2014 Google Algorithm Review

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Google typically updates its search engine algorithm 500-600 times every year [11]. Some of the updates can result in major reshuffling of the page ranking, resulting in a big SEO shakeup. Here are some of the top search engine algorithms from Google in 2014.

Top Heavy algorithm update

On February 6, 2014, Google rolled out an update to its page refresh algorithm, which lowers the ranking of the sites that show too many ads before the content [1]. This update followed complaints from the users who reported that it was too difficult to navigate to the content [2]. This has resulted in a major shakeup of the web page layouts, with content providers who rely on advertisements struggling to keep up with their ad income without losing on the page ranking.

Panda algorithm update

On May 20, 2014, Google rolled out its update of Panda algorithm version 4.0 [3]. The intent of this update was to prevent sites with poor quality content from making it to the top rank. According to Google, about 7.5% of the English language sites were affected by this change [4]. This update has resulted in SEO marketers scrambling to add more relevant and quality content to prevent losing on the rankings.

In yet another update of this algorithm, Google rolled out version 4.1 on September 23 [7], which resulted in identifying low-quality content precisely and helping to boost high-quality small and medium sized sites. According to Google, this update would affect 3-5% of the queries depending on the locale [8].

Pigeon algorithm

Google rolled out a new algorithm called Pigeon on July 24, 2014, intended to tie up the local search rankings in line with core web search rankings. According to Google, this change results in improvements in the location and distance ranking parameters, and helps to tie different web search signals such as knowledge graph and synonyms [5].

Priority for HTTP/SSL

On August 6, 2014, Google rolled out a change that would provide a ranking boost for sites that use encryption using HTTP/SSL, also known as HTTPS. According to Google, the ranking boost is only minor at this time, but it might decide to strengthen the rank in the future to encourage all web site owners to switch to HTTPS [6].

Penguin algorithm update

Google announced that it has started rolling out the Penguin 3.0 update on October 17, which was mainly targeted to penalize sites with bad link profile. This update was intended to be a refresh update only with no new signals added, and the rollout would continue for a few weeks. It is expected that only 1% of English queries would be affected with this update [9].

Pirate algorithm update

In yet another update that had a dramatic effect on the web site rankings, Google rolled out version 2.0 of its Pirate algorithm on October 24, mainly intended to combat digital media and software piracy [10]. This update seemed to have affected a relatively smaller number of sites, although the drop seemed to be steep [11].