new languages: French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish.[5]
2000 September 12 Internationalization Google launches search services in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.[6]
2000 October Advertising Google AdWords launches with 350 customers.[5]
2000 December User experience Google Toolbar is released, allowing people to search without visiting the Google homepage, and also offering them more information about the webpages they visit.[5] Some commentators have argued that this marks the beginning of search engine optimization and the Google Dance.[7]
2001 July Search category Google launches Google Image Search with over 250 million images in its search database.[5]
2001 December Review Google releases its first annual Google Zeitgeist.[5]
2002 September Search category Google launches Google News.[5]
2002 September Search algorithm update Google makes the first publicly announced update to its search algorithm.[7] A number of Internet commentators view this as the death of PageRank (the name for Google's system for ranking pages) and a significant decline in the quality of Google's search results.[8][9][10]
2003 February Search algorithm update Google announces the Boston update at SES Boston.[7]
2003 April Search algorithm update Google announces the Cassandra update. The update claims to crack down on link spam, including mutual links between co-owned websites, as well as hidden text and hidden links.[7][11]
2003 May Search algorithm update Google announces the Dominic update. Commentators believed that the update affected the way backlinks were counted, and many webmasters reported new bots from Google that bounced.[7][12]
2003 June Search algorithm update Google announces what will later turn out to have been the last of its regular monthly updates. This update is called the Esmeralda update.[7][13]
2003 July Search algorithm update Google announces the Fritz update, and also a change to its update policy, as it moves towards continuous rather than batch processing of updates.[7][14][15]
2003 September Search algorithm update Google announces a "supplemental index" in order to be able to index some parts of the web more rapidly.[16] The supplemental index would eventually be scrapped.
2003 November Search algorithm update Google announces the Florida update, which commentators consider game-changing in that it completely destroyed the value of 1990s SEO tactics and ushered in a new era of search engine optimization.[17]
2003 December Search category Google launches Google Print, that would later become Google Books.[5]
2004 January Search algorithm update Google announces the Austin update, to continue with the work of combating SEO tactics that Florida had made good progress on.[7][18][19]
2004 February 17–20 Search algorithm update Google announces the Brandy update, a massive index expansion, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), increased attention to anchor text relevance, and the concept of link "neighborhoods."[7][20][21]
2004 October Search category Google launches Google Scholar, its search service for academic publications.[5]
2004 December User experience Google Suggest is introduced as a Google Labs feature.[22][23]
2005 January Search algorithm update To combat link spam, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft collectively introduce the nofollow attribute.[7][24]
2005 February 2 Search algorithm update Google announces the Allegra update, whose effects are unclear.[7][25][26]
2005 May Search algorithm update Google announces the Bourbon update.[7][27][28][29]
2005 June Webmaster tools Google allows webmasters to submit XML sitemaps via Webmaster Tools, bypassing the need for HTML sitemaps.[7][30]
2005 June User experience Google launches personalized search that automatically taps into users' web histories.[31][32]
2005 June User experience Google launches Google Mobile Web Search.[5]
2005 September Search algorithm update Although Google denies running an update, Matt Cutts clarifies that PageRank was refreshed for some pages recently (with a three-month refresh cycle) causing changes to many site ranks. Observers call this the Gilligan update.[7][33][34]
2005 September–November Search algorithm update Google announces and rolls out the Jagger update in three stages, one in September, one in October, one in November.[7][35][36]
2005 December (rollout continues till March 2006) Search algorithm update Google begins rolling out the Big Daddy update, continuing for the next few months until March 2006. The update changes URL canonization, site redirects, and related items.[7][37]
2006 May Review Google releases Google Trends to make it easy to visualize the popularity of searches over time.[5]
2007 May 16 Search algorithm update + user experience Google launches Universal Search, integrating traditional search results with results from Google News, Google Image Search, Google Video Search, and other verticals. This is believed to be a major milestone in the user experience.[5][7][38][39]
