Image depicting a timeline of Google algorithm updates from 2019 through 2024 with tech icons and the Google logo.
May 6, 2024

Every Essential Google Update From the Past 6 Years

The world of digital marketing is anything but static. It’s constantly changing, which is why professionals wisely allocate bandwidth to R&D.  

When it comes to optimizing on-site content, devising a link building strategy, or A/B testing PPC creative, context is key. In order to make solid, revenue-driving decisions, you need a thorough understanding of the digital marketing landscape. 

In this business, it pays to do your research, and awareness of Google’s evolution is critical. 

That’s why we’ve put together this overview of Google core updates and Google algorithm updates spanning the past six years. 

2024 Google Updates

March 2024 Core Update 

  • Google revolutionizes how it identifies the helpfulness of content with complex, multi-system algorithmic enhancements. 
  • Google also aims to reduce the amount of unoriginal content in search results.


For the past few years, Google has emphasized rewarding helpful, user-oriented content, and you’ll likely notice this theme throughout this list. 

March 2024 saw “an evolution in how we identify the helpfulness of content,” Google said. 

In announcing its rollout, Google called the March 2024 Core Update “more complex” than usual, since it made “changes to multiple core systems.”

“We’re making algorithmic enhancements to our core ranking systems to ensure we surface the most helpful information on the web and reduce unoriginal content in search results,” Elizabeth Tucker, Google’s Director of Product Management, posted. 

By this point, webmasters struggling to adapt to Google’s new approach had no one to blame but themselves. 

Google was anything but opaque about rolling out these updates and the intent behind them, so it’s not as if there was a shortage of information for industry professionals to leverage. 

2023 Google Updates

November 2023 Core Update

  • Google follows up the October core update with upgrades to other core systems. 
  • This update proved disruptive as the holiday shopping season was in full swing.


Shortly after the October 2023 core and spam update, Google released yet another core update.

“Why another so soon after the October 2023 core update? We have different systems that are considered core to our ranking process; this month’s update involves an improvement to a different core system than last month,” Google said. “However, our guidance about core updates is the same for both.”

It was certainly a lot for digital marketers to try and digest as 2023 drew to a close. 

Some were dealing with traffic fluctuations during peak shopping season, while others who had heeded Google’s guidance were rewarded with better rankings and higher click-through rates.

October 2023 Core and Spam Update

  • Google introduces three new spam policies to minimize spam in search results. 
  • Google continues to bolster its efforts to promote helpful content in search results. 


Google rolled out another core update just several weeks after the August update, much in the same vein as the several preceding updates targeting helpful content.

October also saw a Spam Update as well as three new spam policies from Google, aimed at minimizing spam in Search results. The two system updates rolled out simultaneously. 

Community members reported cloaking, hacked spam, auto-generated spam, and scraped spam in five languages. Those reports were the impetus for Google’s October 2023 Spam Update. 

August 2023 Core Update

  • Google releases a broad core update to further its efforts to reward sites that publish helpful content.


August 2023’s broad core update was another algorithm change rolled out to further Google’s effort to prioritize and reward sites publishing helpful content. 

By now, “experience” had been added to form the acronym we’ve all gotten to know: E-E-A-T

The August 2023 core update gave digital marketers even more incentive to understand and apply these quality rating guidelines in the site and content creation process. 

Google has made it crystal clear that we’re now working in a Search ecosystem dedicated to providing a helpful, high-quality experience to every user for every query. 

Webmasters seeking top organic search rankings as a means of capturing more traffic, conversions, and revenue must work with a user-oriented approach and emphasize quality content to see success. 

March 2023 Broad Core Update

  • The first of many broad core updates in 2023, aimed at delivering more value for searchers by better evaluating the content and user experience of web pages. 


In 2023, Google rolled out a number of broad core updates.

These subsequent updates throughout 2023 included a variety of changes but were overall aimed to better evaluate pages’ content and user experience, as well as surface high-performing pages to deliver more value to searchers.

The broader, public emergence of AI got everyone’s attention in 2023, including Google. The search giant’s guidance regarding the use of AI in content creation evolved throughout the year. 

Initially, Google’s position was that the best content is created by people, for people. Later, Google said it wouldn’t punish sites featuring AI-created content, because AI can aid in creating the type of helpful, high-quality content Google wants to serve searchers. 

However, some industry professionals interpreted that as permission to publish content entirely generated by AI tools, without human editing or fact-checking. It should come as no surprise these folks didn’t see the results they were hoping for. 

2022 Google Updates

August 2022 Helpful Content Update

  • A landmark, site-wide algorithm update that emphasized the content of a page and its usefulness as opposed to keywords alone. 
  • High-quality, user-oriented pages stand to rank higher over pages designed for crawlers and search engines. 


The first Helpful Content Update rolled out in August 2022. It was a landmark, site-wide change designed to surface the most helpful pages for a given query in order to deliver maximum value to searchers. 

For years, many webmasters seeking to push their pages into the top organic search positions would create pages and content for that purpose alone, letting user experience take a backseat. 

But that practice conflicts with Google’s goal of delivering the most valuable search experience possible. With the Helpful Content Update, Google rewarded high-quality, user-oriented pages and content, letting pages designed to appease search engines and web crawlers fall to the bottom of SERP listings.

It was a sea change for many, and plenty of industry professionals are still playing catch-up. 

A second Helpful Content Update would come in December 2022, further cementing Google’s new paradigm. 

May 2022 Core Update

  • One of 10 algorithm updates of 2022 rolled out over the course of 15 days. 


The first core update of 2022 was a big one that generally rolled out quickly over the course of 15 days. It was one of 10 algorithm updates Google pushed in 2022.

However, the May 2022 Google update would soon be overshadowed by the first of two game-changing updates that every digital marketer should know about. 

