2014 brought a steady stream of changes to Google’s algorithm. The majority of the updates were aimed at preventing spam and low-quality content from reaching the top of the search results, and rewarding high-quality content. As collected by Moz, the changes that occurred in the first half of 2014 were:
February 6, 2014: Page Layout #3
The page layout update released early in February was the first major change of the year. The update penalized pages with too many ads close to the top of the page.
March 24, 2014: Unnamed Update
March 24 brought rumors of a Panda update, as many sites saw ranking changes and algorithm flux trackers spiked. However, Google never confirmed this update.
May 16, 2014: Payday Loan 2.0
This update to the “payday loan” algorithm, which targets spammy queries, was released just prior to Panda 4.0. The rapid succession of the updates made it difficult to examine the exact effects of the update.
May 19, 2014: Panda 4.0 (#26)
The Panda update most likely featured an algorithm update and a refresh of data. About 7.5 percent of English queries were affected by this major update. The Panda algorithm is designed to prevent sites with poor quality content from reaching the top, while pushing higher quality content higher in the results.
June 12, 2014: Payday Loan 3.0
Googled launched a second major anti-spam update a month after the Payday Loan 2.0 update. It is likely that the 2.0 update targeted specific spam sites, while 3.0 targeted queries.
June 28, 2014: Authorship Photo Drop
Google dropped authorship photos from search engine results pages in June. The change came as a surprise, since Google had previously promoted authorship connections to Google+. John Mueller stated that the change was aimed at improving the mobile Google experience.
July 24, 2014: Pigeon
The Pigeon update targeted local search results, causing dramatic changes to some searches. The update changed how the algorithm interprets location cues. According to Google, Pigeon made the core algorithm and local algorithm more closely connected. Some local businesses saw significant changes to their rankings, but others saw no changes at all.
Next week, we will talk about the algorithm changes that rolled out in the second half of 2014.