2007 June Search algorithm update The Buffy update happens. It is not considered a deliberate update, but rather an accumulation of many smaller changes.[7][40][41]
2008 March/April Search algorithm update The Dewey update seems to lead to a large-scale shuffling of results. Some observers believe that Google is pushing its own properties, such as Google Books, but evidence of this is limited.[7][42]
2008 August 25 User experience Google Suggest (later called Autocomplete), originally launched as a Labs feature in December 2004, now becomes part of Google's main site.[5][22][23]
2009 February Search algorithm update The Vince update happens. Matt Cutts calls it a minor change, but some SEO commentators consider it major.[7][43]
2009 February Webmaster tools Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! announce joint support for tags that help bots identify canonical versions of webpages without affecting human visitors.[44][45]
2009 August 10 (announced), rollout completed and made live June 8, 2010 Search algorithm update Named Caffeine, this update is announced on August 10, 2009. It promises faster crawling, expansion of the index, and a near-real-time integration of indexing and ranking.[7][46][47][48][49] The rollout is made live on June 8, 2010.[50][51][52]
2009 October 26 Search category Google introduces Social Search as a Google Labs feature.[53] The feature is expanded further in late January 2010.[54]
2009 December 7 Search category Google launches real-time search for real-time Twitter feeds, Google News, and other freshly indexed content.[7][55][56]
2010 Late April, early May Search algorithm update The update, named May Day, is an algorithm change affecting the long tail. Foreshadowing Google Panda, the update penalizes sites with large amounts of thin content.[7][57][58]
2010 September 8 User experience Google launches Google Instant, described as a search-before-you-type feature: as users are typing, Google predicts the user's whole search query (using the same technology as in Google Suggest, later called the autocomplete feature) and instantaneously shows results for the top prediction.[59][60][61] Google claims that this is estimated to save 2–5 seconds per search query.[62] SEO commentators initially believe that this will have a major effect on search engine optimization, but soon revise downward their estimate of the impact.[7][63]
2010 November 9 User experience Google launches Instant Previews, a feature where users can view previews of the ranked pages by hovering over the links in the search engine results page.[7][64][65][66]
2010 December 1 Search algorithm update Google updated its algorithm to penalize websites that provided a bad experience to users. The update was prompted by a November 26 New York Times story about a fraudulent company called DecorMyEyes that used the publicity generated by negative customer reviews to rise in the search engine rankings.[7][67][68]
2010 December Search algorithm update (announcement/confirmation) Both Google and Microsoft's Bing indicate that they use social signals, including signals from Twitter and Facebook, to rank search results.[7][69][70]
2011 January–February Search algorithm update Foreshadowing Google Panda, Google penalizes and JCPenney for the use of SEO tactics.[7][71][72]
2011 January 28 Search algorithm update Google launches its Attribution algorithm change to better sieve out websites that scrape content. Matt Cutts claims that slightly over 2% of search queries are affected, but less than 0.5% of results change noticeably.[7][73][74]
2011 February 23–24 Search algorithm update Google launches Google Panda, a major update affecting 12% of search queries. The update continues with the earlier work of cracking down on spam, content farms, scrapers, and websites with a high ad-to-content ratio.[7][75][76][77] The rollout is gradual over several months, and Panda will see many further updates.
2011 March 30 User experience, incorporation of user feedback Google launches the +1 button so that users can offer feedback on search results.[78] Commentators liken this to the like button seen on Facebook.[79][80]
2011 April 11 Search algorithm update Google rolls out Panda to all English queries worldwide (not limited to English-speaking countries) and integrates new signals into its ranking algorithm.[7][81][82]
2011 May 9 Search algorithm update Google rolls out further minor updates to Panda but does not discuss them in detail, saying they are more like Panda 2.1 than Panda 3.0.[7][83][84]
2011 June 2 Webmaster tools [7][85][86][87]
2011 June 21 Search algorithm update Google rolls out Panda 2.2.[7][88][89][90]
2011 July 23 Search algorithm update Google rolls out Panda 2.3.[7][91]
2011 August 12 Search algorithm update Google rolls out Panda 2.4, making Panda available in all languages around the world, except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.[7][92][93]
2011 August 16 User experience Google rolls out expanded sitelinks, starting with 12-pack links (but later reducing to 6-pack).[7][94][95]
