Google is rolling out hundreds of search algorithm updates each year.
Most of the time we don’t even feel it.
However, a small proportion of them has a much greater impact.
Some sites are enjoying increased traffic, while others are losing everything.
Naturally, the question arises:
Are there any trends when there’s the highest chance to face the Google search algorithm update?
That’s what this analysis will try to answer.
- Summary of Findings
- How the Data Has Been Collected
- Google Search Algorithm Update History
- The Number of Google Search Algorithm Updates by Year
- The Number of Google Search Algorithm Updates by Month
- The Number of Google Search Algorithm Updates by Quarter
- The Number of Google Search Algorithm Updates by Weekdays
- Google Search Algorithm Updates by Days of the Month
- What Are the Most Common Days of the Year When Google Search Algorithm Updates Were Rolled out?
- When Will the Next Google Search Algorithm Update Happen?
Summary of Findings
- To date, there were identified over 130 major Google search algorithm updates that have been either officially reported by Google itself or noticed by the SEO community.
- Since 2011, Google is rolling out an average of 11 major search algorithm updates per year.
- The most Google search algorithm updates happen in May, while the least – in March.
- Most Google search algorithm updates are released on Tuesdays.
- Least Google search algorithm updates are rolled out in the first quarter of the year, while the second is the most active one.
- The highest number of Google search algorithm updates were rolled out on the 27th day of the month.
- The most common day of the year when Google algorithm updates are rolled out is September 27th.
How the Data Has Been Collected
However, keep in mind that in this analysis there were included only those updates that had a significant impact on Google search rankings (for example, official updates confirmed by Google and unnamed updates causing heavy ranking fluxes).
Events like XML sitemap or canonical tag introduction haven’t been counted.
Google Search Algorithm Update History
|1st Documented Update||2002||Sep||1||Sunday||01/09/2002||09/01|
|Panda 2.0 (#2)||2011||Apr||11||Monday||11/04/2011||04/11|
|Panda 2.1 (#3)||2011||May||9||Monday||09/05/2011||05/09|
|Panda 2.2 (#4)||2011||Jun||21||Tuesday||21/06/2011||06/21|
|Panda 2.3 (#5)||2011||Jul||23||Saturday||23/07/2011||07/23|
|Panda 2.4 (#6)||2011||Aug||12||Friday||12/08/2011||08/12|
|Panda 2.5 (#7)||2011||Sep||28||Wednesday||28/09/2011||09/28|
|Panda "Flux" (#8)||2011||Oct||5||Wednesday||05/10/2011||10/05|
|Panda 3.1 (#9)||2011||Nov||18||Friday||18/11/2011||11/18|
|Search + Your World||2012||Jan||10||Tuesday||10/01/2012||01/10|
|Panda 3.2 (#10)||2012||Jan||18||Wednesday||18/01/2012||01/18|
|Ads Above The Fold||2012||Jan||19||Thursday||19/01/2012||01/19|
|Panda 3.3 (#11)||2012||Feb||27||Monday||27/02/2012||02/27|
|Panda 3.4 (#12)||2012||Mar||23||Friday||23/03/2012||03/23|
|Panda 3.5 (#13)||2012||Apr||19||Thursday||19/04/2012||04/19|
|Panda 3.6 (#14)||2012||Apr||27||Friday||27/04/2012||04/27|
|Penguin 1.1 (#2)||2012||May||25||Friday||25/05/2012||05/25|
|Panda 3.7 (#15)||2012||Jun||8||Friday||08/06/2012||06/08|
|Panda 3.8 (#16)||2012||Jun||25||Monday||25/06/2012||06/25|
|Panda 3.9 (#17)||2012||Jul||24||Tuesday||24/07/2012||07/24|
|DMCA Penalty ("Pirate")||2012||Aug||10||Friday||10/08/2012||08/10|
|Panda 3.9.1 (#18)||2012||Aug||20||Monday||20/08/2012||08/20|
|Panda 3.9.2 (#19)||2012||Sep||18||Tuesday||18/09/2012||09/18|
|Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update||2012||Sep||27||Thursday||27/09/2012||09/27|
|Page Layout #2||2012||Oct||9||Tuesday||09/10/2012||10/09|
|Penguin 2.0 (#4)||2013||May||22||Wednesday||22/05/2013||05/22|
|"Payday Loan" Update||2013||Jun||11||Tuesday||11/06/2013||06/11|
|Penguin 2.1 (#5)||2013||Oct||4||Friday||04/10/2013||10/04|
|Page Layout #3||2014||Feb||6||Thursday||06/02/2014||02/06|
|Payday Loan 2.0||2014||May||16||Friday||16/05/2014||05/16|
|Panda 4.0 (#26)||2014||May||19||Monday||19/05/2014||05/19|
|Payday Loan 3.0||2014||Jun||12||Thursday||12/06/2014||06/12|
|Panda 4.1 (#27)||2014||Sep||23||Tuesday||23/09/2014||09/23|
|"In The News" Box||2014||Oct||1||Wednesday||01/10/2014||10/01|
|Mobile Update AKA "Mobilegeddon"||2015||Apr||22||Wednesday||22/04/2015||04/22|
|The Quality Update||2015||May||3||Sunday||03/05/2015||05/03|
|Panda 4.2 (#28)||2015||Jul||17||Friday||17/07/2015||07/17|
|Penguin 4.0 Announcement||2016||Sep||23||Friday||23/09/2016||09/23|
|Penguin 4.0, Phase 1||2016||Sep||27||Tuesday||27/09/2016||09/27|
|Penguin 4.0, Phase 2||2016||Oct||6||Thursday||06/10/2016||10/06|
|Intrusive Interstitial Penalty||2017||Jan||10||Tuesday||10/01/2017||01/10|
|Featured Snippet Drop||2017||Oct||27||Friday||27/10/2017||10/27|
|"Brackets" Core Update||2018||Mar||8||Thursday||08/03/2018||03/08|
|Mobile-First Index Roll-out||2018||Mar||26||Monday||26/03/2018||03/26|
|Unnamed Core Update||2018||Apr||17||Tuesday||17/04/2018||04/17|
|Mobile Speed Update||2018||Jul||9||Monday||09/07/2018||07/09|
|"Medic" Core Update||2018||Aug||1||Wednesday||01/08/2018||08/01|