2021 Google Updates

November 2021 Core Update 

  • Google announces a core update from a new Twitter account during the busy holiday shopping season. 


Another core update came in November 2021. There were two notable differences between this rollout and previous core updates:

  • The update occurred during the Q4 holiday shopping season, just ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when e-commerce brands and others could see significant revenue impacts from ranking fluctuations.
  • Google announced past updates from its Search Liason Twitter account, but this announcement came via the Google Search Central account. 


The search giant’s guidance for site owners and SEOs remained the same: Focus on creating the best user experience possible, rather than fixating on the acute technical impacts of a single algorithm update. 

September 2021 Title Tag Update 

  • Google updates its system for generating page titles, making them more readable and accessible for searchers. 


In September 2021, Google updated the system it uses to generate titles for web pages. Whereas previously, Google might’ve changed titles based on the query, the update meant this would no longer happen. 

Google’s goal was to make the titles displayed on SERPs as useful as possible for searchers by making them more readable and accessible. 

“In some cases, we may add site names where that is seen as helpful,” Search Liaison Danny Sullivan posted on Google Search Central. “In other instances, when encountering an extremely long title, we might select the most relevant portion rather than starting at the beginning and truncating more useful parts.” 

August 2021 Link Spam Update 

  • Google continues its efforts to delegitimize black hat SEO tactics, namely link spam.


Although Google provides clear guidance on creating top-quality pages and content in order to achieve the best possible Search rankings, there have always been those who would rather try to game the system. 

These folks use what are known as “black hat” SEO tactics, one of which is link spam. Google has been steadily chipping away at black hat tactics in order to minimize their effectiveness and penalize the sites employing them, and the August 2021 link spam update was part of this effort.

July 2021 Core Update 

  • Google releases a core update over the course of 12 days, recommending site owners review their content based on E-A-T guidelines. 


This core update was the sequel to a more comprehensive core update that rolled out a month earlier. As usual, it brought the typical questions from digital marketing professionals about fixes in the wake of ranking fluctuations. 

Notably, Google’s advice included a recommendation for site owners and SEOs to review their sites using the E-A-T metric: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Yes, this was back in the old days before the acronym received its second E for “Experience.”

Keep in mind that what’s now known as E-E-A-T has never been a ranking factor. It’s a quality rater guideline, so there’s no “E-E-A-T score” that factors into Search rankings. 

However, evaluating your sites and pages with E-E-A-T in mind is key to ensuring your pages host high-quality content and deliver the best user experience possible. 

April 2021 Product Reviews Update 

  • Google releases an update focused on product review content, prioritizing sites with rich review content over those with thin or lower-quality reviews. 


In April 2021, Google rolled out a product reviews update. The reviews system isn’t a core system, but changes made to it do impact Search rankings. 

Because people value high-quality reviews, Google rolled out this update to reward sites with rich review content, as this contributes to a better user experience and helps people get more value out of a given page. 

There was no penalty for “thin” or lower-quality reviews, but for sites seeking chances to improve their rankings, this product reviews update was certainly one such opportunity.

2020 Google Updates

May 2020 Core Update 

  • Several months after the first core update of 2020, Google releases another with the same guidance for site owners. 


Google launched another core update in May 2020, with the same guidance for sites experiencing ranking declines. 

Think of broad core update rollouts as periods during which your pages are being reassessed against other content across the web. 

If your pages drop in rankings, it may not be because there’s anything wrong with them—it could simply be that newly published pages have been recognized as more helpful, easier to use, or otherwise more worthy of higher rankings.

January 2020 Core Update 

  • Google begins the year with a broad core update, causing some ranking volatility.


Google kicked off 2020 with a broad core algorithm update. This type of update impacts how Search ranks websites, including determining a page’s relevance for a given query. 

Google’s boilerplate guidance for core updates has remained fairly consistent over the years: If you’re following best practices and your site sees ranking fluctuations, you may not need to do anything differently. 

Simply keep creating high-quality content and delivering a premier user experience.

2019 Google Updates

October 2019 BERT Algorithm Update

  • Google updates the BERT algorithm to better understand the nuance and context of search queries. 
  • This update aims to serve better, more relevant results for searchers. 


In October 2019, Google updated its BERT algorithm. BERT is an acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, and it’s a deep learning algorithm focused on natural language processing.

This update helped Google better understand the nuance and context of the words in search queries in hopes of serving better search results. 

September 2019 Core Update

  • Google releases its second core update in three months, pre-announcing this update as well.


Three months after the June core update, Google followed up with another core update in September 2019. This update was again pre-announced, giving marketers time to prepare for any ranking fluctuations. 

June 2019 Core Update

  • Google pre-announces a core update for the first time, allowing marketers and site owners a chance to prepare for ranking volatility. 


While core updates weren’t anything new to digital marketers, the June 2019 Google update marked the first time Google pre-announced it was making changes to the core algorithm. 

For this update, Google wanted to be “proactive. Rather than people scratching their heads after-the-fact and asking “hmm?,” [Google] thought it would be good to just let folks know before it rolled out.”

Stay a Step Ahead of Google Algorithm Updates with VELOX Media

If you’ve simply been reacting to changes in the digital marketing landscape as you notice them, your business is likely missing out on crucial traffic, conversions, and revenue. Partnering with a trusted agency with a track record of success can make all the difference. 

VELOX is a Google Premier Partner, ranking among the top 3% of digital marketing agencies worldwide because we consistently exceed client expectations. We take an ROI-focused approach, leveraging the latest technology, cutting-edge research, and proven expertise to drive exponential growth for enterprises. 

Instead of dreading the next Google update, see how we can help you stay ahead of the curve. 

Contact VELOX today and learn how a tailored digital marketing strategy can help your business scale. 

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