2011 September 15 Webmaster tools Google rolls out pagination elements for websites to communicate to Google that various webpages are different pages of the same article.[7][96][97]
2011 September 30 Search algorithm update Google rolls out Panda 2.5.[7][98] Although the specifics of the update are unclear, a few sites gain significantly and a few others lose significantly.[99] Other minor flux updates occur on October 3, October 5 and October 13, and some commentators call these Panda 3.0 and 3.1.[7][100]
2011 October 18 User experience, SEO data Google announces that they will start encrypting all search queries for security purposes.[101] This disrupts organic keyword referral data for many websites, making search engine optimization harder.[102]
2011 November 3 Search algorithm update Google announces a Freshness update that would give priority to fresher, more recent search results, and claims this could affect 35% of search queries.[103][104][105] The algorithm largely affects time-sensitive queries. A number of sites gain and many others lose as a result of the update.[106]
2011 November 14 Search algorithm update Google announces a 10-pack of updates, and says that this begins a series of monthly announcements of packs of updates.[7][107]
2011 November 18 Search algorithm update Google releases an allegedly minor Panda update, which SEO commentators label as Panda 3.1, despite the lack of a generally agreed upon update named Panda 3.0.[7][108][109]
2012 December 2011-January 2012 (announced January 5) Search algorithm update, user experience A 30-change pack of updates, including landing-page quality detection, more relevant site-links, more rich snippets, and related-query improvements.[110]
2012 January 10 Search algorithm update, user experience Google launches Search Plus Your World, a deep integration of one's social data into search.[111][112] SEO commentators are critical of how the search results favor Google+ and push it to users, compared to more widely used social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.[113][114][115][116]
2012 January 19 Search algorithm update Google updates its algorithm to introduce a penalty for websites with too many ads "above the fold". The update has no name, but some SEOs use "Top Heavy" to describe the update.[7][117]
2012 February 27 Search algorithm update The update, codenamed Venice, was announced as part of Google's end-of-February 40-pack update. Venice seemed to give substantially increased weightage to local results (location inferred from the user's IP and other signals) for many search queries, such as those looking for businesses of various types in the vicinity.[7][118][119] On the same date, Google rolls out Panda 3.3, which it bills as a data refresh rather than an algorithm change.[120]
2012 March 23, April 19, April 27 Search algorithm update March 23: Google rolls out Panda 3.4, which is claimed to affect 1.6% of search queries.[121]
Google quietly rolls out Panda 3.5 (April 19) and Panda 3.6 (April 27), with minimal impact.[122][123]
2012 April 24 Search algorithm update Google launches its "Webspam update" which would soon become known as Google Penguin.[7][124][125][126][127]
2012 May 16 Search algorithm update Google starts rolling out Knowledge Graph, used by Google internally to store semantic relationships between objects. Google now begins displaying supplemental information about objects related to search queries on the side.[7][128][129][130]
2012 May 25 Search algorithm update Google rolls out an update of Google Penguin, variously called Penguin 1.1 and Penguin 2.[131]
2012 June–September Search algorithm update Google rolls out updates to Google Panda: 3.7 (June 8),[132][133] 3.8 (June 25),[134][135] 3.9 (July 24),[136] 3.9.1 (August 20),[7] and 3.9.2 (September 18).[7]
2012 August 10 Search algorithm update Google announces that it will start penalizing websites with repeat copyright infringements, possibly as measured by DMCA takedown requests.[137] Some SEO commentators call this the Pirate update.[138]
2012 September 27 Search algorithm update Google rolls out a major update to Google Panda (the update is to the underlying algorithm, rather than merely being a data refresh), that would be dubbed Panda 4.0, but SEO commentators decide to simply call it Panda #20. The change is estimated to have affected 2.4% of search queries.[7][139]
2012 September 27 Search algorithm update Google announces changes in the way it handles Exact-Match Domains. The change is estimated to have affected 0.6% of search queries.[140][141]
2012 October 5 Search algorithm update Google releases minor tweaks to Penguin, affecting about 0.3% of search queries. SEO commentators call it Penguin #3, following the lead of Panda in ditching the use of 1.x notation in favor of labeling updates by number.[7][142][143]
2012-13 November 2012-January 2013 Search algorithm update Google releases updates to Google Panda: #21 (November 5, affecting 1.1% of queries), #22 (November 21, data refresh only), #23 (December 21, data refresh only, affecting 1.3% of queries), and #24 (January 22, affecting 1.2% of queries).[7]
