Google Algorithm Changes In 2012 – How It Affects The Search Results

Every year, Google changes the search algorithm more than hundred times. Most of these changes are minor but in 2012, Google has come out with some major changes in the search algorithm which has affected the search results in significant ways.

Two major updates that were released by Google were Panda and Penguin. The Google Panda was first released in February 2011 and since then many updates got released. This update focused on lowering the rank of the “low quality site” and put the high quality sites on the top. The rankings of almost 12% of all search results got affected.

Google Penguin is the code name offered to the Google algorithm update which was introduced on April 24th April, 2012. The basic aim of the engine is to decrease search engine rankings of those websites that violate the webmaster guidelines set by Google. The sites which practiced black-hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing, creation of duplicate content, link schemes etc. were targeted by this update. The Penguin update affected about 3.1% search queries in English and about 3% queries in the other languages like German, Chinese, and Arabic. The main focus of the Google Penguin is spamdexing.

Here is the write of all the updates of Google in 2012 month wise.


January 2012


January 30-pack- About 20 algorithm changes were introduced which included image search landing page quality detection, the site links to be more relevant, rich snippets and improvements in the related-query.

On January 10th, Google had announced a massive shift in personalization and pushed Google+ social data and the user profiles into SERPs. A new and prominent toggle button was added to shut off personalization.

On January 18th, Google confirmed the Panda data update, Panda 3.2 though the company suggested that the algorithm was not changed.

Google updated the page layout algorithm to that the sites which have too much ad-space above the “fold” are devalued. A similar algorithm change was found in Panda update. This update was given no official name but it got referred as “Top Heavy” by some SEOs.


February 2012


On February 3rd, Google came out with search quality highlights which were related to spell-checking, speed, freshness of content. Integration of Panda into the main search index was announced. Google came out with post-flux Panda update which came out to be minor. A second set of search quality highlights were published which included multiple image-search updates, many freshness updates and a Panda update.


March 2012


On 23rd March, Panda update 3.4 was announced and it impacted 1.6% search results.


April 2012


A batch of update highlights got published that included confirmation to Panda 3.4, updates of image search, changes to anchor text scoring. Panda update 3.5 came out but had minimal impact on the searches. Google came out with Web spam Update sooner known as Penguin. Penguin helped in adjusting spam factors, keyword stuffing and affected 3.1% English queries. A week after Panda 3.5, Google came out with Panda update 3.6 and impacts were relatively smaller


May 2012


The detail of 52 updates in April were published which were related to the Penguin update. Other changes were 15% larger base index and update to the site links. Google came out with Knowledge Graph which is a SERP integrated display that provided supplemental object about people, things and places. The first targeted data update after Penguin algorithm update with the name Penguin 1.1 .came out.


June 2012


Panda 3.7 came out and it claimed that less than 1% of queries were affected. Again on June 25th Panda 3.8 came out which were data only and no change in algorithm. The monthly search highlights were out with 39 updates in May. The major changes are better link-scheme detections, changes to title or snippet rewriting and Penguin improvements.


July 2012


On July 19th, Google sent out unnatural link warnings using the Goggle Webmaster Tools as a repeat of March-April updates. ON July 3.9, Panda 3.9 came out and the rankings of the sites fluctuated for about 5-6 days and as per Google’s claim about 1% queries were affected.


August 2012


On 10th August, major updates were out which were the Panda data and algorithm refreshes, boosting the ranks for “trusted sources” etc. On August 10th, Google announced that the sites with repeat copyright violation will be penalized using the MDCA takedown request. On 14th August, Google made a major change to the Top 10 sites and put a limit to 7 results for many queries. This change affected about 18% of the keywords. On August 20th, Google came out with another Panda update which was considerably small and was known as Panda 3.9.1


September 2012


On September 18th, Google came out with Panda update, Panda 3.9.2 that seemed to be data only. Again on September 27th, a major Panda update came out (Panda update #20) which was reported to affect about 2.4% queries. This update nearly overlapped the change in the way of handling exact-match domain (EMDs). This resulted in large scale devaluation and the presence of EMDs in the MozCast Data set was reduced by more than 10%.


October 2012


On 5th October, a minor Penguin update was released and it affected about 0.3% queries. Google also published the list of search lights on October 4th. There were about 65 updates for August and September month changes and these included 7-result SERPs ,knowledge graph expansion , updates on how the “page quality’” is calculated. On October 9th, Google made announcement about an update to its original page layout algorithm which affected the pages with too many ads above the fold.


November 2012


The 21st update for Panda came out on November 5th and it was smaller having impact on only 1.1% English queries.
On November 21st, the 22nd Panda Update was confirmed.


December 2012


The knowledge graph functionality is added to the non-English queries especially those that include Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and Italian. This update added enhanced knowledge graph capabilities.

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About Brandon Leibowitz

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