|March 2019 Core Update||2019||Mar||12||Tuesday||12/03/2019||03/12|
|June 2019 Core Update||2019||Jun||3||Monday||03/06/2019||06/03|
|Site Diversity Update||2019||Jun||6||Thursday||06/06/2019||06/06|
|September 2019 Core Update||2019||Sep||24||Tuesday||24/09/2019||09/24|
|International BERT Roll-out||2019||Dec||9||Monday||09/12/2019||12/09|
|January 2020 Core Update||2020||Jan||13||Monday||13/01/2020||01/13|
|May 2020 Core Update||2020||May||4||Monday||04/05/2020||05/04|
The Number of Google Search Algorithm Updates by Year
Since 2011, Google has rolled out an average of 11 algorithm updates per year. That’s almost one update every month.
As you can see from the chart above, in 2012 Google released a staggering amount of algorithm updates (24 to be exact), which is almost twice as many as any other year.
2012 could undoubtedly be called the year of the Panda algorithm since even 15 of those algorithm updates were dedicated to combat low-quality content and to reward unique, compelling content (which was exactly why the Panda algorithm was developed).
It was also the year when another update of the Google algorithm called Penguin was born, which was created to fight against unnatural links and their schemes (also known as webspam).
In subsequent years, the number of algorithm updates decreased significantly and generally ranged between 5 and 13 updates per year.
The Number of Google Search Algorithm Updates by Month
Looking at the number of Google algorithm updates by month, there is no such a clear winner as there was when looking at statistics by year.
However, as you can see from the chart above, most Google search algorithm updates are launched in May.
The most interesting fact is that since 2011, only in 2019 there has been no major update in May. However, we didn’t have to wait long for that as the “core” algorithm update was launched on the 3rd of June of the same year.
Also, apart from May, February, September, and October are other months when there is also a fairly high chance that a new algorithm update will be rolled out.
Meanwhile, the lowest probability is in March, April, and August.
It’s also quite interesting to see how this data varies on a quarterly basis.
The Number of Google Search Algorithm Updates by Quarter
Again, there’s no clear winner.
However, we can clearly see that the first quarter is the least active in terms of the number of updates, and the second quarter is way more active.
The Number of Google Search Algorithm Updates by Weekdays
As the data collected shows, most updates to the Google search algorithm were released on Tuesdays.
Probably not at all.
Since it’s a fairly common practice to launch larger updates earlier in the week, in case there will be a need for the human resources to fix something that doesn’t work well.
However, as you can see you can’t also feel completely safe even during the weekend because a small batch of updates has been launched on weekends as well.
Google Search Algorithm Updates by Days of the Month
As can be seen from the graph, most updates were launched on the very first day of the month.
However, it is also important to note that until 2011, these updates were always either launched or officially announced on the first day of the month.
That was Google’s policy at the time.
But things changed dramatically in 2011 when Google stopped following this policy and algorithm updates were started to be released on any random day.
So, if we filtered out the data up to 2011, then the chart would look completely different and this day would become completely unexceptional.
And here we can see a little different data.
It turns out that most of the Google algorithm updates were rolled out on the 27th day of the month.
More interestingly, after this day till the month, such updates were extremely rare (or not made at all).
What Are the Most Common Days of the Year When Google Search Algorithm Updates Were Rolled out?
It was also very interesting to see if there are any recurring dates when Google Algorithm updates happen.
However, as can be seen from the graph, the dates are quite widely distributed and it certainly could not be said that any day of the year stands out more.
The only date that stands out more is September 27th.
So far, there have been 4 updates to Google’s algorithm on September 27th:
- 2017: Unnamed Update
- 2016: Penguin 4.0, Phase 1
- 2012: Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update together with the Panda #20
Sadly, there’s too little data yet, but it definitely means something since this day is just before the 4th quarter of the year (which as we know is the most profitable quarter for the Alphabet company).
When Will the Next Google Search Algorithm Update Happen?
That’s it for this time.
As can be seen from the data above, the next Google algorithm update can happen on virtually any random day.
However, we can see a small trend that Google algorithm update is much more likely to happen somewhere on a Tuesday in May or September.
What’s your opinion about this data?
When do you think the next Google Algorithm update should happen?