2012 December 4 Search algorithm update Google adds Knowledge Graph to non-English queries, and says that the change goes beyond translation and also adds enhanced Knowledge Graph capabilities.[7][144][145]
2013 March 13–14 Search algorithm update Google rolls out Panda #25. Remarks by Matt Cutts at SMX West give people the impression that this is the last update to Panda as a distinct entity and it will thereafter be integrated into the core algorithm.[7][146][147] On June 11, 2013, Cutts clarifies that Panda updates roll out over 10-day periods every month and are not continuous.[148]
2013 May 22 Search algorithm update Google rolls out a new version of Google Penguin that it calls Penguin 2.0, which SEO commentators call Penguin #4.[149][150]
2013 August 6 User experience Google adds a new feature called "in-depth articles" in its search results to feature long-form content of long-lasting value.[7][151][152]
2013 August 21–22 (approximate date for rollout), September 26 (announcement) Search algorithm update Google releases Google Hummingbird, a core algorithm update that may enable more semantic search and more effective use of the Knowledge Graph in the future.[7][153][154]
2013 October 4 Search algorithm update Google announces what it calls Penguin 2.1, its fifth version of Penguin, claiming to affect 1% of searches. The effect seems minor.[7][155][156]
2014 May 16 Search algorithm update Payday Loans 2.0 algorithm change is purely low quality external link related and over-optimization. This specifically goes after high search, spammy queries such as “Payday Loans”. Google is trying to devalue sites that perform in link buying and other black hat methods to game the algorithm. [157]
2014 May 20 Search algorithm update Panda 4.0 was implemented to devalue sites that contained poor / low quality content. This has been an ongoing battle that Google has been chipping away at for years. Google has claimed that the algorithm change has impacted roughly 7.5% of all search queries.[158]
2014 July 24 Search algorithm update Google announces the rollout of Google Pigeon, a major update to its search algorithm for "local" searches such as searches related to events or businesses near one. The Pigeon update gives more weight to various search signals to deliver more relevant local results.[7][159][160]
2014 August 6 Search algorithm update Google announces search results will give preference to sites using HTTP Secure and SSL encryption. This added ranking signal would be a "lightweight" ranking boost.[161]
2014 August 28 User experience Google Authorship is removed completely from search results, as already on December 2013 it reduced number of images showing in SERP's. Now it's totally gone to extinction due to lower adaptation rate by authors, to reduce mobile bandwidth and to improve user experience.[7][162][163][164]
2014 September 23 (rollout begins), September 25 (announcement) Search algorithm update Google announces that a significant update to Google Panda is rolling out over the next few weeks. The update is dubbed Panda 4.1.[7][165][166] An analysis reveals that the update was heavy on attacking affiliate marketing, keyword stuffing, security warnings, and deception.[167][168]
2014 October 17 Search algorithm update Penguin 3.0 is implemented as a refresh to re-evaluate sites demoted in the last update due to webspam tactics and demote sites using black hat SEO tactics. This refresh is rolled out globally over several weeks impacting roughly 1% of English-language queries.[7][169]
2014 October 21 Search algorithm update Pirate 2.0 update dubbed by SEO commentators following the similar update in 2012 which penalized sites deemed as violators of copyright laws. This refresh targets a relatively small number of known sites causing dramatic drops in ranking. In tandem with this Google introduces a new Ad Format for queries where people may be trying to pirate media, requiring publishers to purchase ads to promote original content over pirated content.[7][170][171][172]
2014 December 10 Search algorithm update Google announces that Google Penguin will switch to continuous updates, also known as "Penguin Everflux".[7][173]
2014 December 22 Search algorithm upate Google Pigeon, the local search algorithm update, is rolled out to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.[7][174]
2015 February 4 Search algorithm update Many independent sources report significant fluctuations in Google Search results, but Google does not officially confirm any changes.[7][175]
2015 April 21 (pre-announced February 26) User experience, search algorithm update (mobile usability) On January 19, 2015, Google sends emails to webmasters about mobile usability issues on the websites, leading people to speculate that a major mobile usability update for search rankings is underway.[176] On February 26, 2015, Google announces that demotion of mobile-unfriendly sites for searches on mobile devices will commence on April 21, 2015.[177][178][179][180]

See also


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