The Google Panda Update assigns a “quality score” to individual pages; this score then used as a major ranking indicator. Initially, the Panda Update was a filter rather than actually a part of Google’s algorithm, but in early 2016, it was incorporated into the core algorithm (meaning that both penalties and recoveries happen a lot faster).
The Google Penguin update was to target websites who were using spammy or poor quality backlinks to try and manipulate the search engine results pages. Initially only working on a rollout basis (to the bane of webmasters everywhere), the Penguin update has been real-time since late 2016.
The Hummingbird update was released to better help Google understand a searchers request and show them results that more match their intent. This was the first time pages were seen ranking despite not having that exact keyword in it (semantic search).
The Pigeon update from Google started seriously taking into account the users location when making a search. The update created closer ties between the core index and the local algorithm.
The mobile first update from Google (aka Mobilegeddon) ensured that mobile friendly and responsive websites were given top priority in the search results.
RankBrain works in major part with the Hummingbird algorithm to help Google understand the meaning behind queries and provide more relevant results. RankBrain relies heavily on machine learning and according to Google, it is their third most important ranking factor. You can learn the other ranking signals within our courses & resources section.
The Possum update from Google changed the order of local results depending on the searchers’ location relative to nearest businesses – especially on mobile devices.
The Fred update targets websites that have been deemed to be violating Google’s search quality guidelines by having too many ads on a page and not enough relevant content.
Launched in March 2018, the Mobile-first index means that Google will now be predominantly using the mobile version of a site’s content for indexing and therefore ranking. Google has been open with information regarding the switch and it seems the aim wasn’t to catch out sites that were desktop only but rather to allow them a chance to advance and make the change to mobile.
The Google Florida 2 Update is officially named the March 2019 Core Update by Google and is said to be a large and important broad core algorithm update and has made SEO considerably more difficult.